General Boston Discussion

bigpicture7

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This write-up, which places Boston in 2nd place nationally, is a refreshing take about the importance of "place" IMO:


So much of recent discussion has been about "what do we do with office towers," and it is missing the bigger point, which is:
Leaders need to understand where these centers are and the kinds of strategies that will help them grow.That includes enhancing connectivity to and within them, supporting housing and business growth, and investing in quality public spaces where residents and visitors want to socialize and engage in civic life.
It's about what to do with the overall place, not just the office towers. If the place was easier to get to, easier to live in, easier to play in, easier to meet people you would want to meet on your own volition...then CBDs wouldn't be this dreaded I-only-go-there-for-work abyss that contemporary narratives are making them out to be.
 
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themissinglink

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"A nice tall building site." Anything less than the FAA limit at Pi Alley and Bromfield is a failure. It's great that Jemison and Mayor Wu both agree that they key to bringing back downtown is adding residents. The question is are they going to cave to existing residents or welcome new ones?
It would be nice if the Dock Square Garage redevelopment could also reach the FAA limit, which seems to be somewhere in the 675' to 700' range.

Too bad that parcel isn't included in the downtown revitalization effort.
 

#bancars

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An ignominious achievement for Boston. Renting in Boston is one of the biggest scams in the country, given the old stock, the unaffordable new stock, the fact that people can tour your apartment while still living there, the fact that landlords puts it on the previous and new tenants to clean the apartment between moves, the broker fee, and the outrageous first and last month deposit.
The value proposition for living in Boston grows more headscratching for me by the day. The rental and housing markets are truly insane, but the city doesn't really offer anything you can't get in another major metro area, unless you need/want to live in the leading life sciences city in the country.

I love Boston and generally enjoy living here, but I can't imagine staying for more than another 5 years or so...there are other cities in the US that offer just as high if not a higher quality of life for a much more affordable price point.
 

bigpicture7

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The value proposition for living in Boston grows more headscratching for me by the day. The rental and housing markets are truly insane, but the city doesn't really offer anything you can't get in another major metro area, unless you need/want to live in the leading life sciences city in the country.

I love Boston and generally enjoy living here, but I can't imagine staying for more than another 5 years or so...there are other cities in the US that offer just as high if not a higher quality of life for a much more affordable price point.
I'm shared my own Boston narrative arc elsewhere on aB in the past. I'm taking a wild guess in assuming I'm a few years older than you (I'm early 40s). But my arc goes like this: as a young kid I thought Boston was big and amazing with endless possibilities (where I wanted to end up as an adult); went to college here and my opinion was still positive but began to change (Boston felt small, not much happening); started working here in my 20s and completely lost faith in Boston (Boston is tiny, overpriced, "everyone leaves after college," nightlife sucks, hard to find someone to date, etc), then I took work assignments far away from Boston in my late 20s (London = wow, yet unbelievably expensive, U.S. midwest and south = omg SO affordable, value is crazy), by the time I hit early 30s I ended up back here and fell back in love with Boston hard (this place is not small if you include all the neighborhoods/environs and compare it to peer metros, punches way above its weight for cultural institutions and urban environment: MFA, Bos Symphony, ballet, sports teams, university related stuff, walkability/streetscapes, emerald necklace, harbor islands), and now in early 40s: hard to find a better one-stop-shop for raising a kid and being able to expose them to anything imaginable on any given weekend. My wife and I went (essentially) car-free and explore every pocket of the city with our kid; also, the playgrounds are fantastic and plentiful. My kid is young and its great not to have a yard to take care of or hire someone to take care of. Kid would rather spend time playing (with me) than watching me ride a lawn mower, and the kid doesn't know or care who owns the grass beneath his feet (and there's lots of publicly accessible outdoor space on/near transit here).

Housing supply and transit efficacy are HUGE issues here and will break Boston if work isn't done ASAP. But the critical piece is that Boston has great bones and is worth saving.
 

