We came to Boylston Street Boston in January 2011 on our honeymoon. We stayed in the fabulous Lennox hotel and stayed for two days wandering the streets of Boston. It was a short walk from our hotel up the street to the Boston Common and because a snow storm had not long before hit the east coast of the USA, there was snow everywhere and the Frog Pond in the common had frozen over and it was now a crowded ice-skating rink. Foolishly we both decided we were still young enough to ice skate…only one of us was correct in our decision making. On our second day we decided to walk the Freedom trail and we made it to Paul Revere’s house before turning back towards the centre of town.
Just over the road from our hotel then was the Atlantic Fish Company restaurant where had we had dinner on the second night of our stay. Our memory was that the seafood was fantastic and since that time we have tried to recreate the Chowder that we tasted that night. I remember that our friendly waiter was quite taken with the fact that we were from our Australia, he himself did not have a passport and had no intention of travelling overseas. What was the point when there was so much to see in his own country?!
We returned to Boston in November of 2019 and although we didn’t stay at the Lennox, we strolled down to Boylston Street intending to make a booking for that evening at the Atlantic Fish Company Restaurant. Our luck was out; the restaurant’s reputation must have spread over the years as there was no table available for us. Gloomily we stood around outside bemoaning our loss of a great meal when I noticed the small memorial on the edge of the footpath.
Although we had heard of and mourned with the citizens of Boston the terrible tragedy of the bombing of innocent citizens watching the end of the Boston marathon on April 15, 2013, we had not realised it had occurred outside our all time favourite seafood restaurant, two years and three months after our wonderful visit to Boston. The details of the memorials are as follows.
“One representing 8-year-old Boston resident Martin Richard was taken from Franklin Park in his family’s Dorchester neighborhood. Another that is fused to it honors 23-year-old Boston University graduate student Lingzi Lu and was donated by her school. Around the base of the two pillars is an inscription etched in bronze: “Let us climb, now, the road to hope.” And the third pillar for 29-year-old Medford native Krystle Campbell comes from Spectacle Island in Boston Harbor. Its inscription reads: “All we have lost is brightly lost.” (https://www.wbur.org/news/2019/08/19/)
When we returned to Boylston Street in 2019, one of the things we realised was that we had few memories of the rest of street apart from the Lennox Hotel and the seafood restaurant. Apart from not knowing that the Boston Marathon finish line was just before the Old South Church, we had no memories of this beautiful old church itself, built in the Gothic Revival style in 1873. It is home to one of the oldest religious communities in the country having formed in 1669 and famous members of the congregation included founding fathers Samuel Adams and Ben Franklin. When I went to the front door of the church in 2019, the sign to the right summarised the congregation’s philosophy.
The other impressive site on Boylston Street that hadn’t found space in our limited memories was Copley Square. Back in the early 19th century, this square was called Art Square and was clearly designed to be the centre of culture for Boston by the citizens of Back Bay of the time. By 2019 some of the older buildings have gone but those that are left or replacing earlier ones are spectacular. The most eye-catching building is Trinity Church, built in 1773. Perhaps the photo below is not the best image of this imposing church but it illustrates what happens when you design a modern building around a landmark like this which actually promotes the image of its older neighbour. This reflective glass building is the John Hancock Tower built in 1976.
We couldn’t visit this Church as it had been booked for a wedding but the church officials allowed me to take a photo of the sign that greeted the wedding guests as they came in through the Trinity Church door.
Over our days in Boston we became fairly familiar with its heritage of citizens fighting for their right to rule themselves, free from the coercion of external forces like the British Empire. This demand for civil rights was also played out in second half of the 19th century when Boston became a city that enabled escaped negro slaves to obtain refuge and freedom from being sent home to Confederate landowners. So it was no surprise that when we entered Boylston Street, our ears were assaulted by contemporary demands for freedom from Government oppression that they believed undermined the human rights of the citizens of Boston.