Let's Make Boston More Fun


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Oct 9, 2017
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The new Hub on Causeway complex and the accompanying revival of that area should pump up the nightlife, bar and music scene. Also the developments in the Kenmore Square area, and the Union Square area with the GLX opening. The trend is upward in several metro area locales.
Yeah, but how many pools are there?


Staff member
Jan 22, 2012
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sorry bud, hurts that Boston is so anti-fun and behind the times, but it's getting a little better and hopefully we can make a change and make it fun and attractive to the next generation and livable and safe for all
To be honest bud, it seems to me that you're looking for someone to do your undergrad public policy action project for you. 🤷‍♂️

I’d like to push back on the cheap shots being taken here.
Care to elaborate on that?


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Dec 10, 2011
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George_Apley has clearly figured out where the moderator's control panel is (I have not).
Inspired by his re-naming, I'd like to try a reboot here.

First I'd like to propose a workable definition of fun:

Fun: a combination of time, place, and activity
- Fun times: non-workday, non-sleep events and times of day conducive to fun; e.g., Happy Hour, 3:30 last call, festivals
- Fun places: accessible venues for social activities; third places that are neither home nor work; e.g. pools
- Fun activities: social interactions designed to induce pleasant feelings, such as relaxation, connection, transcendence, or elation

Second, I'd like to set aside the question of there being a fun competition, and simply ask: "Is Boston as fun as you want it to be? And if it isn't what are your priorities? What are you willing to do (and not do) in order to make it more fun?"

Third, I'd like to propose that you could address fun in a "both/and" way compatible with other goals like:
1) Climate resilience (waterfront parks that act as sea barriers)
2) Housing (venues on the first floor of new, denser neighborhood hubs
3) Transportation (hmm...bike & walking ?)
4) Equity distributing fun across the metro area (as the MDC/DCR rinks and pools kinda do)
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Senior Member
Dec 1, 2015
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was this the original thread title? i forgot already.

i've often wondered why Boston doesn't have a neat Ferris Wheel or such place where kids can go on rides and eat Cotton Candy.

Some of you might remember the Christmas Expo of '68 or '69 on the Common, which brought worldwide attention. It was incredible to be a just old enough to know who Bobby Orr was. But the Christmas celebrations run by the Archdiocese in the Late '60's/early 70's on the Common were freaking AMAZING for us very young kids. With the Common considerably more lit up than in latter times, it all seemed to stretch to infinity like something from a fairy tale--in '68, the production was so huge, it was like Disney putting on Christmas.

Attending meetings are tough for all of us. But sometimes you learn cool stuff when you attend.... ideas being kicked around.

For some of us, a more iconic City is fun.

Back when we were chiding the 702' "L-shaped" behemoth to rise at Winthrop Square (late Jan/early Feb 2018), i showed up early for that key, final meeting and spoke with Steve Matkovits (Handel) and Joe Larkin, with my "You don't have a choice," opinion about the crucial need to split the tower into twin peaks above the office floors.

A bit later, Greeley (i think it was) from the BPDA tapped me on the shoulder and presented [Kennan Rhyne], heading up the new, Downtown Planning Initiative.
(whoa). It was still kind of a secret (then), not announced until months later in June. Some of you will recall the City putting out an informal request for proposals (up to and including the outlandish) for around the Downtown area (undoubtedly, to help the initiative see in 3 dimensions what it might not be seeing). Naturally, when these facts were presented by Ms Rhyne, i was fairly stunned.

My (how to lose people in 30 seconds) talk with Ms Rhyne began something like this:

ME: "That's really cool. Have you all been at this for a while? i've posted on Sky City & the Globe that we needed a 'skyscraper plan.'"
Ms RHYNE: "Yes, i have read some of those comments. We started this last year. We're doing the first comprehensive study since the 1960's." (Ms Rhyne kindly left out: 'Yeah, calling it that would be very dumb. It would be urban malpractice to call it a Skyscraper Plan in Boston.')
ME: 'It should be far reaching and emphasize height: Developers need to know how tall a site can theoretically go; allowing the process take its natural course. It's essential to hold future capacity in reserve in that way, with theoretical height as the starting point."
Ms RHYNE: "It's not going to be presented in a loud way, but the City is open to looking at height in a more effective way."
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Jan 15, 2015
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This discussion reminds me of an old thread on here with some great discussion surrounding real estate development, architecture, and culture's relationship, and what constitutes good architecture and urban spaces (which can in turn lead to 'fun' places, IMO).


While not entirely related to having fun, this is an architecture forum, so if we're to figure out how to create spaces for the purpose of 'fun,' we should definitely be discussing how the places for fun in a "both/and" manner would be designed and come together, and the thread I alluded to earlier also linked to the great 22 theses by ablarc, which might come in handy in designing such places:

At its most fundamental I don't think building good cities is a question of style at all --though we forumers seem obsessed with it. I think it's a question of first principles, and these are wholly independent of style or regionalism, precisely because they're universal --that is, equally valid in all places (and times).

It was those more universal issues I wanted to touch on, and the more exotic the illustrations of these were, the more universal I hoped would seem the principles they were chosen to convey. These include:

1. intimate space

2. diversity through small-increment development by different owners

3. boldly-conceived infrastructure (Yeah, canals and landfill !)

4. buildings that touch

5. background buildings --if the paradigm is right.

6. roof forms and materials as unifiers

7. casually varied relationships between buildings (NOT defined by uniformizing rigidities of zoning)

8. small, irregular lots

9. a central focus or main square with a monument or two

10. architecture that's not hidebound with prissy strictures against frank revivalism ("We can't do that, it was done a hundred years ago.")

11. if the streetscape is sound, interesting and pleasant to look at, you don't need many trees. They take up room and divert from the task at hand

12 hundreds of small buildings give you more places than a few dozen big ones

13. if you build a great place you'll make money; you don't have to start with current market wisdom

14. make every square inch count

15 build in the hierachy; coherence will follow (put the most important things in the center)

16. bold topographic ideas like landfill and canals (you make the former with what you excavate to make the latter)

17. don't be afraid to design for the rich. The best things only the rich can afford (Back Bay, Beacon Hill --then and now. The rest of us visit to get our jollies.)

18. pint-sized streets:

19. an intimately-scaled water's edge

20. don't be afraid to design pretty, and don't design for your colleagues

21. don't be afraid to risk a little hokeyness (if you think about it, Back Bay had more than a little Disney in its genes)

22. Taste is perhaps debatable, but mediocrity can be legislated.

^ Come to think of it, didn't I just make a list of the fundamental sources of Boston's goodness ? --where Boston is good, of course.

That's Back Bay, not NorthPoint; Beacon Hill, not the West End; the North End, not Kendall Square; Harvard Square, not MIT.

I bet you can assign at least one favorite Boston 'hood to every point above.

I can.

Oh ... and I forgot to mention red brick! ;) :p :D


I think if you continue to fundamentally follow those 22 steps, you can begin to see more 'fun' places in Boston. No pool parties, probably, but I don't think many people are asking for those.

While Arlington has suggested a working definition(s) of 'fun,' (which are a good start), we should remember the discussion about superficiality and authenticity in the Assembly thread a little over a year ago, which, in my opinion, has been one of the better conversations held on this forum in recent years.

Third, I'd like to propose that you could address fun in a "both/and" way compatible with other goals like:
1) Climate resilience (waterfront parks that act as sea barriers)

We've seen some good climate-resilient /and/ fun in Boston recently, too, with Martin's Park.