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The Hub of the Universe (Also of Shirts)

Updated on July 22, 2013
The Hub of the Universe
The Hub of the Universe | Source
The Hub of Shirts
The Hub of Shirts | Source

This 1883 shirt advertisement is not a message to the future reader and writers of HubPages, but is referring to the "Hub" Shirt Emporium in Boston, Massachusetts. And the store was called that because just as New York is nicknamed the Big Apple, so Boston was known as the Hub - as in, Hub of the Universe. In Bacon's Dictionary of Boston (1886):

This other name for Boston, employed by good-humored critics of the "outside world," and by complacent Bostonians as well, grew out of an expression used by the genial "Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," - Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes - in one of his famous "Autocrat" papers. The term originally was "Boston State House is the hub of the solar system;" and it has come to be contracted and condensed as above.

The State House was built in 1798 (the picture above was taken in 1862) and is in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston. The wooden dome was covered with copper in 1802 by none other than the company belonging to Paul Revere (who was done riding around shouting by then, and was rolling sheets of copper instead). It was and still is the seat of the state government.

In 1881, Howe patented a wrap shirt with a built-in, patented Chest Protector "which prevents colds, neuralgia, catarrh, pneumonia, etc." Ideal for a doctor, one might say!


Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894) was a well known physician, writer and lecturer famous not only for his poems but also for the Breakfast Table essays - and for being a pioneering medical reformer (he was the first person to figure out that contagious fevers could be transmitted from person to person by the doctors treating them - a very radical idea in the 1840s). And in 1846 he invented the word "anesthesia."

But did he ever wear a Hub Shirt?


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    • jtrader profile image

      jtrader 6 years ago

      I wonder if Howe's design actually did what it was supposed to do.

    • J.S.Matthew profile image

      JS Matthew 6 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Great Hub!

      I live about an hour away from Boston so I get to visit this great city regularly. Since my wife is Asian, we often go to Chinatown to eat! Her sister's family lives nearby so we often all meet up there. There is a lot of great History in Boston. Good job!