Posts Tagged ‘Architecture’

Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts: Circle the City

Bostonians enjoyed easy access for walking, biking, skating, playing and more on the outbound lanes of Huntington Avenue on Sunday, July 14th thanks to the Circle the City Open Streets program.  Thanks to Walk Boston, I was able to participate in the event reviving my Boston By Foot Avenue of the Arts walking tour.  A small but curious group joined me on the 90 minute walk from the Christian Science Center to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

After the tour, I met up with my wife and kids to take in more of the activities.  My son Peter was drawn to the Super Soccer Stars activities at Northeastern University and happily played soccer with the coaches and rotating cast of children for about three hours.  I had little trouble convincing my daughter Kay to be my copilot on a bike ride up and down the Avenue of the Arts.  We enjoyed the Boston Cyclist Union’s demonstration cycle tracks, listened to a drum circle, watched dancers, heard a loud synthpop duo, rode alongside marching bands, and got high fives from passersby.

Despite scorching hot weather, it was a fun day out for all the family and something I’d love to see more often.  Before I get to the photos, I have two quick, mild criticisms.  First, the map and program didn’t seem to have enough helpful detail about the types of activities going on or even a good sense of where to find some things (for example, I think my tour may have had more people if they had a better sense of what it was and where to meet, but I also had this feeling looking for other activities).  Second, the stretch of Huntington from Ruggles to Brigham Circle felt like the activity tents were spaced far apart.  It’s also a less shady part of the road, unfortunately.  It didn’t seem too welcoming to pedestrian activity and I didn’t see many people walking here.  Maybe the activities should be grouped together more closely to lend it a better street festival vibe?

 

Cross-posted at my Boston Bike Commuter blog.

July 14th: Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts

This Sunday, July 14, 2013, Circle the City and The Fenway Alliance present Open Streets on the Avenue of the Arts.  From 11am – 4pm, Huntington Avenue will be closed to motor vehicles and open for fitness, yoga, bikes, dance, arts, kids activities, and walking tours AND MUCH MORE.

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I’m particularly excited about this event because thanks to Walk Boston I’ve been invited to reprise my Boston By Foot walking tour of the Avenue of the Arts.  Imagine a walking tour where we can step safely out into the street to take in new perspectives on the architecture and history of the institutions that line the avenue!  And the best part is that the tour is free.  If you are interested in learning more about the cultural institutions on Huntington Avenue, this is the day to do it.

As we walk along this cultural corridor we’ll explore the history of Huntington Avenue and learn about:

  • landmarks created by two of the most remarkable women in Boston’s history: Mary Baker Eddy and Isabella Stewart Gardner
  • not one but two acoustically perfect concert halls
  • not one but two historical figures named Eben
  • the oldest artificial ice sporting arena in the world
  • Boston’s lost opera house
  • the many innovations and contributions of the YMCA
  • the site of the first World Series game
  • expansion and development at Northeastern University, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • and much, much more

Meet at the Christian Science Center plaza on Massachusetts Avenue at 11 am for the 90 minute tour.  And leave time to make a day of it because there will be plenty more activities to enjoy on our Open Streets!

 

Boston’s South End: A Photo Collage

A photo collage of sites in Boston’s South End.

Learn more about these sites on the South End Walking Tour presented by Boston By Foot, this Sunday August 26th at 2pm.

Buy advance tickets for the tour online and meet us across from Back Bay Station on Dartmouth Street.

This Sunday: Boston By Foot South End Walking Tour

Come join a South End Walking Tour presented by Boston By Foot.

I will be one of the guides, but this is not just shameless self-promotion as the other five guides are a dream team of some of the best walking tour guides in Boston.  Come learn about one of the largest, most diverse, and dynamic neighborhoods in Boston.

Buy advance tickets for the tour online and meet us across from Back Bay Station on Dartmouth Street at 2 pm on Sunday August 26th.

Walking Tour of Davis Square in Somerville

I’ll be leading this Boston By Foot Tour of the Month of Davis Square in Somerville (which I also researched and co-wrote) on Sunday, July 29th from 2pm-3:30pm.  Admission is $15 per person, $5 for members (and you can become a member on the day of the tour).  No reservations needed, just show up a few minutes before 2 pm on Sunday at the plaza opposite Somerville Theatre.

October 30th: Avenue of the Arts – Boston By Foot Tour of the Month

Huntington Avenue photo courtesy of Yarian Gomez's photostream on Flickr

Come out this Sunday October 30th at 2pm for a guided walking tour of Boston’s Avenue of the Arts lead by Boston By Foot guides (including yours truly).  The tour begins in front of The Church of Christ, Scientist on Massachusetts Avenue and the cost is just $15/person.  If you become a Boston By Foot member admission is reduced to just $5 and you get lots of other benefits as well.

