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Old 11-20-2008, 06:57 PM   #1
ant8904
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Kenmore Sq

What will it take for Kenmore to be like Harvard Square...
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Old 11-20-2008, 08:45 PM   #2
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

^^Dynamite. And lots of it.
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Old 11-20-2008, 10:31 PM   #3
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

I wouldn't want Kenmore Sq to be like Harvard Sq. I want Kenmore Sq to be Kenmore Sq, just not a dump (start by filling in the street wall for one).
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Old 11-20-2008, 10:44 PM   #4
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ant8904 View Post
What will it take for Kenmore to be like Harvard Square...
It would need to fulfill its own destiny --as Harvard Square has. Or more accurately, it would have to regain it.

If it did that, it would be different from Harvard Square, because it would be Kenmore Square.



THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE

The French are noted for their linguistic precision. Proceeding outward from a city?s core, they see three layers of urban form where we see one.

Most of us on this forum agree we?re in an urban place if there?s a streetwall and buildings mostly touch. To our rustic minds, a walk from Hanover Street to Kenmore Square finds us continuously in the city.

But to a Frenchman, we?ve descended from centre ville through Back Bay?s faubourg to the very edge of banlieue. Beyond range only hinterlands filled with bumpkins.

To pass inward from banlieue to faubourg, you must pass through the eye of the needle.

Kenmore Square is the eye of the needle.

It?s an honorable position to occupy. Times Square was once the needle?s eye, and so was Piccadilly Circus. After Napoleon marked it with a big triumphal arch, Etoile became the needle?s eye to Paris? faubourgs around the Elysian Fields. The Fuehrer knew the importance of this as keenly as his precursor in world conquest, so he insisted on riding through in a Mercedes. The symbolism was unmistakable, even outside France.

When it first rose to prominence in the public?s consciousness, Times Square marked the northern reach of urban Manhattan; beyond lay a questionable territory of hog farms and strange diseases. Main Street of this dour landscape was Broadway, the winding Post Road which, a day?s arduous ride later, through New England?s agricultural wilds, at last wound up in Boston --where it went by the name of Washington Street.

Since Sumerian times, such fringe regions have hosted borderline pursuits, and Times Square was no exception. Then, as more recently, if you were looking for the ladies or a game of chance, the edge city was the place to go. In Paris, another arch, the Porte de Saint Denis straddles, gate-like, the eponymous rue famed for Irma La Douce in a dozen doorways; and hotel rooms are rented by the hour.

Not long after it sidled onto the scene, both Times Square and Broadway found their mission in the city?s order: to provide entertainment to the masses. And to proclaim this m?tier, they both adorned themselves with a myriad of sparkling lights. The Great White Way was born, and its garish promises of frolic and cheer drew visitors from the corners of the globe.

Google/satellite Times Square, and you?ll find it reads not as a square, but as the attenuated crossroads of two principal thoroughfares (Seventh Avenue and Broadway) intersecting at an acute angle.

Google Kenmore Square, and you?ll find exactly the same configuration.

Draw your own conclusions.


* * *

Ask yourself:

Is it any wonder there?s the Citgo sign?

And whatever happened to its sibling, the White Oil sign?

Neon --and what generally comes with it: isn?t it a natural in this place --in the eye of the needle?
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Old 11-20-2008, 11:30 PM   #5
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

ablarc, you are a genius. but unfortunately, kenmore square will be developed wrongly and awfully, due to the nimrods at the thrones of development in this city.
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Old 11-21-2008, 12:02 AM   #6
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

Kenmore Square was more lively before Boston University started buying up large pieces of it and removing nightclubs (anyone remember Lucifer/Celebration/K-K-K-Katy's/Yesterday?)
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Old 11-21-2008, 02:14 AM   #7
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

Aieee, to be honest, I'm not a fan of Times Square. I remember when I step foot in Times Square, and to be honest, I was not impressed. The lights, the neon... the crazy amount of ads for various products. I guess its the level of commercialization turned me off. Or maybe that Times is one of those thing that look better in a picture than in person.

