Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists See

Beton Brut

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What are the most embarrassing blighted parcels that tourists see?

Criteria as follows:
1) Must be in a somewhat central location that tourists actually walk past (e.g. not an industrial ruin 6 miles from the city center)
2) Must be why-hasn't-this-been-solved-by-now sort of situation (e.g., the site actually has potential)
Just did an errand on Salem Street, and walked through throngs of touristos from Aquarium Station. How did I not think of this embarrassing parking lot until my companion and I had the misfortune to walk past it?
 

stefal

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Just did an errand on Salem Street, and walked through throngs of touristos from Aquarium Station. How did I not think of this embarrassing parking lot until my companion and I had the misfortune to walk past it?
I've always wondered why that hasn't been touched... Can't do anything big because of North End NIMBYS, but it is PRIME real estate.
 

BeeLine

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I've always wondered why that hasn't been touched... Can't do anything big because of North End NIMBYS, but it is PRIME real estate.
I thought it is owned by some state agency (Massport/MassDot?). Totally agree Prime real estate.
 

Beton Brut

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^ I'm not 100% sure, but I think MassDOT (formerly the Turnpike Authority) owns the lot. It's presence across the street form the ramp parcel is absolutely deadening, a cigarette burn in the urban fabric.
 

BostonUrbEx

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How about 'Boston - Most Embarrassing Blight That Tourists Smell'?

Walk the North End on a hot summer day and you can smell the sewer system. What specifically causes that? Is there an "easy" fix?
 

statler

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We just tell people that it is molasses from the great flood. :D
 

HenryAlan

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Good gravy...

So when crossing the channel the tourists only look toward the museum side??? Do you think some may look may look toward the post office and gillette and think "what a lost opportunity" or"this could be so nice if....."

I'm sure there's been 1 or 2 tourists that have ventured thru sullivan..

Loosen up
Or they might think, "wow, cool, Boston still has some industry and logistical services right downtown." Not every inch of the city is meant to be for their personal enjoyment. At any rate, do yourself a favor and go have a drink on the Intercontinental's patio some evening. It really is a fantastic spot, despite that grotesque postal facility.
 
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FitchburgLine

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Another nomination for the Post Office. If it was owned by anyone other than the federal government a PDA with millions of SF of office space would be filed by now.
 

Hubman

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West End. If you are entering Boston from the North, the first thing you see is that horrible mass of 60s apartment and office towers, and you think "Isn't Boston all historic and shit?".
 

JumboBuc

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West End. If you are entering Boston from the North, the first thing you see is that horrible mass of 60s apartment and office towers, and you think "Isn't Boston all historic and shit?".
I doubt a single tourist (who isn't a dedicated urbanist who reads blogs about this sort of stuff) notices or cares about this.
 

tangent

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Another nomination for the Post Office. If it was owned by anyone other than the federal government a PDA with millions of SF of office space would be filed by now.
Last time I checked they were hundreds of millions of dollars apart from making that an economically viable move the post office. If this was a private landowner they wouldn't even be wasting time talking about it.

And that is with hundreds of millions in government subsidies already on the table. The post office is ugly and I could see something else going there someday... but it isn't blighted in any reasonable definition of the word and it makes sense to have a mail facility and distribution facilities within the city in a central location.

And also last time I checked they were proposing moving it from one waterfront location to another waterfront location... which makes no sense whatsoever unless you are going to be gold digging for more government subsidies to move it again in 50 years and lamenting the poor placement on the waterfront.
 

tangent

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West End. If you are entering Boston from the North, the first thing you see is that horrible mass of 60s apartment and office towers, and you think "Isn't Boston all historic and shit?".

West End doesn't look so bad anymore, except at ground level it doesn't feel at all like it is part of the city.
 

tangent

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If we are going to talk about non-blighted stuff we just don't like the looks of for whatever reason... Bunker Hill Community College. Surface parking lots and an ugly building that frames the view of the Bunker Hill monument and historic Charlestown and it is right at the entrance to the city from the North.

They could and should sell the main building/parking/playing fields and build a new modern facility (or renovate historic buildings in Charestown for college use) either on a smaller footprint there or on a smaller footprint elsewhere.

I still see dilapidated historic buildings at the old Navy Yard there that look up for grabs that would help create a campus feel nearer the waterfront.
 

Lrfox

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West End. If you are entering Boston from the North, the first thing you see is that horrible mass of 60s apartment and office towers, and you think "Isn't Boston all historic and shit?".
From where in the North? If you're coming in on 93, I think most people would simply overlook the West End. There's a lot more to distract them - the Zakim, the Bunker Hill Monument, the great view of the Back Bay Skyline, the Financial District and Custom House Tower straight ahead, and even the TD Garden and the looming development around it. I don't think I've ever really noticed the West End from that direction.

If you're coming in on Route 1 (over the Tobin), you get one of the best overall skyline views in the city. To me this is the angle Boston looks the largest from as you get the range from the Casino/Assembly, Bunker Hill, Kendall, Longwood, Back Bay, North Station, Financial District, Eastie, and Seaport. I feel like the West End is the last thing people notice.

Maybe you get that perspective coming in by the MoS on Charles River Dam Rd., but only if you're coming by car or by foot (though the pedestrians are most likely to be engaged by the River and activity going on there rather than the generic apartment buildings in the distance). Not so much on the Green Line which actually provides some nice views via the viaduct.

And a strange note about the West End from my ex-girlfriend. We walked to the MoS from Staniford via Thoreau Path once. Before we crossed Staniford into the West End, I gave her the rundown on it being a shitty neighborhood (aesthetically speaking), and a brief history of how it once "looked a lot like the North End." As we were walking the path, she said "I expected a dump, this is actually really pretty, a nice break from the city." i was surprised, but it's hard to disagree. The Thoreau Path is pleasant. Pace's is actually a nice spot to stop for lunch on a nice day and sit outside. I think on AB we view it through our urbanist lenses and it's bad. It's worse when you know what was there before. But I think the untrained eye sees a hospital campus, some generic apartments, and a relatively pleasant walkway.
 

bakgwailo

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And also last time I checked they were proposing moving it from one waterfront location to another waterfront location... which makes no sense whatsoever unless you are going to be gold digging for more government subsidies to move it again in 50 years and lamenting the poor placement on the waterfront.
The idea would be they are moving it that much closer to Logan with basically direct tunnel access. Now that mail isn't mainly sent by train/Amtrak, the location next to South Station doesn't make sense, but closer to the Airport does.
 

Hubman

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I doubt a single tourist (who isn't a dedicated urbanist who reads blogs about this sort of stuff) notices or cares about this.
Even tourists with no architectural interest can tell that its ugly and doesn't fit what they thought (cobblestone streets, brick churches).
 

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