Have you ever wondered why so many cultural institutions dedicated to fine arts, music, education, religion, and sports are clustered in one area in Boston?  As we walk along this cultural corridor we’ll explore the history of Huntington Avenue and learn about:

  • landmarks created by two of the most remarkable women in Boston’s history: Mary Baker Eddy and Isabella Stewart Gardner
  • not one but two acoustically perfect concert halls
  • not one but two historical figures named Eben
  • the oldest artificial ice sporting arena in the world
  • Boston’s lost opera house
  • the many innovations and contributions of the YMCA
  • the site of the first World Series game
  • expansion and development at Northeastern University, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • and much, much more

I’m particularly proud of this tour because I originated the idea and collaborated on the research and manual writing.  So please come out and join us to learn more about this fascinating Boston district.

Huntington Avenue in 1920, courtesy of Boston Public Library's photostream on Flickr

Book Review: At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson

Author: Bill Bryson
Title: At Home: A Short History of Private Life
Publication Info: Books On Tape (2010), Audio CD
ISBN:  9780307707376

Books Read by the Same Author:

Summary/Review:

Bill Bryson travels through his English home and uses it as a launching point for this history of the uses of the rooms and the types of things one finds in each spot.  It’s something of a cluttered attic of a book (pun intended) with little bits of cultural history, material culture, architecture, and all sorts of odds and ends.  To be honest I listened to some of the audio discs out of order and didn’t realize it at first, so linearity is not important to this work.  While focusing on the broad topic of the home and private life, the focus of the book tends to stick with British and American history, and while some examples go back to Classical times most of the book is set in the past three centuries with the Victorian Era being Bryson’s favorite.  It’s a nice bit of compiled history told with Bryson’s usual wit and insight, although surprisingly his own voice is not as prevalent in this intimate book as it is in his other works.

Recommended books: How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand, The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on 1000 Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider and In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life by James Deetz
Rating: ***1/2

Boston By Boat

Boston By Foot is known for leading excellent walking tours of Boston’s architecture and history.  Now you learn about Boston’s architecture and built environments on a 90-minute cruise!  Teaming with the Boston Society of Architects and the Charles Riverboat Company, the Charles River Architecture Cruise offers a unique perspective on Boston and Cambridge.

I took the debut cruise yesterday morning on a beautiful late summer day and got enjoy a relaxing cruise and learn a lot about buildings and history along the river.  The cruise will be offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 am through October 17th (yours truly will be narrating on Columbus Day Weekend).  Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for members of Boston By Foot. Come on out and sail with Boston By Foot!

The slideshow below offers some highlights of what you can see from the boat.  No captions, you’ll have to come on the cruise to learn about what you see in these photographs.

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Photopost: Providence

Today I took my toddler son Peter on a day trip to Providence, RI.  The main appeal of the outing was for Peter to finally get a chance to ride the double-decker commuter rail trains but I’ve been wanting to explore Providence for some time.  Despite living a combined 27-years in the neighboring states of Connecticut and Massachusetts I’ve not given much attention to Rhode Island.  I’ve driven through Providence past the giant termite, I went to a basketball camp at Providence College 20 years ago when I was in high school, I’ve been to a couple of Providence Bruins games, and … and that’s about it.

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The Providence railroad station is centrally located right next to the Rhode Island State House.  For the smallest state, Rhode Island really has an enormous capitol complete with gleaming white marble, neoclassical facades, and a looming hilltop presence.  I didn’t have any destination in mind, just wanted to get out and  explore. Peter & I strolled through Waterplace Park an attractive urban development of recent vintage which apparently replaced railroad tracks that once covered the river.  Then we visited City Hall Park where Peter chased after many, many pigeons.

While I would be content to study the attractive architecture of Providence, Peter wanted a playground and not being able to find one, we made our way to the Providence Children’s Museum.  The museum is located in the Jewelery District which actually looked like a district of unoccupied industrial buildings which was a little creepy.  The area around the museum was friendly and the museum itself was great – smaller but also less intimidating than the Boston Children’s Museum.   On our way back to the railroad station we walked through another part of downtown.  It feels someone how more urban than Boston and very different architecturally.  I will have to return to explore more when my attention is not so focused on a toddler.

Boston By Foot Avenue of the Arts Tour

Huntington Avenue photo courtesy of Yarian Gomez's photostream on Flickr

Come out this Sunday July 25th at 2pm for a guided walking tour of Boston’s Avenue of the Arts lead by Boston By Foot guides (including yours truly).  The tour begins in front of The Church of Christ, Scientist on Massachusetts Avenue and the cost is just $15/person.  If you become a Boston By Foot member admission is reduced to just $5 and you get lots of other benefits as well.

Have you ever wondered why so many cultural institutions dedicated to fine arts, music, education, religion, and sports are clustered in one area in Boston?  As we walk along this cultural corridor we’ll explore the history of Huntington Avenue and learn about:

  • landmarks created by two of the most remarkable women in Boston’s history: Mary Baker Eddy and Isabella Stewart Gardner
  • not one but two acoustically perfect concert halls
  • not one but two historical figures named Eben
  • the oldest artificial ice sporting arena in the world
  • Boston’s lost opera house
  • the many innovations and contributions of the YMCA
  • the site of the first World Series game
  • expansion and development at Northeastern University, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
  • and much, much more

I’m particularly proud of this tour because I originated the idea and collaborated on the research and manual writing.  So please come out and join us to learn more about this fascinating Boston district.

Huntington Avenue in 1920, courtesy of Boston Public Library's photostream on Flickr

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