Boston’s Streets: Sun Court and Moon Streets

In 1858, Oliver Wendell Holmes called Boston the Hub of the Universe when he wrote in an essay:

“Boston State-House is the hub of the solar system. You couldn’t pry that out of a Boston man, if you had the tire of all creation straightened out for a crowbar.”

Hub of the Universe, Hub of the Solar System, Boston, Oliver Wendell Holmes

A 1910 postcard

While Mr. Holmes intended this statement to be satirical, not pretentious, the city’s residents quickly both adopted and expanded it  from the solar system to the universe. Even so, Boston does have a place where the sun and the moon not only have their own streets but they come together in one place.

A Quirky Poem on Boston’s Streets

The quirky names of Boston’s street was noted in a poem called “Curious Coincidences,” which appeared in the New Monthly Magazine and was reprinted in the Boston News-Letter and City Record on December 31, 1825. One stanza says:

“Mr. Lamb in Red Lion street perks up his head,
To Lamb’s Conduit Street, Lyon goes courting;
Mr. Lover at Battle bridge hires him a bed,
While Moon is in sun Street disporting;”

Sun Court Street

Moon Street, Sun Court Street, North End, BostonNorth Square in Boston’s North End was first developed when the Second Church was built in 1649 and completed the following year. The streets around it were laid out at the same time. These included Sun Court Street, Moon Street, Garden Court Street and Bell Alley but these streets did not receive their official names until 1708.

Until then, Sun Court Street was known as “the highway from the waterside to the new Meeting House.” It currently runs from North Street to Moon Street behind Sacred Heart Church.

Moon Street

Moon Street was also known as “a continuation of Sun Court” until 1708. In 1673, however, Captain Thomas Kemble, a resident of Moon Street, was condemned to stand in the stock for two hours as punishment for lewd and unseemly conduct. After a three-year absence, he had “saluted,” or kissed, his wife on their doorstep on the Sabbath Day.

Moon Street, North End, North Square, Boston, Sacred Heart Church

Moon Street then and now with Sacred Heart Church

Capt. Kemble’s house on the east side of the street had previously been a gift from Governor Thomas Hutchinson to Samuel Mather, son of Cotton Mather. It later became the first writing school in the North End, attended by Benjamin Franklin and Samuel Mather. The building was demolished in 1832 and replaced by a tobacco warehouse. In the 1860s, St. John’s Hall on Moon Street served as a social club for Irish immigrants.

Moon Street runs from North Street to Fleet Street, forming the southern boundary of the newly renovated North Square Park.

Not Historical; Just Interesting

Sun Court, Moon Street, North End, Boston, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Hub of the UniverseNeither Sun Court Street nor Moon Street has any particular history attached to them. They played no big role in the Revolution and didn’t house anyone famous. Nor do we know how they got their names.

We like them because their names are interesting and because they intersect. Together, the corner of Sun Court and Moon Street forms “the hub of the solar system” in one small part of Boston.

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

2 thoughts on “Boston’s Streets: Sun Court and Moon Streets

  1. My favorite, for no historical reasons, is the intersection of Lorna and Doone in Mattapan, although Dune fans might appreciate the spot on Mission Hill where Gurney turns into Halleck.

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