(Those of us who don't live in or near Boston forget sometimes that Spenser's Boston is anchored very much in the real thing. This content was distributed across 4 pages in the original B&B.)
First Office: The Combat ZoneEdit
In the first three books Spenser worked in a disreputable part of town. To get there from the Boston Common:
- "I turned up Boylston toward Tremont and down Tremont toward Stuart. My office was on Stuart Street. It wasn't much of an office, but it suited the location. It would have been an ideal spot for a VD clinic or a public exterminator." - Mortal Stakes ch. 6
How about the view?
- "I stood up and looked out my window. It was a bright day, but cold, and the whores had emerged, working the Combat Zone, looking cold and bizarre in their miniskirts, boots, and blond wigs." - The Godwulf Manuscript ch. 8
And to further narrow it down, how about a landmark?
- "I looked at my watch: 3:15. I hadn't had lunch yet. I sniffed at the hot breeze. If the wind was right I could catch the scent of sauerbraten wafting across the street from Jake Wirth's." - Mortal Stakes ch. 6
Okay, that makes it half a block east of Tremont, on the south side of the street, on the edge of Chinatown, just before Stuart become Kneeland Street. Unfortunately I can't show you the office itself because urban renewal flattened that area straight down to the ground (think of the movie Independence Day) and built it back up from scratch. I can however show you what the area looks like now. (Original images for this gallery taken by Bob are lost. I've reconstructed it using Bob's descriptions and Google Earth.)
Second Office: Go West, Young GumshoeEdit
All good things must come to an end, and so it was with the office in the Combat Zone.
- "I had been urban-renewed right out of my office and had to move uptown. My new place was on the second floor of a two-story round turret that stuck out over the corner of Mass Ave and Boylston Street above a cigar store." - Promised Land ch. 1
(Images for this gallery are also reconstructed from descriptions. Google Earth is pretty amazing.)
Contributor Keith Sullivan notes, "You say that it is a bank now, and wonder if it was ever a cigar store. Well, it was, and called the Berklee (or Berkeley) Smoker. Sometime in the early 70's, '71 or '72, it was either owned or managed by the father of a girl I knew. I looked for a job there, but ended up not taking it because of the hours."
Spenser's Current OfficeEdit
(Early Autumn to present)
By the seventh book in the series Spenser was forced to move again, this time to the southeast corner of Berkeley and Boylston where he has remained ever since. Below is his office and the rest of the intersection.
BTW I would like to thank Glen Curry for originating this idea. After I had published A Walk down Linnaean Street he sent me half a dozen pictures he had taken and wrote:
- "I recently made a trip to Boston. With the help of a friend of mine we researched the last dozen Spenser novels. A little detective work later we narrowed the actual building Spenser would most likely work out of. The Berkley building at 420 Boylston St. Right across the street from FAO Schwarz, diagonally across the street from the former Boston museum. A short stroll from the Public Garden and Boston Common."
He was right, of course, so I grabbed my own camera and made several trips into town that has resulted in all of these picture pages. Moreover: Glenn met the author at a book signing and RBP confirmed the location of the office.
- "I recently met RBP at one of the limited book tours he was doing, Finally! The one question I had to ask. Is the Berkley building Spensers current office? Even though you and I and other B&B viewers had pretty much confirmed that? Well at least we are 100% sure now, straight from the masters mouth. "Yes", he replied. This continued into a short history as to why. Simply, RBP used to work there, (before he was the author we know and love.) The second floor, second window from the corner."
""The Berkeley Building, a distinctive example of the Beaux-Arts style, was designed in 1905 by the firm of Codman and Despradelle. This early Back Bay commercial building features a terra cotta exterior on a steelframe. In 1988 the building was restored to its original appearance by architects Notter Finegold + Alexander."
But wait, it gets better. Glenn Curry, having gotten confirmation from RBP about the location of the office, made another trip to Boston and actually talked his way inside the building, and inside Spenser's office itself. He has kindly given B&B permission to post the following photographs here for your viewing pleasure. Thanks again, Glenn.
- ""I explained to the receptionist, as she regarded me as having a third eyeball in my forehead, that I was 'on assignment.' I explained who Spenser was, Robert B. Parker, and the Bullets and Beer fan site. That for the B&B website I like to supply pictures to the site. I showed her my picture with RBP and the signed confirmation of the office. I referenced how this was, in fiction, Spenser's office. Second floor, second window from the corner, overlooking FAO. I, like Spenser, flashed a killer smile. For me it had no effect. But! Out of the Kindness of her heart she escorted me to the, now cubicle, window. Where I proceeded to take 4 pictures. 2 digital and 2 on film. ( I'll send the film pics later). I didn't want to pressure for more, though she probably would've of allowed it. She didn't have to let me in in the first place. Well something is always better than nothing."
(Miraculously, the Internet Archive preserved Glenn's irreplaceable pictures!)