Posts Tagged ‘Boston’
This wonderfully researched and well-written history, explores the making of Boston by focusing on the social and environmental factors that shaped the city, its human ecology. There are five sections of the book:
1. Enclosing the Common – the effort of prosperous Bostonians to enclose Boston Common, changing it from a place of work (pasturing cows and digging up turf) to a place of recreation.
2. Constructing water – the contentious development of a public waterworks, a means by which reformers hoped to improve both the health and morality of the populace, but a process that also forever changed the role of municipal government.
3. Inventing the suburbs – people move from the city, seeking pastoral cities and escape taxation, but they also miss the public works that the city provides. Some suburbs are annexed by Boston (willingly or otherwise) while some become cities in their own right.
4. Making the harbor – the modern Boston Harbor is human-made not natural, and the processes of landmaking, dredging, damming, et al that modified it so much were a contentious issue in the 19th century when many mariners thought the harbor would be lost with natural water movement.
5. Recreating the wilderness – suburban green spaces such as the Middlesex Fells and the Blue Hills are created as a connection to the colonial forbears and the lost wilderness.
This book is a terrific means of grasping the process of urbanism for modern cities and a unique approach to the history of Boston. It pairs well with Walter Muir Whitehill’s classic Boston: A Topographical History.
“What made that agenda so contentious was that reformers wanted to expand the role of government to achieve it. Since government had never played a serious role in structuring how Bostonians interacted with their water supply, transferring responsibility for finding adequate water from the individual to the city seemed to some like a radical and potentially dangerous move. Instead, early experiments in municipal water like Boston’s would prove to be the leading edge of a wave of change in municipal government. As the century progressed, cities would expand their power to fund larger public works, often through borrowing, and they would pay the cost through general taxes rather than special assessments. Event the cost of smaller projects that did not require bond issues would increasingly be spread out among all residents of a city. Public water would encourage urban residents, in Boston and elsewhere, to expand their vision of the public good.” – p. 104
“The Fells and Blue Hills were designed to store information about colonial people and events and prompt visitors to recall the collected stories. The existence of such places implies a relationship of permanence, lest the memories disappear with the monument…” – p. 269
Recommended books: Boston: A Topographical History by Walter Muir Whitehill, A City So Grand: The Rise of an American Metropolis, Boston 1850-1900 by Stephen Puleo, Boston’s Back Bay by William Newman & Wilferd E. Holton and Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston by Nancy S. Seasholes
Author: Andrew Mayne
Title: The Monster in the Mist
Publication Info: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
I got this eBook as a special deal for Kindle on Amazon, not knowing much about it other than it was a mystery set in Boston in 1890 with a steampunk vibe. April Malone is a young woman whose mysterious job is to tend an office where no one works and take lessons on various esoteric topics. All of this is preparation for the arrival of the also mysterious man who just goes by the name Smith who emerges from behind a steel door one day and sets the pair on investigating several disappearances of people in Boston. Smith is reminiscent of The Doctor from Doctor Who (who also sometimes goes by the name Smith) and the relationship of April Malone and Smith owes a debt to Holmes & Watson, but it’s not entirely derivative. I was won over by the first part of this book, but less enamored with the latter half. This is because Smith goes off on his own adventure and while ultimately aided by April, I think the book lacks something when not seen from her perspective as well as the interesting chemistry between the two characters. This book is the first in a series of Chronological Man Adventures, and I hope that in future installments that two leads stay together.
Recommended books: The Technologists by Matthew Pearl, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, and The Night Inspector by Frederick Busch.
Marissa Nadler is a singer-songwriter from Boston, but I’d not heard of her before now. In fact, “Dying Breed” is not a new song, but one she released back in 2007. Luckily, German DJ Stefan Biniak is more up to date on Boston artists and has added the perfect groove to her vocals in this remix.
What musical discoveries have you made recently? Let me know in the comments.
