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American Scenes: Boston, 2000


Boylston Street, Boston, in 1911 (Wikimedia Commons)
The image shows Boylston Street in Boston, Massachussetts, in 1911. I stayed on this street in the year 2000, as I was passing through on the way to an artist's residency in Vermont. The vehicles and styles of clothing that you saw then, and now, are different, but the buildings are the same as when I stayed there.

I flew in to Boston on Friday, August 25th. I know this because momentous things happened to me in the weeks after that date (and also because I verified the dates via  Google search). The thigns I remember:

  • The glitter of the sun on the Atlantic Ocean as the plane from London wheeled and flew parallel to the shore before descending into Logan Airport.

  • The heat when I stepped out of the taxi on Boylston Street, a main thoroughfare in Boston's Back Bay district where I'd booked a room for the night.

  • The building where the b&b was located: terratotta coloured stone facade, windows eight feet high, stone steps leading up to an arched entryway, a small room on the second floor with a stained glass window.

  • Walking along Boylston Street at about 7pm to find somewhere to eat. All of the bars and restaurants filling up with people as they began their weekend relaxation. 

  • The Irish accents of the servers at the bar where I had a meal and a beer.

  • The impressive building on the corner of a street at the other end of Boylston, which I later found out was the music academy.

  • The bright low morning sun when I rose at 6 am on Saturday, August 26th, to pull my huge suitcase to the bus station. Slanting copper light on the street surface and burnt umber shadows cutting diagonal shapes across buildings and intersections.

In later years, I would return to Boston several times and spend days there, visiting the historic sites and museums. But on that first short visit, it took less than twenty-four hours for me to feel comfortable in this city with its historic connections to Europe and to the early centuries of the American colonies and republic.

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