Downtown Crossing | Discussion

citydweller

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My eyes are drawn to the beautifully restored architecture of the 3 top floors. The bottom two is bland enough that you don't really notice the suck factor. The marriage of the two could certainly have been better.
 

meddlepal

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What a perplexing column spacing on the facade. The beams clearly align with the ones above... Was this seriously a design decision or was it like this way before and they're just working with what they have?
Architect was handed a budget and got sloppy... I dunno, I don't like it. Fortunately, it's a relatively easy to undo mess someday in the future.
 

Shepard

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I was on a walk through DTX and surrounds yesterday. I haven't spent much time in the city during CovidTimes, so perhaps this is more emblematic now of "how things are" ... perhaps it's also emblematic of winter, or Sundays... that being said, I found it more depressing than ever.
  • More vacant and shuttered storefronts on Winter St than occupied ones, and a stationary cop car strobing its lights (does this make me feel safe?)
  • Macy*s sad excuses for window displays
  • Sad attempts at snowflake winter/holiday lights hanging abjectly over dirty streets like nobody cared
  • Streetscape of pedestrianized Washington St continues to be a confused mess, and the asphalt and concrete is all torn-up and patched
  • Even the new plaza with the bleachers at Millennium appeared cheap and underwhelming
  • The closed-off pedestrian zone on Franklin feels temporary, half-assed and forlorn
  • Disproportionate amount of anti-social behaviors going on - shout-out to some stoned guy in a masonry truck who parked right at the Irish Famine memorial and blasted some awful music from a souped-up stereo system
  • Historical sites like Old State House, Old South Meeting House, etc feel dirty, unloved and undercelebrated
  • Special shame-call on the Granary Burying Ground which was unkempt, and the Athenium building which faces onto it has a bunch of boarded-up windows; also, there's a blocked off lobby pass-thru entrance to some building on Park St - felt like the shitty courtyard of a large apartment complex in Queens
  • Tremont, Charles and Arlington Streets around and through the parks still feel like highways - this has been discussed 10+ years ... I guess we got some bike lanes so... woot woot?
Feel free to go hard on me for my negativity; I just got the distinct feeling that the whole area was suffering from underinvestment even despite the new developments. Day by day it feels like the soul of the city is moving ever further into the Seaport... which I don't consider to be a win.
 

stefal

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I was on a walk through DTX and surrounds yesterday. I haven't spent much time in the city during CovidTimes, so perhaps this is more emblematic now of "how things are" ... perhaps it's also emblematic of winter, or Sundays... that being said, I found it more depressing than ever.
  • More vacant and shuttered storefronts on Winter St than occupied ones, and a stationary cop car strobing its lights (does this make me feel safe?)
  • Macy*s sad excuses for window displays
  • Sad attempts at snowflake winter/holiday lights hanging abjectly over dirty streets like nobody cared
  • Streetscape of pedestrianized Washington St continues to be a confused mess, and the asphalt and concrete is all torn-up and patched
  • Even the new plaza with the bleachers at Millennium appeared cheap and underwhelming
  • The closed-off pedestrian zone on Franklin feels temporary, half-assed and forlorn
  • Disproportionate amount of anti-social behaviors going on - shout-out to some stoned guy in a masonry truck who parked right at the Irish Famine memorial and blasted some awful music from a souped-up stereo system
  • Historical sites like Old State House, Old South Meeting House, etc feel dirty, unloved and undercelebrated
  • Special shame-call on the Granary Burying Ground which was unkempt, and the Athenium building which faces onto it has a bunch of boarded-up windows; also, there's a blocked off lobby pass-thru entrance to some building on Park St - felt like the shitty courtyard of a large apartment complex in Queens
  • Tremont, Charles and Arlington Streets around and through the parks still feel like highways - this has been discussed 10+ years ... I guess we got some bike lanes so... woot woot?
Feel free to go hard on me for my negativity; I just got the distinct feeling that the whole area was suffering from underinvestment even despite the new developments. Day by day it feels like the soul of the city is moving ever further into the Seaport... which I don't consider to be a win.
It is a shame investment is tilting toward the Seaport, but I also feel that those characteristics shine brighter in the winter - some are likely exaggerated now with a lack of people to fill in the space, apart from the typical Bostonians in pickups playing music. I don't prefer to bring people along into and around Boston around now unless they know what to expect - it gets a different impression.

The pedestrian realm is due for some incremental improvements - this summer was a good start, and I hope there's some post-COVID push for enhanced pedestrian facilities, outdoor dining, and the like around Downtown and other neighborhoods.

Special shame-call on the Granary Burying Ground which was unkempt, and the Athenium building which faces onto it has a bunch of boarded-up windows
The Athenaeum is undergoing a large renovation. Otherwise, it is a beautiful building inside and out that should get some praise after the plywood and scaffolding come down.
 