Perhaps Kenmore's square purpose is not to be like Harvard Square, but an image of being like Times filled with that 10,00 neon signs, animanted bilboards, and a giant Yahoo sign at the top just doesn't attract me.

I do think about the comparison. The subway is right under and its at the end of a large university (and then's there also Fenway Park). For a start, I'm thinking that perhaps a good step is building up the highway and the parking lot.

Though I do like the Citgo sign though.
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Old 11-21-2008, 06:29 AM   #8
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
Kenmore Square was more lively before Boston University started buying up large pieces of it and removing nightclubs (anyone remember Lucifer/Celebration/K-K-K-Katy's/Yesterday?)
It was more itself then than now. Kenmore Square is actually devolving.

It was so much older then, it's younger than that now.

ant8904, you need to read with more nuance; I'm not suggesting that Kenmore Square become a literal replica of Times Square now or ever (as though that were likely or even possible!). I am suggesting, however, that it shares genetic material and background with that place, and that left to evolve unfettered into its essential nature, it would exhibit more similarities to its not-so-distant cousin.

Post 42 identified some genetic traits that Kenmore Square displays --though weakly-- as a crossroads/gateway, along with its more flamboyant New York brother; and Ron has pointed out that not so long ago it manifested even more.

But like Michael Jackson, it's being chiseled into something that it's not.

The plastic surgeons may or may not have good intentions, but few folks like the outcome of their efforts.

Goes to show that any time you go so strongly against the grain, you risk producing a bit of a monster. And Kenmore Square is currently a griffin.
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Old 11-21-2008, 10:53 AM   #9
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

I know that it's popular to rag on Kenmore Square, but I think to say that it's become something that it's not supposed to be is more of a reflection on the loss of things we've all loved (The Rat, The Deli Haus, IHOP, Burrito Max, etc) and the introduction of things we don't particularly like (the Hotel Commonwealth) than it is a reflection of what's going on in the square itself. To me, Kenmore Square is where the battle between Allston, the Fens, and the Back Bay is played out. In the 70s, 80s, and early 90s the Back Bay wasn't nearly as ritzy and Fenway Park wasn't such a huge draw, so the culture of Allston won out. Today, the Back Bay is more or less Beacon Hill part II and Fenway Park has a huge draw as an entertainment center for suburban families, so Allston loses out. What's to say that Allston needs to win, or that the Fens needs to win, or that the Back Bay needs to win? Personally, I don't think anyone of them as a particular claim in Kenmore Sq as their own and I think the cultural shift that's occured in the last 10 years is more of a reflection of the changing demographics in the area than it is a reflection of active planning. The fact of the matter is, things come and go. The idea of the hipster crowd living in Somerville and Jamaica Plain would have been laughable in the 70s or 80s, but in all honesty, Union Sq, Davis Sq, Hyde Sq. etc are just the new Kenmore Sq. There's nothing wrong with it, it's just the usual shifts.
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:08 AM   #10
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

That's a good analysis of the the area, but the bigger problem isn't that the Back Bay is winning it that its winning ugly. If the Back Bay was truly extended into Kenmore Sq, rather than the Hollywood version of it I think a lot fewer people would complain.
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:25 AM   #11
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

So the problem is the buildings have bad styling?

You sure?
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Old 11-21-2008, 11:30 AM   #12
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

They have bad substance. A Hollywood veneer over a strip mall.
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Old 11-21-2008, 01:34 PM   #13
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

There's not even a strip mall to put a veneer over, it basically is a square with tons of potential and nothing but a subway stop and the Hotel Commonwealth. Statler put it right, it has no substance.
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:22 PM   #14
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

too much of it missing.
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Old 11-26-2008, 07:15 PM   #15
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Re: Harvard Square in Allston?

^ Nothing a little density wouldn't cure. Build on the abominable parking lot, and build to a decent height; it's a good location for a high-rise functioning as an off-center campanile. Redevelop the two-story buildings at eight or ten stories in small increments. It's a node, and it's broad; so it can use some height. And let them indulge in some brash signs, so Citgo doesn't feel so lonely.
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Old 03-28-2009, 02:21 PM   #16
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Re: Kenmore Sq

GENES OF KENMORE SQUARE

Born and bred at the city?s edge.

