Changing City

Seeing various Facebook posts about a new tower that may go up despite its possibly shadowing Boston Common reminds me of a few things as a normal citizen walking around the city. The Millenium tower has the biggest of the big going at it. Hardcore money and all those unseen powers going up against the biggest of the powers normal people feel like we can touch. Historical Sites, the Common, William Francis Galvin. (I mean you won't meet him everyday but probably if you really felt like it you could find a way to shake his hand.)

I was walking by the Prudential, where there are sprinklers near to where the Christian Science Center and the reflecting pool was. Was... WAS

That's right it's gone already.

A place that was nice to go in the day time as a child and was somewhat romantic to bring someone at night.
It wasn't a park, it didn't qualify as historic I guess. And it probably costed a ton of money to maintain versus the tons upon tons that market forces have made that particular plot of land to be worth.

Burt more significant to the Boston City kid is that reflecting pool, whoever paid for it, represented something nice about the city that THEY built. the THEYS that have the money and can afford to build such shiny shimmering nice things that we merely pass through.

Boston Common is public... so it belongs to US in some sense, but it also belongs to the tourists and the government and another all powerful and rich THEY that exists in the mind of a child.

If they can't even win against these other unseen forces. Corporations, Market Forces, Trends, Economic... whatever it is. If even the gods of our childhood can crumble so easily so that historical sites can be overshadowed or even that such a project would even be considered... then what chance does Chinatown really have?

I never thought anything bad about One Greenway. They built that tower in a place where there was ugliness, nothing.

But I noticed on a car ride in that you can't even see the Welcome to Chinatown on top of the On Leong building anymore. It isn;t in the shade... but it is blocked. Not as bad as the On Leong building's twin which was simply plowed through by a highway that also gutted the historic Chinatown neighborhood at the time.

But basically, it's not JUST Chinatown.

I think back to a Chinese Media source interviewing Councilor Bill Linehan at Michelle Wu's Chinese New Year at City Hall event. The first ever...

The reporter asked, "What do you think about how Chinatown is changing-"

To which he responded, cutting her off, "BOSTON is changing."

And it is true.

And there is good and bad about it.

After all, quaint city buildings of our past also have lead in the pipes. And some of the buildings are not so pretty to begin with.

But if even the PRETTY building and places can be torn down to bring about the towering residential areas that look like aliens simply dropped down in INK BLOCKS on top of us from the sky so that the wealthy can pay top dollar to live in these strange structures (I guess the rest of the city looks pretty FROM those windows if those buildings are eyesores....Then again what chance does Chinatown have?

Perhaps it will become a group of quaint streets hidden behind these towers like a magical secret little neighborhood that tourists have to find and that residents get to actually live in through Section 8 housing. I mean that's how those old age buildings feel. You are downtown and then you go into an elevator and there are old Taishanese people playing chess with wooden boards and bottle caps. (Chinese Chess is played with characters and the bored is lines not checkered squares so it's easy to just draw.)

But really how long can that last.. and indeed, should it?

Most people say that Chinatown will stay... no question. The question is in what capacity... but if Boston Common can be overshadowed and Winthrop Square sold... you REALLY think that Chinatown will not go? Let's campaign and tell stories of Imagine Boston.. which was really more about "educating" the populous, the masses, the residents, about how hard it is to plan a city. But meanwhile the Millenium Tower inches closer into existence despite serious political powers being opposed to it.

But what is the other side of it? That we should preserve sections of the city that are historical the way Japan preserves the Gion district in Kyoto (our sister City in Japan.)?

But is that who we are? A city of people that preserve our culture? Or is our city and really our country more about wiping things out and bringing in the new? It seems like we preserve things that don't work and are ugly. But we also raze Scollay Square and bulldozed through Chinatown at one point to get rid of the red light neighborhood, which then moved to Chinatown, and bulldozing the other part of Chinatown was supposedly just something that had to be done to complete the highway.

But again... these old buildings... they would be cheaper to simply knock down than to fix the piping. And if Boston Common is not even sacred... then what is?

I was biking in Chinatown and stopped next to some French tourists who wondered at how dangerous it was to bike in Boston. Paris, a very well planned out City, which did its bulldozing of neighborhoods in Napoleon's time for the sake of Empire, dispatching armies, and defending against foreign invaders (on horseback and foot) is fairly safe to bike in I imagine.

There is much that the city MUST do to modernize. And yet we want to keep that historical flavor... of course of course of course. And these things are said over and over in speeches and ribbon cutting and openings of community centers and much is said of all the "great work" that he, she, it, org, or institution does... but when it comes down to it... Money talks, and the fate beautiful historical sites are in the hands of... well Smith's Invisible one.