Polaroid got its start in a few places—briefly an apartment in New York, then a couple of buildings in Cambridge and Connecticut—but it really got rolling in a former furniture factory near the MIT campus. The building at 2 Osborn Street was a dilapidated old industrial brick thing back then—Edwin Land once called it “wretched”–but it had an extraordinary history of invention. Alexander Graham Bell’s first long-distance call, from Boston to Cambridge, had been received in that same building. Land moved in in the late 1930s, and Polaroid kept the building, as far as I can tell, until at least the 1990s. Land’s own lab was there, even after Polaroid moved its headquarters to a big modern complex at Technology Square, and I get the sense that he preferred its no-nonsense clutter to Tech Square’s corporate polish.
The Osborn Street lab is now part of MIT, and although the neighborhood is still home to a lot of of light industry, the building is spiffier than it used to be. Your author, attempting to replicate Land’s 1947 pose a little farther up the block (shot with a leaky Polaroid Automatic 100 camera):
Compare the cleanliness of the sidewalk, then and now.
Fun discovery: The building around the corner on Main Street is the Tootsie Roll factory.
LEGALITIESThis site is not connected with or endorsed by Polaroid or PLR IP Holdings, owners of the Polaroid trademark.
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