History of the Boston Globe

Original Boston Globe on State Street

The Boston Globe was founded in 1872 by a group of Boston businessmen led by Eben Jordan, co-founder of the Jordan Marsh department store.[1] Its first issue was published on March 4, 1872, and cost four cents. Despite its nearly 150 years of publication today, the paper endured a rocky start. Pitched to the paper’s inaugural advertisers as “Something New in Journalism,” losses in the Great Boston Fire of 1872 and low circulation depleted the Globe’s founding capital of $150,000 within a year. Charles Taylor, then a 27-year-old magazine publisher, was brought aboard as the newspaper’s first business manager in 1873.

Within three weeks of his arrival, Globe circulation rose from 8,000 to 30,000.[2] Taylor is credited with several innovations that increased the Globe’s reach. He added illustrations to articles, ran full-page advertisements, and installed machinery for folding and trimming the newspaper. He also lowered the price of the Globe to two cents, expanded readership to women and children with family pages, and made it a rule that “news should be given impartially,” making the Globe welcome in households across the city.

Old Globe building, Washington Street, right before destruction, 1967

In 1877, Taylor launched the Boston Sunday Globe, and by 1886, the Globe reached 100,000 in daily and Sunday circulation. In 1887, he introduced an afternoon edition called the Evening Globe, which continued until 1979. [3]

Taylor remained publisher of the Globe until his death in 1921, and his heirs retained management of the newspaper through four generations., with William O. Taylor publishing the paper from 1921-1955, William Davis Taylor from 1955-1977, and finally Benjamin B. Taylor from 1997-1999. More recent publishers have included Richard H. Gilman (1999-2006), P. Steven Ainsley (2006-2009), Christopher Mayer (2009-2014), and John W. Henry (2014-present).

Opening celebrations at new location of Boston Globe, 1958.

Originally positioned in downtown Boston on State Street, the Globe was  then located on Boston’s “Newspaper Row,” or Washington Street, from 1881 to 1958. That year, the Globe relocated to its iconic plant on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester. In 1967, the former Globe building on Washington Street, was demolished. In 2017, the Globe moved again, to offices on State Street in downtown Boston, just one block from its original location on State Street

For more than a century, the Boston Globe has been Boston’s newspaper of record and the largest paper in New England.

Tom Winship and the writing staff celebrate the Globe’s first Pulitzer Prize, 1966.

The Globe achieved its national prominence under editor Thomas Winship, who led the newsroom for two decades, from 1965-1984. During Winship’s tenure, the Globe’s daily circulation grew to 520,000 and Globe Sunday circulation topped 792,000, and won its first Pulitzer Prize in 1966 for an investigation into the professional qualifications of Judge Francis X. Morrissey, a Kennedy family friend and nominee for an appointment in the federal judiciary.[4]

Winning the Pulitzer, 1972

In 1971, the Boston Globe became the third newspaper — after the Washington Post and the New York Times — to publish the top secret Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam War. The Globe won another Pulitzer in 1975 for its coverage of the Boston school busing crisis, and has incurred 26 Pulitzers over the last fifty-two years for photography, commentary, and coverage of local, national, and international news stories.

Celebrating a Pulitzer Prize win, 1980.

More recent Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage included the 2001-2003 “Spotlight” investigative reporting on sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church, which was dramatized in the 2015 Oscar Award-winning film “Spotlight,” and the paper’s 2014 coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.[5]



[1] Hatic, Dana. “History of the Boston Globe,” Boston.com, July 26, 2013. https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2013/07/26/history-of-the-boston-globe

[2] The New York Times. “Charles H. Taylor, Boston Globe Editor, Dies.” New York Times, June 23, 1921. http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=9D00E6D61631EF33A25750C2A9609C946095D6CF

[3] Hatic, Dana. “History of the Boston Globe,” Boston.com, July 26, 2013. https://www.boston.com/news/local-news/2013/07/26/history-of-the-boston-globe

[4] Martin, Douglas. “Thomas Winship, Ex-Editor of Boston Globe, Dies at 81,” New York Times, March 15, 2002. http://www.nytimes.com/2002/03/15/us/thomas-winship-ex-editor-of-boston-globe-dies-at-81.html

[5] Allen, Scott. “A Distinguished History of Digging Up the Truth,” Boston Globe, June 22, 2012. http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/special-reports/2012/06/22/distinguished-history-digging-truth/koYXOjPVD3CfTuRBtp0ZnM/story.html