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Old 02-26-2008, 01:15 PM   #1
czsz
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Is Boston designed for babies?

[ This was split from the Greenway thread. The topic is whether Boston, in general, has catered to families to the exclusion of the 21+ers ]

Or we could not make crucial urban planning decisions based on suburban families' "fun day out" in the city...

Seriously, fewer little blond children running around Quincy Market with their soccer mom freaking out over where they might be while secretly lusting after a tour through Urban Outfitters...that's fine by me. There are other people in line to use this city.
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Old 02-26-2008, 01:47 PM   #2
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

Lets be reasonable. In an area which attracts a large amount suburban and out-of-town commuters to two very prominent, significant, and well established tourist attractions (Faneuil Hall and The New England Aquarium) you need a few large parking garages. Mass transit alone neither provides the convenience, nor the capacity service this area. You need different forms of transit to keep it active.

Looking at the pictures hopefully both the aquarium parking garage, and the large brick parking garage near Faneuil Hall will be redeveloped with an equivalent number of parking spaces placed underground; if possible. Mixed uses on those two sites would be provide a major boon to activity along the greenway. Likewise redeveloping the Greenway end of Quincy Market so its uses faces out towards the Greenway would also be a welcome.

Hopefully within the next 15 years with a better economy and good leadership we'll see some changes along the Greenway which will enliven the area.
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Old 02-26-2008, 04:15 PM   #3
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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Or we could not make crucial urban planning decisions based on suburban families' "fun day out" in the city...

Seriously, fewer little blond children running around Quincy Market with their soccer mom freaking out over where they might be while secretly lusting after a tour through Urban Outfitters...that's fine by me. There are other people in line to use this city.
im not really sure its a 'crucial urban planning decision' Its a large parking garage that is necessary but should be replaced and the parking moved underground. It shouldnt be eliminated completely thats all I'm saying.
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:18 PM   #4
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

It's not just this parking garage. It's the whole approach taken by the city and taken up by the media - the same homogenization process that brought us Friendly Fenway. The Platonic ideal of downtown Boston for groups editorializing in the Globe is always something that will delight and amuse families frolicking around on seasonable weekends. Parents and pastoralists brought us the family-friendly Greenway, the family-friendly aquarium, the family-friendly Quincy Market, the family-friendly Freedom Trail, the family-friendly Enchanted Village/Chowdafest and other nonsense that occupies City Hall Plaza on its two purposeful days, City Hall Plaza to begin with (because Scollay Square was certainly not family-friendly), the dead and antiseptic Theater District where you can see the Lion King and not much else (alas poor Combat Zone), the continuing presence of the dangerous-for-pedestrians-but-family-friendly Duck Tours, all the family-friendly gimmickery of central Boston parks (swan boats, Make Way for Ducklings, Frog Pond, the whole of First Night and its G-rated entertainment), the impending hypergentrification of Downtown Crossing (because thrift stores and gangs of teens hanging out were not family friendly, and, by the way, families can only come from the suburbs), lest I forget: the Science Museum (great for field trips, useless for learning anything about post-1970 developments in science), and, of course, the Children's Museum.

Don't get me started on Cambridge and its Curious George Bookstore and Harry Potter street fairs.

Even Charlie of Charlie Card fame is a cute little cartoon character.

What is left in this city for adults? A strip of shitty Irish sports bars here or there?

Last edited by czsz; 02-26-2008 at 05:28 PM.
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Old 02-26-2008, 05:35 PM   #5
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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What is left in this city for adults?
Every bar and club (minimum age is 21). Every bookstore except the one you mentioned. Lots of lectures and concerts and other events at the local universities and colleges. All of the sports teams. The ballet. The symphony. The opera. The ART and the Huntington Theatre. The Harvard Film Archive and the Brattle and Coolidge cinemas. The golf courses.

