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Old 03-25-2009, 04:06 PM   #41
Ron Newman
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

But this isn't the South End. This is the Back Bay. The South End starts on the other side of St. Botolph. This is right next to highly desirable stuff like Symphony Hall, Jordan Hall, and Horticultural Hall.

Looks to me like the never-built South End Bypass would have required clearing St. Botolph Street, not Huntington ... and as we all know, that didn't happen.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:10 PM   #42
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Prudential was rail yards, a big separator. That area was thought of as the South End and a bad area. Symphony Hall was thought to be stranded in an iffy 'hood.

Come to think of it, you could easily think of it as South End today.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:12 PM   #43
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
Looks to me like the never-built South End Bypass would have required clearing St. Botolph Street...
St. Botolph was thought dangerous.
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Old 03-25-2009, 04:56 PM   #44
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Quote:
Originally Posted by vanshnookenraggen View Post
Remember the South End wasn't a desirable neighborhood when the motel was built. The townhouses were probably in pretty bad shape and it was cheaper to tear them down and build a crappy motel. Also the motel would have been seen, at the time, as a modern improvement over the old fashioned and dilapidated townhouses.
Indeed. From "Estimate of Physical Changes On the Prudential Site and Surrounding Blocks Occurring Since 1955" (BRA 1961):

Quote:
Within the study area (excluding Pru site) since 1955 the following
uses were lost by demolition or conversion:

120 apartment units
2 lodging houses
1 dormitory

1 hotel

2 clubs

12 retail stores

1 warehouse

2 gas stations

2 office bldgs. (118,000 sq. ft. flr. space)
1 tech. high school (vacant but not yet razed)

and the area gained by new construction or conversion:

28 apartment units
5 priv. schools

1 motel of 161 units (under construction)

2 retail stores

2 parking lot shelters

1 gas station

1 air conditioning annex

1 telephone exchange office bldg. (12,600 sq. ft.)

[...]

Summary

If one includes the Huntington Ave. motel, (now under construction) the study area peripheral to Prudential has experienced since 1955 a moderate investment in new public works, alterations to buildings, and new construction. The latter will more than compensate for loss of valuation due to recent demolition. The area has had a net loss of 100 apartment units and some non-housekeeping units, but will show a gain of 160 motel units.
Run-of-the-mill redevelopment.
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:07 PM   #45
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Huntington Ave prior to Copley Place, the Pru rebuild, the condos and offices between Copley Place and the Colonade Hotel, Northeastern's and Wentworth's renaissance, the rebuilding of Mission Main, and the Stop & Shop development in Brigham Circle, was not the friendliest place to be.

The South End went from a near lawless and ungoverned urban wild, one would expect in Detroit or some forsaken quarter in New York City in the 1970s, to the place where you can buy your dog a $40 latte in twenty years. My block went from almost entirely boarded up burnt out townhouses, homeless people, rats, and garbage piled waste high in the alley, to millionaire row in that span of time.
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:21 PM   #46
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Even when I was at Wentworth from 2002-04 Huntington Ave past Longwood was pretty sketchy. It's amazing how quickly it's changed.
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Old 03-25-2009, 05:33 PM   #47
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

http://dome.mit.edu/bitstream/handle...jpg?sequence=2

View of Huntington Avenue where the CSC and the Midtown are now. The loss of density is enough to make one throw up a little.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:48 PM   #48
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Oh, for when Boston was a city rather than NIMBYs' playground.
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Old 03-25-2009, 07:58 PM   #49
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

As much as we may hate NIMBY's we can't really blame the loss of what we see in those pictures on them. If anything, their rise to power came in reaction to those losses.

We may, however, be able to pin on them the loss of hope of any kind of return to that kind of urbanity. Ironic?
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Old 03-25-2009, 09:43 PM   #50
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

For some reasong I M Pei liked to surround his master plans with fortress like buildings(government center, Christian Science Center). The apartment building, Church Park, was suppose to go all the way to Boyston St. I believe the neighborhood stoped that. Same thing along Huntington Ave.
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Old 03-25-2009, 10:49 PM   #51
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

But the Midtown motel is certainly not a 'fortress-like building'. Such a building would be a great improvement over the motel.
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Old 03-26-2009, 10:12 AM   #52
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Church Park at least introduced pedestrian walkways approximately at all the cross streets it walled off. The corner treatment at Westland Avenue however, leaves much to be desired.
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:03 PM   #53
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
...the Midtown motel is certainly not a 'fortress-like building'.
True, but it has all the charm of a loading dock for the passerby. Deadening to the streetscape, it's not a fortress, but it's even less "welcoming" to pedestrians than some reviled examples of Brutalism.

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The corner treatment at Westland Avenue however, leaves much to be desired.
I think of this every time I leave Symphony Hall and turn North.
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:07 PM   #54
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

And how about that crummy little bank?
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:33 PM   #55
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

^ Is there a story with the bank? How did it persevere untouched?
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Old 03-26-2009, 12:36 PM   #56
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

The main problem I have with Church Park is that the combination of the wide sidewalk and the overhang hides the local businesses and their signs. They are hard to see from the sidewalk and impossible to see from a car or bicycle on the street.
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:29 PM   #57
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

^ Tasteful vertical banners running up the facade (designed to tolerate wind and weather) would easily address this.
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Old 03-26-2009, 01:35 PM   #58
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

I don't think it's even used as a bank anymore, is it? I thought the BSO had taken it over for office space.
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Old 03-26-2009, 04:16 PM   #59
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
I don't think it's even used as a bank anymore, is it? I thought the BSO had taken it over for office space.
The bank is now owned by the BSO. The last plan I heard, before the economy tanked, was that they wanted to close off that part of St Stephen Sreet and connect the bank parcel with Symphony Hall.

'Fortess' may have been a bad choice of words on my part. I've always wondered if these edge buildings were to separate the projects from the surrounding (bad) neighborhoods or to enliven them like a European plaza. Here is the original plan:

http://www.pcfandp.com/a/p/6522/2.html
http://www.pcfandp.com/a/p/6522/s.html
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Old 03-26-2009, 04:38 PM   #60
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Re: Boston & Cambridge - 1950's

Except that the neighborhood behind Church Park isn't bad and never was. It's basically the music-student neighborhood (Berklee, Boston Conservatory, NEC) and also a residential adjunct to Northeastern University.

And I still don't understand why the motel was built instead of whatever Pei had planned.
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