shmessy

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I'm shared my own Boston narrative arc elsewhere on aB in the past. I'm taking a wild guess in assuming I'm a few years older than you (I'm early 40s). But my arc goes like this: as a young kid I thought Boston was big and amazing with endless possibilities (where I wanted to end up as an adult); went to college here and my opinion was still positive but began to change (Boston felt small, not much happening); started working here in my 20s and completely lost faith in Boston (Boston is tiny, overpriced, "everyone leaves after college," nightlife sucks, hard to find someone to date, etc), then I took work assignments far away from Boston in my late 20s (London = wow, yet unbelievably expensive, U.S. midwest and south = omg SO affordable, value is crazy), by the time I hit early 30s I ended up back here and fell back in love with Boston hard (this place is not small if you include all the neighborhoods/environs and compare it to peer metros, punches way above its weight for cultural institutions and urban environment: MFA, Bos Symphony, ballet, sports teams, university related stuff, walkability/streetscapes, emerald necklace, harbor islands), and now in early 40s: hard to find a better one-stop-shop for raising a kid and being able to expose them to anything imaginable on any given weekend. My wife and I went (essentially) car-free and explore every pocket of the city with our kid; also, the playgrounds are fantastic and plentiful. My kid is young and its great not to have a yard to take care of or hire someone to take care of. Kid would rather spend time playing (with me) than watching me ride a lawn mower, and the kid doesn't know or care who owns the grass beneath his feet (and there's lots of publicly accessible outdoor space on/near transit here).

Housing supply and transit efficacy are HUGE issues here and will break Boston if work isn't done ASAP. But the critical piece is that Boston has great bones and is worth saving.
Wow. You hit the nail on the head.

Transit and Housing. Boston is UNIQUELY positioned to be the city of the 21st and 22nd centuries in the Knowledge Economy. The universities, medical centers and STEM companies make it. The old-timey Eddie King/Bulger People are the iron anchor around the city's ankle. The city has bloomed as that old-time culture dies off or moves away and the New Boston moves in (or, in the case of the university students who USED to leave after graduating) now stay and put down roots.

Am I being "elitist"? Yes. Damn right. The patronage of the 20th century is giving way to the competitive advantage of the 21st century in Boston. Mayor Wu is a great illustration. Bringing in the "Best and the Brightest" like Arthur Jemison at the BPDA and Tiffany Chu as her new Chief of Staff (whose background is actually in Urban Planning and design) is as STRONG A STATEMENT I've ever seen since Kevin White (who, albeit not perfect) broke the mold in the last 1960's with Micho Spring, Fred Salvucci, Barney Frank, Ann Lewis, Peter Meade and Paul Grogan.

Push the remaining clock watchers out of the way. With a new Governor Healey, maybe the partnership can flourish to fix the T (instead of Charlie Baker/Ron Swanson).

Transit and Housing. Fix those two things...... and in 15 years, Boston can have over 1 million in population.
 

DBM

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Am I being "elitist"? Yes.
I prefer to think that you're being anti-Howie Carr. Which means, pro-rationalism, pro-humanism, pro-democracy, pro-meritocracy, pro-empathy. What's not to love?
 

Scott

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You could give the locals a wee bit of credit for building the place and stop blaming them for bad 20th Century politicians which was pretty universal
 

shmessy

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You could give the locals a wee bit of credit for building the place and stop blaming them for bad 20th Century politicians which was pretty universal
They built and paid for it themselves?????? We all know the answer. They supplied the manual labor - - so I give them MORE than a wee bit of credit for that (but how is that any different from laborers in other cities in that regard? This discussion is about what SEPARATES Boston from other cities on these lists) - - many of them climbed into positions of patronage and management and completely forked it all up into what we see of the malpractice/corruption of the MBTA, BPD, Staties, etc.

Were it not for the the universities, etc., Boston is Newark or St Louis.

The Delta that separates Boston from Akron are the universities/medical/tech - the New Boston. And the old-time local townies are still the biggest threat to Boston's progress.
 
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Scott

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Not laborers, the average Bostonian. It is the people and culture that define Boston and set it apart and it's the taxpayer that helped finance the infrastructure you see that made the city so desirable. I say to my wife, you came here because it was desirable to you and good for your life, you helped make it better but the locals created it
 

Charlie_mta

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They built and paid for it themselves?????? We all know the answer. They supplied the manual labor - - so I give them MORE than a wee bit of credit for that (but how is that any different from laborers in other cities in that regard? This discussion is about what SEPARATES Boston from other cities on these lists) - - many of them climbed into positions of patronage and management and completely forked it all up into what we see of the malpractice/corruption of the MBTA, BPD, Staties, etc.

Were it not for the the universities, etc., Boston is Newark or St Louis.

The Delta that separates Boston from Akron are the universities/medical/tech - the New Boston. And the old-time local townies are still the biggest threat to Boston's progress.
Boston's physical location along the ocean with great beaches and just generally a beautiful area also have helped Boston rise above places like Philly, Baltimore, Newark, etc.
 

xec

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The Delta that separates Boston from Akron are the universities/medical/tech - the New Boston.
You mean universities like Harvard (founded 1636), MIT (1861), BC (1863), BU (founded 1838, relocated to Boston 1867), NU (1898), or medical institutions like Mass General (1811), Mass E&E (1824), Children's (1869), and NE Baptist (1893)?