I've never found Boston and Cambridge lacking in activities for adults. I'm single and childless, but I don't consider children to be some kind of threat or menace to my enjoyment of our city.
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:11 PM   #6
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

It's not really a matter of Boston and Cambridge lacking activities for adults, nor is it that this constitutes a "threat or menace" to enjoying the city. It's that the activities that entice adults alone are so overwhelmed by and underemphasized compared to those offered to or for children. What's more, everything you listed save the bars/clubs (and we all know this city's nightlife is somewhat lacking) is regularly used and/or enjoyed by children - particularly the sports teams.

This city could be better if we struck a somewhat different balance.
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Old 02-26-2008, 06:25 PM   #7
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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...I don't consider children to be some kind of threat or menace to my enjoyment of our city.
The parents worry some of us...

Seriously, today's posts on this thread have more to do with parenting and the possible horror of subjecting young children to the inconvenience of public transportation (full disclosure -- I think the T, taken as a whole, is an embarrassment and a disgrace) than anything else.

Welcome back Ronwell!
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Old 02-26-2008, 07:57 PM   #8
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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It's not just this parking garage. It's the whole approach taken by the city and taken up by the media - the same homogenization process that brought us Friendly Fenway. The Platonic ideal of downtown Boston for groups editorializing in the Globe is always something that will delight and amuse families frolicking around on seasonable weekends. Parents and pastoralists brought us the family-friendly Greenway, the family-friendly aquarium, the family-friendly Quincy Market, the family-friendly Freedom Trail, the family-friendly Enchanted Village/Chowdafest and other nonsense that occupies City Hall Plaza on its two purposeful days, City Hall Plaza to begin with (because Scollay Square was certainly not family-friendly), the dead and antiseptic Theater District where you can see the Lion King and not much else (alas poor Combat Zone), the continuing presence of the dangerous-for-pedestrians-but-family-friendly Duck Tours, all the family-friendly gimmickery of central Boston parks (swan boats, Make Way for Ducklings, Frog Pond, the whole of First Night and its G-rated entertainment), the impending hypergentrification of Downtown Crossing (because thrift stores and gangs of teens hanging out were not family friendly, and, by the way, families can only come from the suburbs), lest I forget: the Science Museum (great for field trips, useless for learning anything about post-1970 developments in science), and, of course, the Children's Museum.

Don't get me started on Cambridge and its Curious George Bookstore and Harry Potter street fairs.

Even Charlie of Charlie Card fame is a cute little cartoon character.

What is left in this city for adults? A strip of shitty Irish sports bars here or there?
I don't know if it's the family-friendly-ization as much as it is the theme-park-ification of Boston. By that I mean the conscious effort, whenever the city is faced with an long-term planning decision, to create attractions, or "destinations", rather than laying down a few parameters and simply letting real places happen. The Greenway, with its manufactured cultural attractions, and the Seaport convention district are just two of the most recent and tragic products of such theme-park thinking.

In vibrant cities, that which CZ laments as being increasingly absent from today's Boston -- aka culture -- doesn't need to be conjured up by armchair imagineers, but emerges naturally. But it does need real places, densely populated by real people, not tourists, day-trippers or conventioneers. Unfortunately, Boston seems to have given up on real places a long time ago.
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Old 02-26-2008, 09:54 PM   #9
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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Don't get me started on Cambridge and its Curious George Bookstore and Harry Potter street fairs.
You make fun, but that's the same crowd that hangs at Aria. Just sayin'.
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Old 02-26-2008, 10:21 PM   #10
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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In vibrant cities, that which CZ laments as being increasingly absent from today's Boston -- aka culture -- doesn't need to be conjured up by armchair imagineers, but emerges naturally. But it does need real places, densely populated by real people, not tourists, day-trippers or conventioneers. Unfortunately, Boston seems to have given up on real places a long time ago.
Precisely -- among the reasons Chicago's Millennium Park works better than the Greenway likely ever will is that Millennium Park has worthy neighbors. The Art Institute and Orchestra Hall are "connected" to the park. Further, the buildings across Michigan Avenue face the park.

