Check out the top five stories of the year from the Curiosity Desk.

Credit: Emily Judem/WGBH News

The Best Curiosity Desk Stories Of 2017

December 25, 2017

This year, the Curiosity Desk uncovered everything from the stories behind certain Boston landmarks to the reason for Boston's nicknames. Some of these stories were born from the brain of Edgar B. Herwick III himself, while others came from questions you asked. While the Curiosity Desk often helps you answer questions, we needed your help to find out what your favorite stories were. We thank everyone who participated in our survey to help us compile this list — it would not have been nearly as great without you. 

1. How Did That Star Market End Up Over The Massachusetts Turnpike? (20.3% of the vote)

Many people pass under it daily but have never known why there is a Star Market above the Mass Pike. Craig Idlebrook of Newton is one of those people. He reached out to the Curiosity Desk about this, wondering if the structure was used for something in the past. As it turns out, it was the start of an imagined future that never came to pass.

2. Why You Should Care More About 17th Century Bathrooms Than You Do (18.6% of the vote)

Back in October, an archaeological dig in the North End uncovered a 17th century outhouse near where Paul Revere lived. While it may be interesting enough that this is where Revere may have relieved himself, old bathrooms such as this one are treasures for archaeologists, giving them valuable insight into the past. 

3. Thinking And Driving? The Brain Is Built For That (11.9% of the vote)

One Curiosity Desk listener reached out describing a situation that many of us are familiar with: realizing there are long stretches when their mind wanders while driving, but simultaneously managing to stay on the road and make all the right turns. How is it that our brains are able to so easily think and drive?

4. The Last Pin Standing For Candlepin Bowling Balls (10.2% of the vote)

While there are a few hundred places you can go candlepin bowling, there is only one company left on earth that still makes candlepin bowling balls. It's right over in Medway and was born out of a mom-and-pop bowling ball repair business.

5 (Tie). From 'Beantown' To 'The Hub,' How Did Boston Earn Its Nicknames? (6.8% of the vote)

Greg Rossolimo of Pomfret, Connecticut, was walking through Boston Logan airport one day when he heard a recording of Mayor Walsh referring to Boston as the "Hub of the Universe." The Curiosity Desk consulted the Massachusetts Historical Society to learn the origin of this and other nicknames for the city.

5 (Tie). What Happens To The 50,000 Pounds Of Clothes Left At The Boston Marathon Start Line? (6.8% of the vote)

Tens of thousands of runners gather for the Boston Marathon each year dressed in sweatshirts, jackets, sweatpants, etc. But by the time they leave the start line, they're usually wearing just shorts and a shirt, if that. As it turns out, the runners leave tens of thousands of pounds of clothes by the start line — but thankfully, they don't stay there.

 Below are the final results of the survey.  

 


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