DBM

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I was on a walk through DTX and surrounds yesterday. I haven't spent much time in the city during CovidTimes, so perhaps this is more emblematic now of "how things are" ... perhaps it's also emblematic of winter, or Sundays... that being said, I found it more depressing than ever.
  • More vacant and shuttered storefronts on Winter St than occupied ones, and a stationary cop car strobing its lights (does this make me feel safe?)
  • Macy*s sad excuses for window displays
  • Sad attempts at snowflake winter/holiday lights hanging abjectly over dirty streets like nobody cared
  • Streetscape of pedestrianized Washington St continues to be a confused mess, and the asphalt and concrete is all torn-up and patched
  • Even the new plaza with the bleachers at Millennium appeared cheap and underwhelming
  • The closed-off pedestrian zone on Franklin feels temporary, half-assed and forlorn
  • Disproportionate amount of anti-social behaviors going on - shout-out to some stoned guy in a masonry truck who parked right at the Irish Famine memorial and blasted some awful music from a souped-up stereo system
  • Historical sites like Old State House, Old South Meeting House, etc feel dirty, unloved and undercelebrated
  • Special shame-call on the Granary Burying Ground which was unkempt, and the Athenium building which faces onto it has a bunch of boarded-up windows; also, there's a blocked off lobby pass-thru entrance to some building on Park St - felt like the shitty courtyard of a large apartment complex in Queens
  • Tremont, Charles and Arlington Streets around and through the parks still feel like highways - this has been discussed 10+ years ... I guess we got some bike lanes so... woot woot?
Feel free to go hard on me for my negativity; I just got the distinct feeling that the whole area was suffering from underinvestment even despite the new developments. Day by day it feels like the soul of the city is moving ever further into the Seaport... which I don't consider to be a win.
Nothing wrong with negativity on this forum unless it's coming from a rehabilitated Rifleman. (Which I trust will never happen.) But, where are your comps? Far better to say, "Downtown Crossing sucks right now in comparison to its peer-group commercial districts A,B,C. Whereas A,B,C are doing X,Y,Z, Downtown Crossing is not, and therefore it is less vibrant/competitive/appealing as a result." Without identifying peer-group comparisons, it's being done in isolation, which strikes me as pointless.

Unless you're going to argue that DTX has no reasonable frame-of-reference peer group? Which would also be interesting as an exercise...

EDIT: I see you referenced the Seaport, but I don't get the sense that was done in order to do a real juxtaposition of peer-group districts.
 

Charlie_mta

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I was on a walk through DTX and surrounds yesterday. I haven't spent much time in the city during CovidTimes, so perhaps this is more emblematic now of "how things are" ... perhaps it's also emblematic of winter, or Sundays... that being said, I found it more depressing than ever.
  • More vacant and shuttered storefronts on Winter St than occupied ones, and a stationary cop car strobing its lights (does this make me feel safe?)
  • Macy*s sad excuses for window displays
  • Sad attempts at snowflake winter/holiday lights hanging abjectly over dirty streets like nobody cared
  • Streetscape of pedestrianized Washington St continues to be a confused mess, and the asphalt and concrete is all torn-up and patched
  • Even the new plaza with the bleachers at Millennium appeared cheap and underwhelming
  • The closed-off pedestrian zone on Franklin feels temporary, half-assed and forlorn
  • Disproportionate amount of anti-social behaviors going on - shout-out to some stoned guy in a masonry truck who parked right at the Irish Famine memorial and blasted some awful music from a souped-up stereo system
  • Historical sites like Old State House, Old South Meeting House, etc feel dirty, unloved and undercelebrated
  • Special shame-call on the Granary Burying Ground which was unkempt, and the Athenium building which faces onto it has a bunch of boarded-up windows; also, there's a blocked off lobby pass-thru entrance to some building on Park St - felt like the shitty courtyard of a large apartment complex in Queens
  • Tremont, Charles and Arlington Streets around and through the parks still feel like highways - this has been discussed 10+ years ... I guess we got some bike lanes so... woot woot?
Feel free to go hard on me for my negativity; I just got the distinct feeling that the whole area was suffering from underinvestment even despite the new developments. Day by day it feels like the soul of the city is moving ever further into the Seaport... which I don't consider to be a win.
I wonder how much of this rundown DTX condition is due to the pandemic. I'm guessing some of it. But I think you're right about the Seaport. It's isolated from major transit lines and is therefore probably safer. It's also shiny and new with handy highway access and just a BRT stop or two away from South Station and the Red Line (and Logan as well). And it's right on the water. The Seaport district has a lot going for it.
 

Shepard

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It is a shame investment is tilting toward the Seaport, but I also feel that those characteristics shine brighter in the winter - some are likely exaggerated now with a lack of people to fill in the space, apart from the typical Bostonians in pickups playing music. I don't prefer to bring people along into and around Boston around now unless they know what to expect - it gets a different impression.

The pedestrian realm is due for some incremental improvements - this summer was a good start, and I hope there's some post-COVID push for enhanced pedestrian facilities, outdoor dining, and the like around Downtown and other neighborhoods.



The Athenaeum is undergoing a large renovation. Otherwise, it is a beautiful building inside and out that should get some praise after the plywood and scaffolding come down.
i take your point about the winter. To dig further though, the Seaport not only looks better in winter but it’s been decked out with real winter programming that draws people. DTX just kind of looks like someone did the bare minimum and threw in the towel. Back Bay retains a good deal of its vitality in the winter, I find - even gets some added charm perhaps - while DTX area just kind of dies. (Also to @DBM’s point.)
 