Beer: The Long Thaw White IPA
Brewer: Harpoon Brewery
Source: 12 oz bottle
Rating: *** (7 of 10)
Comments: Pours out cloudy blonde with a medium head. The scent is grassy with hints of citrus. The taste of this beer is earthy followed by a hop explosion. This beer is smooth and drinkable and a worthy addition to the Harpoon lineup.
[cross-posted from my Boston Bike Commuter blog]
Wednesday is the deadline to help fix Cambridge Street by signing Fix Cambridge Street‘s community letter to MassDOT at http://tinyurl.com/CambridgeStreet.
Please also send an email to email@example.com with your own comments (mention ”Project File # 606376″).
My letter to MassDOT is below.
January 27, 2014
- Do not install a median fence.
- Reallocate excess space from roadway to bicyclists and pedestrians
- The new pedestrian crossing should use a standard red/yellow/green traffic signal
- Plant landscaping in the median between the Mansfield Crosswalk & Lincoln Street.
- Use permanent coloring to distinguish the sidewalk and cycletrack
Last night at the Parent Council at my son’s elementary school in Jamaica Plain, it was announced the Boston Public Schools are requesting that schools prepare for drastic budget cuts. It’s been reported that these cuts will be for as much as 20% of the current budget. The immediate effects of such cuts to my son’s school and to other schools in the city will be loss of staff, Playworks, learning interventions, the learning center, and even shortening the school day. Public schools are already making do with limited budgets while being assailed from all sides in political battles, so further cuts will have drastic consequences to providing quality innovative education to all children in the city. So far there has been coverage on Universal Hub (http://www.universalhub.com/2014/bps-schools-told-prepare-cuts) and social media, but the news has not been disseminated through traditional media.
If you live in Boston and value public education, please join me in the following steps:
- Attend a Boston School Committee meeting. The schedule is here: http://www.bostonpublicschools.org/Page/253
- Write a letter expressing your concern to BPS Superintendent McDonough (firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com) ,Mayor Marty Walsh (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the School Committee (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com). Feel free to copy other city leaders and local media.
- Share your thoughts on Twitter to https://twitter.com/bostonschools and https://twitter.com/marty_walsh. Use the hashtag #bospoli to draw attention to your tweet! And retweet others in our community).
- Share your thoughts on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VoteMartyWalsh?fref=ts and https://www.facebook.com/bostonschools?fref=ts
- Do whatever else you can to share this news with others, make your feelings known, and in general make a big noise to let the BPS know that we will not accept cuts to our schools.
Below is the content of the email sent to the Mayor and Superintendent. Please feel free to crib what you like for your own message. It does not have to long, or eloquent. Just write to make sure that your thoughts are heard.
Set in Boston in 1868, The Technologists follows the same historical mystery formula as previous works like The Dante Club and The Poe Shadow. This novel centers around the students of the first class of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with the fictional protagonists intermingling with historical figures like William Barton Rogers, Ellen Swallow Richards, and Louis Aggasiz (the latter is characterized as a cartoonish villain in the Harvard-MIT rivalry). Boston is threatened by mysterious technological attacks and the populace – already suspicious of the institute – threaten to close it down. It’s up to the young students to use their scientific skills to stop the madman and to save the reputation of their school. The historical details are nice, and the mystery is good enough. I didn’t see some of the twists in the plot coming, at least. The growing technological menace get ludicrous though and the characterization is weak. All in all, an entertaining page-turner of a historical mystery, but no great work of literature.
Beer: Merry Maker Gingerbread Stout
Brewer: Boston Beer Company
Rating: ** (6.8 of 10)
Comments: In a small tulip-glass, this beer pours out inky black with a tan finger-width head. The aroma is suitably Christmas-y with bread, ginger, and cinnamon. The flavor is full of spice and rich sweetness. The alcohol content is high so it left me buzzing. An interesting treat for the holidays but not an everyday beer.