A New Perspective on a Well-Worn Path

While growing up in the suburbs surrounding Boston, I learned most of what I knew about the city (major landmarks, the Red Sox Yankees rival, the best Mom-and-Pop pastry place in the North End for a cannoli) from the frequent day trips I made with my family. The other half I discovered within the pages of a high school history book.

However, it wasn’t until I was forced to figure out the T system during my freshman year at Boston College that I truly began to look at Boston’s unique buildings and bustling hordes of people and understand just how much of the city I had never before known. I found myself learning best by getting lost among the maze of cobblestone streets and public alleyways.

The following are a few snapshots of a walk I used to take with my siblings and parents, from the Fanueil Hall area to Copley Place. Today, though, these photos come from a place of wonder and awe, as I took each one of a scene or location in Boston that I had never before stopped to notice and appreciate.

Fifteen minutes before my work day starts, I sprint to Quincy Market for a quick breakfast to-go. Eight dollars and one sesame bagel with cream cheese later, I walk the short distance to 53 State Street with 5 minutes to spare.

View from the 37th floor of 53 State St.

Today, the spectacular view out of my office window in Government Center is preventing me from achieving my desired level of productivity. Unfortunately, I only have two hours until I must leave this spot and head back to campus for my Monday afternoon class.

This building, despite its beautiful pillars and roman-style architecture, is one that I have never noticed before today. I don’t stay to discover more about it, as I instead decide to walk around my favorite neighborhood, Beacon Hill, before returning to campus.

This VW Bug’s cherry color contrasting against the blue-gray paneling of this home on a hill was such a welcome sight, as I all-too-often view a sea of the same car color and model in this neighborhood.

I’m always delighted by discovering new wrought-iron door detail, lush gardens, and incognito sitting spots tucked discreetly into the neighborhood of tightly-packed houses.

My favorite style of city buildings are old brick apartments cloaked in thick green ivy. The Beacon Hill neighborhood features Federal-style and Victorian brick row houses perched atop a number of steep hills. If a viewer looks closely, they can spot the odd copper accent or rare purple window in some of these Boston Brownstones. These are the remnants of old architectural elements — materials no longer used in construction but have long-endured for centuries since the buildings were first built.

Despite the homes boasting similar brick facades, I notice that each door in this neighborhood is different. They sport vastly different colors, fonts, detailing and brass knockers. The most common door knockers I see are fashioned to look like lion and hog heads.

Though I have been to Beacon Hill many times before, I never noticed these two houses, as they are located on a street that I only just discovered today. Their colors and window boxes remind me of European-style cottages (France on the left and Germany on the right). I missed these kinds of unexpected surprises when I was living in New York this summer, as I feel as though Manhattan lacks the kind of intrigue that these kinds of Boston neighborhoods provide.

When I pass the Boston Common and Copley plaza, I think of the history lessons over the course of my schooling years which told of these sites as vast grazing pastures provided to Bostonians for raising livestock. It’s astounding how much a skyline can change in a matter of centuries, and I wonder what Boston will look like in just ten years’ time (and 20 years, and 30 years…).

I love the variety displayed in the architecture around Newbury Street and Copley Place. The grid-like pattern of the windows only a short distance away from an old stone church and just out of view of the glossy John Hancock building makes this city so unique.

After class and a trip to the gym, I’ve collapsed onto my picnic table outside my mod. It’s been a long day, and the above photo is a perfect representation of my blurry eyes and tired mind. Back “home” at the Mods, I reflect on my city stroll and decide for certain that I’d like to live and work in Boston after graduation.

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