Shepard

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i take your point about the winter. To dig further though, the Seaport not only looks better in winter but it’s been decked out with real winter programming that draws people. DTX just kind of looks like someone did the bare minimum and threw in the towel. Back Bay retains a good deal of its vitality in the winter, I find - even gets some added charm perhaps - while DTX area just kind of dies. (Also to @DBM’s point.)

I wonder how much of this rundown DTX condition is due to the pandemic. I'm guessing some of it. But I think you're right about the Seaport. It's isolated from major transit lines and is therefore probably safer. It's also shiny and new with handy highway access and just a BRT stop or two away from South Station and the Red Line (and Logan as well). And it's right on the water. The Seaport district has a lot going for it.
Wow - great counterintuitive point. I wouldn’t have ever said (or wanted to say) that being a transit hub makes DTX junky and the Seaport with its lack of transit remains shiny (exclusive?)... I’m not sure it’s true (I dont want it to be true) but it is compelling food for thought.

it also makes me realize that DTX is backwards branding for a neighborhood. What’s the urban value in a “crossing?” Is everyone just passing through? Taking no notice? Doing a good bit of nothing? Sure felt like it on Sunday.
 

Bananarama

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DTX has very few restaurants/bars along the main drag. So the "street dinning" is minimal-none. Washington is almost all retail, which closes early and saps any night-life quality from the area. The little public staircase al la Times Square is nice but closes after dark... I'm sure some US liability issues involved, ruining the fun as usual.

And I've harped on this before, but more of the shops are big chain companies. I can give Macy's a slide, but Old Navy, Primark, 4 unremarkable chain shoe stores, TJ Maxx + Marshalls... such a dud of lame retail. Might as well be in a strip mall at the edge of town.

Imagine DTX with cafes and bars sprinkled throughout, extending the hours of activity in the area. Actually taking advantage of the wide open pedestrian street.
 

JumboBuc

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I was on a walk through DTX and surrounds yesterday. I haven't spent much time in the city during CovidTimes, so perhaps this is more emblematic now of "how things are" ... perhaps it's also emblematic of winter, or Sundays... that being said, I found it more depressing than ever.
Sundays in the winter are always when DTX is at its absolute deadest, and that was true even before we entered the height of a global pandemic.

That being said, the pedestrian zone does need some work and more consistent paving, and that should be put squarely on the City to take care of. Washington should get the same treatment Summer has between the Burnham building and Macy's, and Winter should be torn up and re-bricked.
Wow - great counterintuitive point. I wouldn’t have ever said (or wanted to say) that being a transit hub makes DTX junky and the Seaport with its lack of transit remains shiny (exclusive?)... I’m not sure it’s true (I dont want it to be true) but it is compelling food for thought.

it also makes me realize that DTX is backwards branding for a neighborhood. What’s the urban value in a “crossing?” Is everyone just passing through? Taking no notice? Doing a good bit of nothing? Sure felt like it on Sunday.
I don't for one second buy that transit access harms the neighborhood. This would fly in the face of the experience of basically every urban environment ever. I also don't buy that anyone gives any thought to the "crossing" "branding" of DTX for even a second.
DTX has very few restaurants/bars along the main drag. So the "street dinning" is minimal-none. Washington is almost all retail, which closes early and saps any night-life quality from the area. The little public staircase al la Times Square is nice but closes after dark... I'm sure some US liability issues involved, ruining the fun as usual.

And I've harped on this before, but more of the shops are big chain companies. I can give Macy's a slide, but Old Navy, Primark, 4 unremarkable chain shoe stores, TJ Maxx + Marshalls... such a dud of lame retail. Might as well be in a strip mall at the edge of town.

Imagine DTX with cafes and bars sprinkled throughout, extending the hours of activity in the area. Actually taking advantage of the wide open pedestrian street.
We've talked about this before, but I see all the affordable retail clustered in DTX as a positive, not a negative. The Back Bay has the old money, the Seaport is increasingly getting the new money, and DTX has the retail for the hundreds of thousands of Boston residents and workers who are not "money" of either generation. It's the perfect place for families and kids and workers from the neighborhoods to take the Orange Line to do their shopping.

The staircase gets a good amount of use in the summers, even in the evening.

But yeah, more restaurants and bars complementing that retail would for sure be a win. Hopefully this is a direction we can move once the pandemic is behind us, and the liberalization of liquor licenses would be a key step in helping that become a reality.
 

Charlie_mta

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DTX's name should be changed to "Downtown Center" (DTC), and many more restaurants and bars established with loans/aid from the city as needed.

The thing about rail transit is that it does make easy access for kids who grab purses, etc. Sorry for not being PC on this, but it seems to happen in metro downtowns that are half dead already, I think this can be mitigated by ramping up the number of restaurants, bars, and nightlife, and increase security as well. I remember in the 70's and 80's when my suburban relatives didn't want to go to "downtown" (DTX) anymore for shopping because of crimes. One of my aunts had her purse snatched by some kid running by, and that was it for her and all my relatives.
 

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