Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boston Architecture, Then & Now

For those of you who pop in on my blog occasionally, you may have wondered why there has been such a lapse in blog postings.  It's been a busy month for me, including having my mum visit me for a week (she lives in western Canada) and then the passing of my husband's grandma took us to Boston for almost another week (add to that some other out-of-town friends, a couple of unexpected and awful illnesses of people we know, and a school division strike that kept our kids out of school unexpectedly for a few more days, and you see how April suddenly got away from me).

When I first married my husband Frank, we lived in southern New Hampshire.  I had always lived in Alberta, Canada up to that point and moving to New England was interesting, exciting, and certainly offered more of a chance to see North American history than I'd ever been exposed to (as my sister likes to joke, Canada still has that "new country" smell).  When you remember back to first grade history and think that the pilgrims first stepped off that Mayflower ship onto Plymouth Rock in what is now known as Massachusetts, you can imagine how simply mind-blowing the oldest architecture in North America was for me to see up close and personal.  Admittedly, I didn't exactly love living in the countryside of New Hampshire (hello, Manhattan and central Paris are just about my fave spots on earth - so a country girl does not describe me!).  But what I did love was that my husband and I made a point of making the hour long drive into downtown Boston once a month for a fun date night, eating in the best Italian restaurant ever in the old North End, taking in an event at the local theaters, visiting various bars or restaurants or just having a drink on tony Newbury Street and watching the luxury cars drive up and down awaiting their due appreciation.  We were married in the Boston Public Gardens and had our reception in the penthouse apartment of the Hampshire House, more commonly known to most as "the building the Cheers bar is in".  So you can see why I have a sentimental attachment to the heart of Boston still today, and loved the opportunity to revisit this small yet remarkable city over the past week that is the polar opposite of my current Orange County home, which is surrounded by all new buildings and young trees.

The Zakin bridge is now the grand entrance to the city, a bridge that I saw the progress of during all it's phases of construction while I lived nearby.  That bridge is so iconic and breathtaking now; a proclamation that you have arrived in Boston that would make even Paul Revere proud.  Illuminated at night, it is even more spectacular (night photo courtesy Boston Globe).






The city has done an awesome job of maintaining so many of the original structures while still moving very much into the 21st century with modern architecture and amenities (for those of you who have traveled to European cities, the history is very much in-tact; modern conveniences are not quite so available as they are in this city).  The Old State House sits tightly against a number of modern buildings, and it's balcony overlooking a busy intersection is where the Declaration of Independence was first read on July 18, 1776.

Samuel Adams and John Hancock are buried just a couple of blocks away in a crowded cemetary tucked between tall buildings.  Today, the John Hancock Tower is now the tallest building in New England at 60 stories.

Those thought to be witches and quakers were hanged in the country's oldest public park: Boston Common.  The old brownstone buildings overlooking the Common and Public Gardens are enough to make a design-o-phile like me drool with the thought of getting into one to decorate.





(That's me standing with the tulips in the Boston Public Gardens.)



Of course, as every Bostonian will tell you, one of the most enduring icons of loyalty and patriotism sits just off the banks of the Charles River - no, not the American flag, but Fenway Park, home of Red Sox Nation and the USA's oldest professional ballpark still in use.
So if you are ever heading to the Northeast of the USA, and haven't yet spent a couple of days enjoying Boston, make sure to add it to your itinerary.  Because even if you aren't as impressed by architecture as I am, you can still make a great memory for yourself by ordering the local chowda or lobstah bisque!

1 comment:

Donald said...

Karen,

A wonderful read. Wish we could have caught up with you both during your stay here. I realize you had lots to do. Say hello to Frank and be well!

Don & Sue