Ten things I love about Boston:
1. It’s familiar. I grew up in Peabody, which is about twenty minutes out of Boston, so almost all our school field trips were in the city. Also, my father was an auto mechanic who had a tow truck; I remember going along with him on calls into the city. I know my way around, and that has a lot to do with my comfort level when I’m there. I can get to all the major points in the city – the airport, the museums, the ball park, some good restaurants and shopping – with a minimum of fuss.
2. It’s full of wonderful things to do. The Museum of Science, the Museum of Fine Art, the New England Aquarium, the Freedom Trail, the Old North Church, Bunker Hill, the U.S.S. Constitution – the list goes on and on, and I’ve been to almost all of them (and will gladly go again).
3. The T. I’ve been on two other subway systems – New York’s and Washington D.C.’s – but Boston’s is my favorite. Boston has the oldest subway system in the country, and runs the range between relatively new, modern trains and old trolleys. The lines are clearly marked and easy to navigate and, for some reason, I almost never feel the disorientation coming up from underground in Boston that I do in NYC and D.C. Plus, the T has a particular smell – though not always a pleasant one, I’ll admit, particularly in the dead of summer – but a smell that I recognize as part of the city that is as close to an urban “home” as I’ll ever get.
4. The skyline. Like the T trains, Boston’s architecture covers centuries of development: buildings from the late 16 and early 1700s stand side by side with modern skyscrapers and office buildings. The juxtaposition of old and new is something that resonates with me and, while I know that there are old buildings in a lot of other cities, too, none of them seems as seamlessly integrated as Boston’s.
5. Fenway Park. Fenway embodies Boston for me. It’s old and run down, but still serviceable. There are layers upon layers of paint and concrete in the place, covering older layers of the same and, where the newer stuff chips or peels off, you can literally see into the past. The seats haven’t been replaced in decades; the signs remain the same year after year, the only changes being in the prices of items for sale – the signs are changed by hand-writing in the new prices. It all feels very Yankee to me: it’s very much the “why replace it if it still works” mentality that I understand almost instinctively.
6. Quincy Market. The tourists call this Faneuil Hall, but the locals know it as “KWIN-see MAHket.” Again, it’s another OLD building (or, rather, a set of old buildings) that houses a lot of modern things – shops and food vendors, mostly. One of the things I love about it is that I don’t get to go there very often and, unlike Fenway, Quincy Market DOES change; it seems that every time I go, there’s a new food vendor, a different street performer, or a new cart in the atrium with fun stuff to look at. I also really love the open-air flower market in the courtyard, and always wish there were a way I could figure out how to keep the flowers alive until I get home.
7. Boston sports teams. While, technically, the Patriots belong to all of New England, they fall into the category of Boston Sports Teams That Suck, But We Love Them Anyway. Clearly, there have been years when our teams have NOT sucked – we’ve done extremely well in all of them – hockey (the Bruins), football (the aforementioned Patriots), baseball (the Red Sox) and basketball (the Celtics) – at one time or another – but the fact remains that we suck more than we don’t. Still, we continue to buy tickets and sit in rain or snow, or we tune in religiously to NESN or channel 5 to watch the games. We yell and cuss, but deep down, we love it.
8. The accent. Not everyone has the accent, I’ll grant you – I’ve had mine mostly educated out of me – but every once in a while you can catch the replacement of an “R” with an “AH.” Fenway Pahk. Lobstah. The Gahden. Medfid. It’s different from the Mainer accent, though that’s hard to get across in print. Trust me, though – you’ll never mistake a Bostonian for a Downeastah.
9. It’s a center for smart (centah for smaht). Emerson, Suffolk, Berklee, Northeastern, Boston College, BU, Tufts, Emmanuel, Harvard, UMass; one can get a top notch education in Boston and, as such, a lot of really cool things – lectures, research, exhibits and such – come to this area. It’s also one of the epicenters of medical care and research: Mass General, Mass Eye and Ear, Beth Israel Deaconess, Children’s, Boston Medical – all of these places are incredible places of learning and healing. People come here from all over the world for their care – or their education – and I’m proud of that.
10. It’s close and it’s small. For a city, Boston is relatively small; it doesn’t creep out and sprawl in quite the same way that a lot of other cities do and, when you’re driving in, you can definitely tell when you’ve left the suburbs and entered the city (mostly by the quality of the roads, but whatever). I could never see myself living in a city. I enjoy visiting very much, though, and the fact that I can get to Boston easily – and get home just as easily – is truly something that I love about it.