For the Greenway to have been a success, the focus should have been on funding and constructing the promised museums and other cultural attractions (either what's currently proposed, or something entirely different) instead of simply planting grass and a few ill-conceived structures we have today and offering us a dream deferred. Too many of the buildings that front the Greenway are purpose-built to turn their backs to the now-absent Artery. Some owners are trying to better connect their properties to the Greenway, but in some locations (Marketplace Center is an obvious example) this is impossible.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:05 AM   #11
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

czsz..... hey why don't you move to a city that fits you individually? because your obviously intelligent and you've hit several( and im underestimating) nails on the head. where's the action? You're inspiring me to leave the city... are you leaving it? surely you must be doing something.... surely you're not just complaining to a useless website... you must be taking action in the city!!!! right?
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Old 02-27-2008, 11:52 AM   #12
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

Yesterday's posts were interesting, sort of like the things one heard about the "Disneyfication" of Times Square, you know, everything getting bland and sanitized. I guess it comes down to perspective, and where you think the tipping point between interesting and dull lies.

For me, you could take all the soccer moms and blonde children from the Quincy Market area and stuff them in a Range Rover, and it wouldn't make one bit of difference. The bland mall type stores and bars catering to 21 to 30 year old folks would remain. Sadly, I am old enough to remember going there when it was still a run down market, and driving across the cobble streets meant rattling your fillings and perhaps loosing a hubcap. The smell was pretty strong, too! Actual working people ate at Durgin Park, as well. The harbor was not a yacht basin. The area was cool and very "real".

The tipping point for me was when all that disappeared. Everything after is an exercise in taxidermy. But it was time for the old uses to go, or the buildings would have been torn down and replaced with a Marriott Long Wharf, or another 60 State Street. Given the desire to preserve the buildings and the accompanying restrictions, their "highest and best use", i.e. that which is maximally profitable and legally permissible, became an outdoor suburban style shopping mall with bars for 21 to 30 year olds sprinkled in. So hello tourists, soccer moms, youthful drinkers, goodbye Toby. I don't go there (except once a month to the Bombay Club takeout, not as good as their restaurant in Harvard Sq., but great anyway) and have no doubt that I am not missed!

Sorry for the senile rant! No place for old men.
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:15 PM   #13
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

Indeed. Back to the orthopedic bed for you, mister!
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Old 02-27-2008, 01:28 PM   #14
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

Anyone here read "All Souls"? If you haven't, basically it's about a family living in Old Colony during the 70s and 80s. Its one of those stories where everyone's on crack, everyone's in a gang, and half of the people end up dead, but it's still uplifting because at least they had each other. It's one of those, "Remeber the Good Old Bad Days" stories.

This thread has turned into our "All Souls."
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Old 02-27-2008, 02:50 PM   #15
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

I'll start using Grandpa Simpson as an avatar.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:09 PM   #16
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

I'm surprised anyone remembered me. By the way I?m missing the preposition "to" in my last post. Find where I left it out and win a prize.

So if you want a rant, I'll give you a rant. I don't post often but I read a lot therefore I have a lot to say. To make up for this I promise to take my digital camera out more and post some pictures.

I really think some of you guys are overstating your points here. I don?t appreciate homogenized urban places or family friendly locals because there usually visually dull, or contain nothing of interest to me. But there is nothing inherently wrong with that. Furthermore I don?t believe in this theme park-ization or whatever you might call it of urban development. I believe it?s merely the same thing that has always been happening in cities just in a different form.

