Saturday, December 1, 2012

A View Seldom Seen

Cities like Boston have been around for centuries.  While the urban vistas evolve over time, with new buildings replacing the old.  But, all in all, the view corridors tend to stay the same over time.

But, once in a rare while, a new view corridor opens up, if only for a short while.

This view down St. Cecilia Street in the Back Bay section of Boston was only available for a few months early in 2012.  In the foreground, Berklee College of Music is constructing a new mixed use tower.  With the older buildings demolished and construction focused "in the hole" on the new foundations, there is no obstruction blocking this view from Massachusetts Avenue.  Months later, workers were erecting the steel frame of the new tower and the view was gone.

The tower on the right is St. Cecilia Church, one of the largest in the Back Bay.  St. Cecilia's is Catholic and, when built, it served the maids who worked for the wealthy Brahmans of Back Bay, who worshiped at churches prominently located on the main thoroughfares.  But for a few months, St. Cecilia's is in clear view of all traveling along Massachusetts Avenue, the arterial separating the Back Bay from the Fenway neighborhood.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Summer Strolls in Back Bay

Summer is my favorite time in Boston.  I take every chance to stroll around at lunch or after work.  Also, being a few blocks from my church, I've taken to walking over and playing the organ when no one's around.  It's a wonderful 15 to 20 minute stoll.

Here are three daytime photos plus one evening photo at the Christian Science Center.

The original John Hancock tower from the street next to the glass-clad newer Hancock tower.

Copley Fairmont Hotel on Dartmouth Street.

Trinity Church presides over Copley Square, while itself in the shaddow of office towers.

Curved building beautifully lit and reflected in the long pool at the Christian Science Center.

Views from a Platform

One of my favorite views of Boston, Cambridge, and the Charles River is partly of my own making. These are photos from the end of the platform at Charles Street on the Red Line, a rapid transit line in metropolitan Boston.

Back in the early 1980s, I was the project engineer for the project that extended the station platforms. The original station could only handle 4-car trains, and the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) wanted to run 6-car trains. The solution was to extend the platforms to and onto the Longfellow Bridges, which carries traffic, pedestrians, bicyclists, and the Red Line over the Charles River to Cambridge.

At the time, the original concept was an open platform, with only a tall picket fence. At one point, some in the MBTA were favoring a canopy over the platform and a wall, but we did not accept that recommendation. The advantage: many wonderful views are available for those waiting for a train. Also, standing out on the end of the platform, it's almost like being in the Esplanade, the parklands along the Charles River.

A young woman waits for her train to Cambridge, late on a summer afternoon in Aug. 2008.  It's a Saturday and I'm headed to Kendall Square to see Woody Allan's Vicky Christina Barcelona.

Above:  The Hancock and Prudential, Boston's two tallest buildings, tower above the trees of the Esplanade.

Sailboats dot the Charles at dusk in August 2012

A blimp floats over the Charles towards Fenway Park, where the Red Sox will be playing on this August evening, 4 years after the picture of the young woman.