Beautifully engraved certificate from the East Boston Dry Dock Company
in 1856. This historic document has an
ornate border around it with an incredible vignette of an early sailing vessel in wooden dry dock. This item is hand signed by the Company’s President and Treasurer and is
over 162 years old.
East Boston was the center of Boston’s wooden shipbuilding industry in the 1840s and 50s—the heyday
of the clipper ships. Shipyards and related industries lined the Border and Sumner Street waterfronts.
Notable among these were Donald McKay’s yard on Border Street between Monmouth and Eutaw and
Samuel Hall’s East Boston Dry Dock Company on the present Boston East site.
After the wooden
shipbuilding industry was ended by the panic of 1857 and the rise of iron-hulled steamships, East Boston
continued to be a locus of ship construction and repair. In the later nineteenth century, there were
shipyards with marine railways and drydocks not only on the Border and Sumner Street waterfronts but
also Simpson’s Dry Dock Company on Marginal Street on the site of the present Massport shipyard and
a yard on Condor Street. In addition, there were a number of shipbuilding-related industries on the
waterfront, such as the Atlantic Works, which built marine steam engines and iron-hulled vessels at its
site on Border Street, and Hodge Boiler Works, which manufactured ship boilers and moved from
Liverpool to Sumner Street in 1902. Ship repair continued to be an important East Boston waterfront
industry in the twentieth century.
The Atlantic Works purchased the former East Boston Dry Dock
Company site on Border Street in 1902 and by 1922, with a number of floating dry docks and marine
railways, was the largest private ship repair facility in Boston. In 1928 Bethlehem Shipbuilding purchased
both the Atlantic Works and the Simpson sites and operated both shipyards during World War II. More
recently, General Ship Corporation operated a repair facility at the site of the original Donald McKay
yard on Border Street. The only remaining shipyard now in East Boston is Massport’s on the site of the
former Simpson/Bethlehem yard on Marginal Street.
History from The Boston Redevelopment Authority and
stock certificate research service).