To address the first issue. It?s important to keep in mind that the city is the regional hub of economic and social activity. As a result there are a diverse array of residents living in different kinds of neighborhoods who demand different things out of the city. One example, Quincy Market acts as the regions draw for many suburban families who want to spend a day shopping in Boston rather then in Natick or Burlington. It attracts commerce and generates economic activity; otherwise it would have been lost to the suburbs. As much as you may deride its existence it is a great asset to the city. One could make the argument that without places like Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, the Aquarium or the Freedom Trail, all products I believe of the White administration in the 80?s, (when the city started to turn around) people wouldn?t have wanted to come back into the city and then start investing in it again. Though I might not want to go down there on a Saturday, a lot of other people do. Are the abundance of shops, restaurants, shoppers, street musicians and entertainers as well as hotels, offices and now parks around Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market bad because families want to go there? I?d say it?s a pretty successful urban environment.

CZSZ said, in regard to family friendly and homogenizes uses crowding out the city?s public spaces, ?EnchantedVillage/Chowder Fest and other nonsense that occupies City Hall Plaza on its two purposeful days?? Here are some other functions that City Hall Plaza holds in the summer: A BBQ Beach Party, Hip Hop Festival, Free Gospel Fest, Cape Verdian Beach Party and now and again they get a circus and I think theres even a market there on weekends correct me if I?m wrong. Granted I?m really only interested in the BBQ, and possibly the gospel music but overall that doesn?t sound particularly homogeneous or dull.

I am a 20 something working professional and as far as I am concerned, and I?ve been here 5-6 years, I have been able to find plenty of lovely places within and around the city that I can use without being bothered by tourists or suburbanites. Neighborhoods like Central and Inman Square, Allston-Brighton, JP and Brookline have served me pretty well. I've found plenty of interesting places with like minded people in this city. I've enjoyed events in the Common, Downtown and in the Seaport, found independent bookstores, good bars and lovely parks. If your looking for a good bar, restaurant, concert space, bookstore or coffee house PM me I'll recommend something. I can go on but the real point is there are enough different places for everyone in this city that we don?t need to vilify and marginalize places like Quincy Market, the Seaport and The Greenway because they fit with our vision of what the city should looks like. I still not going down to Quincy Market because there nothing there I want to buy. But I could still go down there and appreciate what a pleasant public space it is while I watch the crowds at any time of day and in any season.

Now if you want to discuss ways to make enhance these areas that?s a different topic all together. I have plenty of ideas about that.

Now to my second issue. In order to create vibrant urban places you need to create the spaces within which they can function. With an example like the seaport you basically a blank slate, all the land you need but no way to attract investment. Fact is with the economics of the day you?d like to attract businesses to the area before you start to build. In order to do that you need a reason for people to go down there, a museum perhaps, or a convention center, maybe a outdoor concert space. Any use that will create other uses, hotels, restaurants, shops etc are preferable. That creates the critical mass necessary to start an area growing. In olden times that could have been something as simply as a factory, now it?s a convention center. Lets not forget cities exist for reasons independent of utopian planning principles. Once someone creates the space then its there and given time many different tenants may inhabit it, the uses will evolve and so will the character of the neighborhood. I don't see how thats not happening in the seaport.

If now-a-days, to get the project off the ground you need large corporate tenants who have the capital to take the risk and invest in the building then so be it. If you want to build a consortium of small business owners who pool their money together and invest it in a new project, so they can carve out a place within the neighborhood I would encourage you to do so. But what is most important to the city is that it create the space to grow and expand. Now as far as not laying the ground work for the area, they extended a highway, put exits in, paved a few new streets, added a mass transit line and put in place zoning regulations to govern the growth. What more do you want the city to do.

My overall point is that if a city functions the way it should it will provide the space so that all the social and commercial activities of its large and diverse citizenry are represented somewhere with in its greater political boundaries. Conventioneers, tourists and family?s are ?real? people too. The processes of development are just as natural as they ever were. This myopic view presents Boston has some sort of theme park is a unfairly critical. Boston functions pretty well, arguable better than all but 10, maybe 5 places in the entire United States. Not that we need to cut it some slack but lets at least keep the criticism constructive.
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Old 02-27-2008, 04:34 PM   #17
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

Sadly, I am old enough to remember going there when it was still a run down market, and driving across the cobble streets meant rattling your fillings and perhaps loosing a hubcap. The smell was pretty strong, too! Actual working people ate at Durgin Park, as well. The harbor was not a yacht basin. The area was cool and very "real".