I didn't know the "New Boston" began all the way back in the 17th century. Frankly, my dear, the "New Boston" has been here all along. It just took the advent of mass media, advertising, marketing and PR campaigns for opportunistic shills to try to make Boston something other than what it has been since its founding.

And the old-time local townies are still the biggest threat to Boston's progress.
Your preference for arriviste elites over old-time locals is not too dissimilar to justifications given by white imperialists for colonizing the lands of "lesser" races: "Yeah, they were here first, but we can make much better use of this place, so fuck'em."

Maybe studying quaint old-timey colonialism will give you some ideas you can present to Mayor Wu for dealing with "the biggest threat to Boston's progress". I'm sure "New Boston" will be grateful and generously reward you for your efforts.

Lastly, a word of caution for you. The elites converging on the "New Boston" from all corners of the globe aren't coming here to do the work of the "old-time local townies". They're coming here to do the work of the "old-time local elites", which probably includes you. Don't be surprised to find you and yours included among the "biggest threats to Boston's progress" in the not too distant future. Here's a preview of that for you:

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/8r3yme
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion...and other historic figures — had been removed.

https://www.beckershospitalreview.c...f-white-male-leaders-in-diversity-effort.html
 

shmessy

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You mean universities like Harvard (founded 1636), MIT (1861), BC (1863), BU (founded 1838, relocated to Boston 1867), NU (1898), or medical institutions like Mass General (1811), Mass E&E (1824), Children's (1869), and NE Baptist (1893)?

I didn't know the "New Boston" began all the way back in the 17th century. Frankly, my dear, the "New Boston" has been here all along. It just took the advent of mass media, advertising, marketing and PR campaigns for opportunistic shills to try to make Boston something other than what it has been since its founding.



Your preference for arriviste elites over old-time locals is not too dissimilar to justifications given by white imperialists for colonizing the lands of "lesser" races: "Yeah, they were here first, but we can make much better use of this place, so fuck'em."

Maybe studying quaint old-timey colonialism will give you some ideas you can present to Mayor Wu for dealing with "the biggest threat to Boston's progress". I'm sure "New Boston" will be grateful and generously reward you for your efforts.

Lastly, a word of caution for you. The elites converging on the "New Boston" from all corners of the globe aren't coming here to do the work of the "old-time local townies". They're coming here to do the work of the "old-time local elites", which probably includes you. Don't be surprised to find you and yours included among the "biggest threats to Boston's progress" in the not too distant future. Here's a preview of that for you:

https://www.reddit.com/r/boston/comments/8r3yme
https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2019/06/18/removing-portraits-mistaken-approach-promoting-diversity-medicine/CMM1tzAf61duL4o5MmB5NL/story.html#:~:text=The walls were entirely bare. Thirty-one oil portraits,and other historic figures — had been removed.

https://www.beckershospitalreview.c...f-white-male-leaders-in-diversity-effort.html

"Frankly, my dear"??????
"Don't be surprised to find you and yours included among the "biggest threats to Boston's progress" in the not too distant future."????


I don't understand why you needed to go in a personal attack direction, but that's for you to self-examine.

But onto THE POINT, those great institutions you listed never ceased to exist in the 1950's, 1960's, 1970's. As far as I recall, they WERE INDEED still here. And it still was the old parochial, backwater Boston. I can't imagine anyone claims "New Boston" existed in Mayor Curley's time.......or Louise Day Hicks'.....or Dapper O'Neil's?

The Delta is the New Bostonians added to the great backbone of the old academic/medical/cultural institutions - - - and changing of the guard in old vastly racist (yes, vastly racist) neighborhoods such as Southie, Charlestown, Somerville, etc. with more diverse populations.

The rest of your personal attack post is strange. You have no idea who I am and where I come from and to support your certitude ("you and yours").

