Constitution has called the Charlestown Navy Yard home since 1897. Today, half a million people visit her as she lays comfortably at her berth on Pier 1. She sticks out like a sore thumb, a black and white relict from an earlier age.
In the early 20th century, however, the ship seemed less out of place. To be sure, her graceful lines would never blend in with the steel hulls of destroyers and battle cruisers, but those Dreadnought descendants still had a certain jauntiness and elegance to their lines that our modern warships completely lack.
The museum recently acquired a collection of glass plate negatives created by the skillful and prolific photographer Leslie Jones. He worked for the Boston Herald-Traveler between 1917 and 1956 and his photograph collection (now mostly housed at the Boston Public Library) provides an incredible look at life in and around Boston during those years. He seems to have especially adored Constitution, because he snapped hundreds of photos of her over the years.
Here we see Constitution as just one more Navy ship in a Navy Yard full of them. Here’s a selection of some of the best photos.
Research Historian, USS Constitution Museum
Matthew Brenckle was the Research Historian at the USS Constitution Museum from 2006 to 2016.