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Design a Better Boston Are you disappointed with the state of Boston's current architecture/development? Think you have a better idea? Post it here.

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Old 04-13-2018, 05:24 PM   #1
bigpicture7
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Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Since the topic came up on the Parcel 9 / Greenway thread, thought we might explore this:

What are the most embarrassing blighted parcels that tourists see?

Criteria as follows:
1) Must be in a somewhat central location that tourists actually walk past (e.g. not an industrial ruin 6 miles from the city center)
2) Must be why-hasn't-this-been-solved-by-now sort of situation (e.g., the site actually has potential)


INAUGURAL LIST:

1) Parcel 9 - Greenway (nominated by Smartiro and 617)

2) Northern Ave Bridge

3) Burnt-out pier at James Hook Lobster site

What else belongs on here, folks?
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:20 PM   #2
Proposition Joe
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Boston City Hall
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:38 PM   #3
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Something MBTA related.
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Old 04-13-2018, 07:13 PM   #4
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

1) “We are experiencing 20-30 minute delays due to a signal problem....”

2) State Services Center - the building is worth looking at (and it’s a Duck Tour landmark) the chainlink fences and garbage are embarrassing.

3) vacant storefronts on Winter/DTX

4) “official” Cars parked on public walkways and spaces all over (State Services Center, Old State House, City Hall Plaza, etc.)
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Old 04-13-2018, 07:28 PM   #5
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Charlestown bridge, eastern bakers supply building, odd tenement near south station fire house, Payless/city sports block dtown crossing, Barnes noble dtown crossing, most of the west end, Tremont on the common, hilltop securities building
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Old 04-13-2018, 08:27 PM   #6
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

The Bowker Charlesgate overpass, City Hall, City Hall Plaza, the O'Neill building, the McGrath Hwy overpass, and Rutherford Ave.
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Old 04-14-2018, 07:12 AM   #7
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Good list so far, though I guess I didn't mean for it to include instances of "i don't like a particular architectural style," assuming the building/structure is maintained/in good shape.

But I agree with most above, nonetheless, for example: the State Services building's chain linked fences and gov't employee vehicles hanging out on the sidewalks / cordoned-off plazas are a disgrace. The exude a "we don't give a shit about your experience around this building/site" vibe.

I'll add one and clarify the criteria:
Constellation Center site in Kendall

(rule clarification: can be outside Boston proper if its still a key central location w/ lots of out-of-town guests)

It is truly embarrassing to see a cadre of pharma executives from Japan walk past that chain link fenced, weeded, shanty-shack disgrace in the center of the northeast's biotech hub. Yes I know we've beaten this one to death on other threads, but that thing needs to be on this list IMO.
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:29 AM   #8
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Sheraton North Tower (partial demo and re-clad)

Sheraton South Tower (re-clad)

Solution and development; If the North Tower can be partially dismantled (on its east side), then a very tall tower can rise up using the demo site for roughly half of the new footprint, w/ the east side of the parcel (the low section) for the tower's remaining footprint. The North Tower will form a lower section of an L-shaped tower. You might be able to get as tall as 600~700'.

Then re-clad the South Tower, the remainder of the North Tower, and the lobby section.
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Old 04-14-2018, 10:51 AM   #9
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Yes the Sheraton is ugly. But it is not blight. It is a busy hotel.

Blight are parcels left to rot. This is especially egregious when perpetrated by the city itself, or when policies or procedures serve to enable/extend/motivate the blightedness of private parcels.

This may seem like a pessimistic thread, but the intent is actually the opposite: call attention to something so it's harder for the city to ignore.
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Old 04-14-2018, 11:47 AM   #10
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

State services building.
City hall plaza. Still lacking
Sullivan Square.
Fort point channel. Both sides. It could be an incredible area.
Washington street bridge.
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:00 PM   #11
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Quote:
Originally Posted by philip View Post
Fort point channel. Both sides. It could be an incredible area.
The section of Fort Point Channel by the Children's museum is one of my favorite parts of the city. It gets worse as you go towards GE/Gillette and the Post Office on the other side, but tourists would never venture down that way. Same with Sullivan, tourists will never go there unless in the back of an Uber.

I would never call the area of Fort Point that tourists would see one of the most worst in the city. Though I hope that they rebuild the rusty old bridge into a new pedestrian bridge.

But I'd give the worst that tourists would see to City Hall and City Hall Plaza. The winter garden is nice, but the rest of year it's such a vast unused plaza that blights the neighborhood. And it's right next to Fanuiel Hall so tourists do see it.