I, too, am old enough to remember this area. I remember it as being a dump and a place very few people bothered to explore. I also remember when Quincy Market was brand spanking new and how damn wonderful it was.....and how proud I was that the city actually took these old, historic buildings...scooped em out...and filled em with the coolest restaurants and stores. Almost overnight, millions of people were visiting the area..not just tourists but locals as well. Maybe because the Quincy Market concept was copied in so many other cities and that the stores there now are found everywhere, that it lost it's uniqueness. But I'll certainly take today's Quincy Market over what was there before...as well as the waterfront and most of the rest of the city. Not too many years ago, large portions of the city were falling down rat-traps; the Harbor and the Charles were practically sewers, thousands were moving out...not a pretty picture. I'll take today's Boston over the Boston 50 years ago anyday!
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Old 02-27-2008, 05:35 PM   #18
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

My dear Atlantaden, in your passion for beauty you fall victim to the "narcissism of slight differences". Re-read my post and you will see I wrote the old market "had to go" to preserve the buildings. So my friend, I agree with you. My point was (and is)that the question of when an area becomes dull is temporal and subjective. Today, some find the presence of soccer moms et al. "dullifies"; I agree, except that for me, the area had become dull long before the first Croc or Birkenstock trod upon virgin cobble. Others may find that area was more interesting in the days of old when it was a dump. Some may also find this true of other departed dumpy, but interesting things: the Combat Zone of the early 70's, Buzzies Roast Beef, the Naval Base at the Navy Yard, the original Brandy Pete's bar, Newspaper Row, and on, and on, and on...
One tries to accept change with grace, that others will find uses for the city which, though boring to me, are not to them. Thus, logically it follows that Boston can be cleaner, be less dumpy, have nice new tall buildings, be more prosperous, yet at the very same time, be duller for the change.
Almost everyone on the board would likely agree that the ideal is to preserve the best that was, but demand the best that can be.

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Old 02-27-2008, 06:03 PM   #19
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

the ideal is to preserve the best that was, but demand the best that can be.
^This should be the credo of the board.
But Buzzie's was the worst roast beef ever.
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Old 02-28-2008, 09:33 AM   #20
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Re: Rose Kennedy Greenway

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Or we could not make crucial urban planning decisions based on suburban families' "fun day out" in the city...

Seriously, fewer little blond children running around Quincy Market with their soccer mom freaking out over where they might be while secretly lusting after a tour through Urban Outfitters...that's fine by me. There are other people in line to use this city.
The thing is, the city ought to be a place for everyone's use, including the blonde suburban soccer moms and their bratty kids. Boston would have a much poorer and, frankly, uglier, grittier and dying inner city if it did not have many of the family friendly areas mentioned in this thread.

Those dreaded suburbanites who bring their kids in from the suburbs infuse some serious cash into the local economy on lunch and a duckboat tour, tickets to see "Wicked" or a day of shopping along Newbury Street or wandering around Harvard Square. And believe me, that Curious George store and the now-closed Hello Kitty store on Newbury can be enough lure for my kids that they'd gladly suffer a day of my wandering in and out of bookstores for fifteen minutes of candied confection in either spot.

Family-friendly places make a city's street scene more multi-generational and more vibrant, and the money spent by such families offers incentive for other restaurants and retailers to open shop, giving city dwellers more options after the minivans head back to Wellesley or Medfield.

Should all our urban planning be done with a focus on satiating the needs of suburbanites? No, and thinking it does right now is false. But a few family friendly attractions makes Boston or Chicago or San Francisco or NYC what they are. The flip side is Detroit. You prefer that?
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