Friday, February 17, 2012

The Prado and the Greenway

I was walking in the North End this afternoon and I passed through the Paul Revere Mall (a.k.a. the Prado). There was a scattering of people: a family, a couple chatting on a bench, a dog walker, a man playing catch with his son. They were mostly clustered or sitting around the central fountain -- dry now. That brought to mind a similar scene in chapter 5 of Death and Life.

The fountain basin in New York's Washington Square is used inventively and exuberantly. Once, beyond memory, the basin possessed an ornamental iron centerpiece with a fountain. What remains is the sunken concrete circular basin, dry most of the year, bordered with four steps ascending to a stone coping that forms an outer rim a few feet above ground level. In effect, this is a circular arena, a theater in the round, and that is how it is used, with complete confusion as to who are spectators and who are the show.

On my way back, I passed through the relatively new Rose Kennedy Greenway. The part next to Hanover Street is one of the nicer sections. There's a lounging area, a bushy area with paths, some exhibits to peruse. When the weather is really nice, I've seen people sunbathing on the lawn. Today was not that kind of day -- it was warm only in comparison to the usual February weather. Still, there was quite a bit of foot traffic hurrying back and forth between the North End and downtown. But the park itself was otherwise mostly empty.

I decided to walk the long way around to see if I could find anyone enjoying the Greenway in a fashion similar to the Prado. After all, we've committed $22 billion to put the highway underground.

Some open space. It's required by law, in fact. Lots of green grass. Nobody here, though.

Not here either.

Wait, I thought the highway was supposed to be underground.

I finally found a couple of people actually inside of the park. It turned out that they were reading the names on the paving stones.

A jogger. Nearby, there were also some skate-boarders that found a use for all this open space.

Good thing we kicked Occupy Boston out of here. After all, they were preventing all of these people from using this space. Also: what are those things on the ground?

We spent $22 billion dollars for this?

I started to choke from the fumes of the waiting cars. Time to get out of here.

I'm told the Greenway is popular among the officer worker lunchtime crowd. No word on whether the perverts have moved in yet.


  1. Immensely depressing. They asked for green space, and green space they got. Quoting JHK: "ask for an abstraction and an abstraction will be delivered."

    By contrast, $22 billion will get you:
    -414 30-story office towers (100'x100')
    -2,234 5-story buildings covering 1.12 square miles (enough to build the North End three times over)

    1. They could have replaced some of the thousand-odd buildings that were demolished to build the Central Artery... it wouldn't have cost half as much, and it would have been profitable.