Restrictions of the State House to the Public

FK4

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So awhile back I was looking through the Boston Public Library archive photos and looked at hundreds of images of 1960s protests on the Common... and/or on the steps of the State House. It made me realize - I had never realized before - that the entire front entrance and grounds of the State House is completely restricted now. I don't know when they closed it off, but it is one of the worst crimes out of all the architectural/political/landscape crap we complain about in this city. Suddenly I realized how tiny and pathetic every protest looks, because sign wavers are forced to contend with the little sidewalk on the street. It is utterly inexcusable: the restriction of the grounds of the political symbol of the entire state. I'm amazed that it even happened, and I also think that it makes our State House look worse - manicured and fenced in. I'm surprised that I've never heard of a proposal to reopen it. I'm sure there bullshit 'security issues' that would be raised if anyone ever said anything. Does anyone know when things changed after the 60s on this issue, and if there has ever been opposition to this incredibly undemocratic policy?


... tried to post a couple examples of protests, but couldnt get them to show up. Links here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/6310343504/in/set-72157628046173060/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/6309822457/in/set-72157628046173060/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_public_library/6309822549/in/set-72157628046173060/
 

Roxxma

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I was wondering the same thing when I was in Austin last year; I was able to walk all over the Texas Capitol Building grounds unimpeded. Only when I went into the building did I go through a security checkpoint.
 

Downburst

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I have a friend from West Virginia who was shocked that we have security measures in place. One's allowed to walk through the West Virginia Capitol grounds and building unimpeded. Really beautiful building.

Personally, I understand security for the building itself; I'm much more frustrated with the grounds being fenced off.
 

FK4

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^Exactly. Although Im pretty opposed to most security measures everywhere (think it's total bullshit and a stupid waste of money - if someone's gonna bomb a govt building and cant theyll pull what they used to do in Israel and blow up a bus or a cafe instead), having a checkpoint would be at least tolerable. You cant touch the grounds or the building. It's utter horseshit.
 

Arlington

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Massachusetts is fairly unusual in having its Capitol in its biggest city which also happens to be a national commercial center. I don't say that it should get a complete pass for shutting itself off, but we're no Charleston WV (or even Austin)

Direct comparables seem to be

Atlanta: They have a fence.
Denver: They don't have a fence.
Phoenix (I'll check back)
NYC: (how'd you rate City Hall?)
St Paul MN

Kinda small (not a great "multi-state trading center")
Nashville
Indianapolis
Columbus OH
Austin TX

And among big cities...
Seattle, Portland, SF, LA, Dallas, Houston, St Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, Cinci, Cleveland, NYC, Philly, Baltimore, Charlotte, Miami, which might be our urban rivals in some way, are all capitol free.
 

ErnieAdams

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You can walk right up to the State House in Providence and the Capitol in Hartford, though on most approaches you'll be doing so through their vast parking lots. Providence is even expanding their State House parking, to the unending chagrin of the poor souls trying to connect the Smith Hill neighborhood to the river area. Link.

It's a silver lining here in Boston that they haven't just paved over the grounds altogether.
 

Padre Mike

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I remember being able to enter the State House via the tunnel area in the back and wander through all the hallways and Bulfinch rooms, even to the point of being able to go in and say Hi to the Gov. if I wanted. That was a long time ago though. The first closing-off volley happened when Kitty Dukakis oversaw the restoration of the grounds and of the cast iron fence around the property. Then they restored the park out back which used to be a parking lot, as well as the Bulfinch column and eagle (which used to sit on the crest of Beacon Hill before the rear extension was built. Then they added underground parking, closed off a courtyard within as a meeting venue, and erected the various first-responders' memorials out back. But 9-11 changed everything as they added security around the perimeter and locked out the public, except for guided tours. Sad.
 

Lisbon

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I am in agreement that the grounds should be re-opened. It seems like such a waste of such a beautiful and unique space that it should sit empty most of the time. I'm sure the neighbors love it as it is now.
 

Matthew

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The State House has the tiniest sidewalks around it, especially by Bowdoin Street.

Really tells you what the priorities are.
 

tangent

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But 9-11 changed everything as they added security around the perimeter and locked out the public, except for guided tours. Sad.
I went in 2008/9 and just went through security and walked around after dropping off something off for a state rep. Gov. Office has a guard outside, but otherwise all we were talking about is a metal detector checkpoint. I didn't have an appointment or anything, I don't recall if I had to state my business there or anything like that... So that part at least didn't seem bad.

But yes the closing of the front steps is clearly to dissuade protest photo ops
 

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