Last edited by tysmith95; 04-14-2018 at 12:14 PM.
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Old 04-15-2018, 08:32 AM   #12
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

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The section of Fort Point Channel by the Children's museum is one of my favorite parts of the city. It gets worse as you go towards GE/Gillette and the Post Office on the other side, but tourists would never venture down that way. Same with Sullivan, tourists will never go there unless in the back of an Uber.

I would never call the area of Fort Point that tourists would see one of the most worst in the city. Though I hope that they rebuild the rusty old bridge into a new pedestrian bridge.

But I'd give the worst that tourists would see to City Hall and City Hall Plaza. The winter garden is nice, but the rest of year it's such a vast unused plaza that blights the neighborhood. And it's right next to Fanuiel Hall so tourists do see it.
Good gravy...

So when crossing the channel the tourists only look toward the museum side??? Do you think some may look may look toward the post office and gillette and think "what a lost opportunity" or"this could be so nice if....."

I'm sure there's been 1 or 2 tourists that have ventured thru sullivan..

Loosen up
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Old 04-15-2018, 08:44 AM   #13
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

^ I gotta chime in here with some support for Philip's point.

His point is exactly one I was trying to make too. Tourists are specifically drawn to cross the channel due to the children's museum, tea party boat, etc. And, to ty's point, there's some great stuff here.

But, because they are drawn here, if they look to their right they will see a stretch of parking lots and semi-abandoned structures on one side (yea, I know, set to be developed...but...)...and, the massive, hulking, monolithic post office facility on the other side. The post office side is particularly unwelcoming: there's a gate; the walking paths are dead-ended. There's a sea of parked vehicles.

The concept is simple: the realm is improved if the city actually cares (i get that not all of it is city jurisdiction, but they can still advocate and be involved). Why not have a boardwalk along the post office side, as well as maybe some giant murals on the side of the post office facility? I mean, ideally the P.O. facility is removed. But my point is you don't need to spend a billion bucks to improve the public experience. It's more about the vision than the money.

So, yea, I would agree with Philip and classify parts of the fort point channel area as blight that tourists see. Just my 2 cents.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:12 AM   #14
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

I think the Post Office won't allow that section to be open to the public as long as they exist there. I am pretty sure that is a dead space until the Post Office moves which the city and state have been working on but they can only do so much.
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Old 04-15-2018, 09:21 AM   #15
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

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I think the Post Office won't allow that section to be open to the public as long as they exist there. I am pretty sure that is a dead space until the Post Office moves which the city and state have been working on but they can only do so much.
Fair point; I went too far with my "if the city actually cares" statement. Though there's always room for improvement and complacency sets in easily...

How cool would this be, though: a boardwalk outboard of the facility along the channel with a row of vendor stands, behind which is a security fence to isolate public from the facility. Or even none of that, but just some cool murals on the side of the facility.

I mean, a success story in this regard is that ugly mechanical building on the Greenway that has the murals on it. Imagine how much worse that would be in the middle of the greenway if it were just a mechanical station?

Lisbon, Portugal, is a city I visited recently that has a lot of blighted buildings in very public places; however, they've been turning them into art and they have actually become celebrated places (related article):
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Old 04-15-2018, 01:36 PM   #16
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

How about Boston's segregation and racism?
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Old 04-15-2018, 02:05 PM   #17
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

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How about Boston's segregation and racism?
Tourists don't see that. All the black folk live in neighborhoods tourists don't visit [/half-snark]
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Old 04-15-2018, 04:33 PM   #18
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

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Tourists don't see that. All the black folk live in neighborhoods tourists don't visit [/half-snark]
Everyone who has told me about visiting Boston has mentioned this. It's very obvious once you've lived anywhere else.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:17 PM   #19
bigpicture7
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

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Everyone who has told me about visiting Boston has mentioned this. It's very obvious once you've lived anywhere else.
I don't disagree. And this is a serious issue (a city with nearly 1/4 Black population that one would guess was 1/20th Black based on crowds at central locations / businesses).

I gently push back, though, at the fact that this is not the same thing as real estate / infrastructural blight. Maybe this post would be appropriate for a "most embarrassing things about Boston that tourists might notice" thread.
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Old 04-15-2018, 05:52 PM   #20
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Re: Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

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I don't disagree. And this is a serious issue (a city with nearly 1/4 Black population that one would guess was 1/20th Black based on crowds at central locations / businesses).

I gently push back, though, at the fact that this is not the same thing as real estate / infrastructural blight. Maybe this post would be appropriate for a "most embarrassing things about Boston that tourists might notice" thread.
I feel like a big reason for the low representation in the central areas is that the African American population is very small in most suburbs, and people from the city neighborhoods north of Boston and many of the suburbs visit the center.
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