Beyond lie suburbs?



In the other direction, the city:


Crossroads and gateway: the outer edge.

It?s where suburban streetcar turns to urban subway:



Leave your camels here and hop on the subway:


Kenmore needs a MotorMart garage with ground floor shops.

Camels tended here:



Such places generally have places for travelers to rest their weary bones?



?and other forms of welcome and good cheer:


Crossroads and gateway: the outer edge.

Though it?s a weak example, Kenmore can be classified with a group that includes Piccadilly Circus, Place Pigalle, and New York?s Times Square and Union Square. All were born as rowdy gateways at the city?s edge, and all once derived their character from neon, drinking, and sometimes smut. Piccadilly and Pigalle retain both neon and smut, Times Square only its neon; it has been cleaned up. Some say it too has lost much of its character in the process. Kenmore Square is even losing its neon.



It needs reinforcement as a night-time place.

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Old 03-28-2009, 02:43 PM   #17
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Re: Kenmore Sq

I wish somebody would show Boss Menino this tutorial. He is a firm believer that the Back Bay begins at Kenmore Square, and that the Square's ultimate destiny is to be fully integrated into the Back Bay.

Ablarc's post shows me that the "beginning of" the Back Bay and the "entrance to" the Back Bay are two very different things. It's a really neat way of thinking about Kenmore Square.

---
Off topic, but looking at Ablarc's photos, I couldn't help help but be reminded of the great song "Tony Adams" by Joe Strummer... his post-apocalyptic Broadway sounds a little like our post-Menino Kenmore...

Tonight there was a power cut in the city of madness
And all conversations died in the burst of a solar flare
In the darkness an angel won the beauty pageant
Stroboscopic snowflakes fell from the stratosphere
And all the neon blew down funky Broadway
And shorted out the eastern shore
Only saxophones and beach trombones
Were left to shout out, "We all need a little more."
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Old 03-28-2009, 05:41 PM   #18
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Re: Kenmore Sq

All those parked cars in photo #4 -- I think those belonged to car dealers, which used to occupy much of the Comm. Ave. frontage west of Kenmore all the way to Packards Corner.

I'm having trouble figuring out exactly where this photo was taken and which direction it is looking. Can someone identify it?
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Old 03-28-2009, 07:42 PM   #19
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Re: Kenmore Sq

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Newman View Post
All those parked cars in photo #4 -- I think those belonged to car dealers, which used to occupy much of the Comm. Ave. frontage west of Kenmore all the way to Packards Corner.

I'm having trouble figuring out exactly where this photo was taken and which direction it is looking. Can someone identify it?
Here's where it came from --

http://dome.mit.edu/handle/1721.3/34934

Here's a more recent view --

http://tinyurl.com/c2y8qt

The parking lot at the upper left is now the BU School of Management and the BU dorm that was once the Howard Johnson's hotel. The building below it is still there. And the parking lot at the lower right is still there.
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Old 03-28-2009, 08:14 PM   #20
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Re: Kenmore Sq

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Off topic, but...I couldn't help help but be reminded of the great song...post-apocalyptic..."We all need a little more."
OK...off topic...a little more...


I was born in a beauty salon
My father was a dresser of hair
My mother was a girl you could call on
When you called she was always there

When you called she was always there?

Ah but don't go home with your hardon
It will only drive you insane
You can't shake it (or break it) with your motown
You can't melt it down in the rain

You can't melt it down in the rain?

I've looked behind all of the faces
That smile you down to your knees
And the lips that say, come on, taste us
And when you try to, they make you say Please

When you try to, they make you say Please?

Here comes your bride with her veil on
Approach her, you wretch, if you dare
Approach her, you ape with your tail on
Once you have her she'll always be there

Once you have her she'll always be there?

Ah but don't go home with your hard-on ...

So I work in that same beauty salon
I'm chained to the old masquerade
The lipstick, the shadow, the silicone
I follow my father's trade

Yes I follow my father's trade?

Ah but don't go home with your hardon
It will only drive you insane
You can't shake it (or break it) with your motown
You can't melt it down in the rain

You can't melt it down in the rain?


Quote:
"We all need a little more."
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