Taken together, these and other developments amount to a change as dramatic as
the urban-renewal era of the 1950s and '60s. Not since Frederick Law Olmsted
conceived of the Emerald Necklace, in the 19th century, has the city had such
Whatever way they come, the
But with this opportunity comes risk. The old Artery is supposed be left as
mostly park land, reconnecting and reorienting Boston toward the sea. Will that
promise be kept -- and what will the rest of it look like? The South Boston
waterfront is the city's most important site for future development. How can
the city build a huge convention center that actually enhances that area? Where
should a new baseball stadium be built, and what should it look like?
If you are not involved in answering these types of questions, you might not
like the answers. The first stage of the mayor's plan to rehumanize City Hall
Plaza, for example, is to build a large hotel.
In the end, these plans concern more than the city's physical future. Done
right, remaking the city's face can improve its character, reflecting and
enhancing changes that are already lifting Boston out of its tribal,
inward-looking past. For instance, the black community, historically isolated
from the rest of the city, will be physically joined with it in several years
when the MBTA's planned Silver Line connects Dudley Square to Downtown
Crossing. And Menino, in a recent speech at Harvard Business School, proposed
an Inner City Trail -- a "linear green park," reserved for pedestrians and
bicyclists, that would extend from Roxbury to Boston Harbor.
Though Boston faces enormous challenges, it has made substantial progress on
problems that had long been though intractable. Racial tensions have eased. The
school system, thought still appalling, has improved. Violent crime has dropped
dramatically. Immigration and the increased visibility of lesbians and gay men
have given the city a more open, diverse feel. Such achievements give the city
time to pause, to catch its breath, and to plan ahead.
On the following pages, 10 Bostonians, past and present -- among them urban
planners, artists, academics, businesspeople, a human-rights activist, and a
minister -- share their visions of Boston's future, and how to get there. The
ideas range from the grand, such as restoring Storrow Drive to a
pedestrian-friendly boulevard, to the down-to-earth, such as getting the city's
colleges and universities -- the engine of Boston's youth and energy --
involved with the public schools.
The American Revolution began in Boston more than 200 years ago. But the
revolutionary thinking that first shaped the city originated in a much earlier
time: in 1630, when John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay
Colony, proclaimed Boston's mission to be an example to others, a "city upon a
Fewer than three years before the millennium, and just three decades before
the city's 400th anniversary, Boston can once again rebuild itself as an
example to others -- to escape the worst of its past while preserving its best;
to build a Boston that is a living, breathing organism.
All it will take is a revolution.
What do you think would make Boston a better city?
Send your ideas to phx-feedback[a]phx.com.
Use the word "Future" in the subject line. Or drop us a letter:
Letters to the Editor
126 Brookline Ave
Boston, MA 02215