But you are batting .500 with this: ".....The elites converging on the "New Boston" from all corners of the globe aren't coming here to do the work of the "old-time local townies" (check mark). They're coming here to do the work of the "old-time local elites", which probably includes you." (incorrect x mark)

1) Yup, the new "elites' are indeed not coming here to do the work of the "old-time townies". The newcomers who are replacing the old-time townies to be a cop or work on the T aren't moving here from U Colorado/Boulder or Stanford. That is for the previously isolated and discriminated against groups of the city and new immigrant populations who are displacing the old-time townies. A more diverse population and police/firefighter/union etc. is a good thing and a new thing for Boston. Hopefully, for many of these "new townies", this newly more available rung on the ladder can be the first step to climbing to the 'elite".
2) But these new 'elites' are also not "coming here to do the work of the "old-time local elites" either. They are taking Boston in a new and dynamic direction. They won't be the elites who instituted the Sunday Blue Laws or gave international reputation to the term "Banned in Boston". Yes, history is a pendulum and the SOME of the actions the new Bostonians may take may be idiotic in a DIFFERENT direction (i.e., the Brigham and Women's portrait removal). Looking for a 100% agreement all the time is for comic book readers. Mayor Wu, Vlodomyr Zelensky, the Bruins have made some bad moves over the course of this year with many great moves. I'm not going to cherry pick the few bad ones and close my mind to their overall performance.

Unlike your post, I won't take to personally categorizing who you are (in your ugly words, "you and yours"). An argument that includes personal attacks usually signifies an attempt to deflect away from a bereft point. From your post "word of caution". Attack argument points. Don't make personal attacks.
 
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Scott

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The argument that the old residents are somehow a problem is what is being attacked
 

Charlie_mta

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I don't know much about Boston, but I grew up in Cambridge in the 1950s thru the 70s, and it was a dynamic mixing bowl of new people and townies the entire time. The public high school (Cambridge High and Latin) I went to was about 15% out-of-towners, children of people associated with Harvard and MIT. I got to know many of them and was close friends to a couple of them. Great people, not from the area usually. Yes, Boston had it's stronghold neighborhoods, but Cambridge wasn't that way so much. It had the Portuguese/Italian neighborhood of East Cambridge, the French Canadian/Irish in North Cambridge, a Black neighborhood southwest of Central Square and a Black middle class neighborhood in West Cambridge. But it was more wide open and dynamic than most places in the US, from my experience at least.
 

shmessy

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The argument that the old residents are somehow a problem is what is being attacked

Not a "problem" at all. The first 3/4's of 20th century Boston saw a staid culture that was a brake on dynamic progress.

The Boston of the 50's, 60's and 70's was a nice place to live, no doubt. It was also a parochial, 3rd tier, backwater city.

The "delta" that raised Boston to it's dynamic, world-class, top of list international destination city of today has been the changing demographic and the shifting of power from Town to Gown (and Stethoscope, etc.).

Boston broke out and raised its game because of its demographic shifts. Having grown up in Greater Boston in the 60s and 70s and returning to the city today…….it is almost unrecognizable.

Southie and Roxbury, from two extremes, are no longer holding pens for disposed whites and blacks to stay down and in their corners. Today they are far safer for “outsiders” and present far more economic opportunities and mobility for the children of their longtime residents. It’s a very positive and exciting shift.
 
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bigpicture7

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Guys, this isn't an either/or. Boston was built by both the old guard and new guard in ways that neither could accomplish alone. As one example (don't have time to find the citations but you can easily google this), MIT is both an old institution that traces its legacy to Copley Sq. in the mid-1800s, as well as cutting-edge in ways that draw newcomers to the area from all ends of the earth. In the 1970s MIT was a pioneer in essentially launching the biotech industry (a jewel of "new Boston"); yet in the '70s many locals wanted to shut down research related to genetics and DNA because they feared it, there was NIMBYism about building the associated labs, etc. A group of researchers and scientists had to make a case before the Cambridge City Council about both the importance and safety of this work, leading to some of the first local regulations on this type of research. You would be hard pressed to find a more dramatic example of old-debates-new than those photos of the council chamber in the '70s when nerds (may of whom not originally from Boston) went head to head with deeply entrenched local pols and community stakeholders. In any case, the result was a set of guidelines and regulations that actually stabilized Cambridge (and later Boston) as a haven for DNA-based research that investors flocked to because they viewed the situation as "this tricky debate has already been settled here" whereas it was risker/possible of getting shut down elsewhere. The point is that the existing institutional structures are what paved the way for this research and investors' interest, yet, the old guard was NOT about to roll out the red carpet for this, so it took newcomers to debate them on it. I realize this is just one example, but the intersection of old and new is a big part of what defines this metro area, and it has its share of success stories such as this.
 

Equilibria

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An ignominious achievement for Boston. Renting in Boston is one of the biggest scams in the country, given the old stock, the unaffordable new stock, the fact that people can tour your apartment while still living there, the fact that landlords puts it on the previous and new tenants to clean the apartment between moves, the broker fee, and the outrageous first and last month deposit.

All of which is more pressing in terms of legislation than rent control. Let's get the worst excesses under control first.
 

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