Boston - A pedestrians’ paradise!
Boston was once regarded as one of the loveliest cities in the US. Then, in the 1950s, the city built an urban freeway through the downtown area, cutting it off from the waterfront. A giant construction project called the Big Dig has restored the city’s original layout and infused Boston with new life
Downtown Boston: A group of Italian tourists follows a trail of red bricks set into the sidewalk. They pass Park Street Church, whose snow-white tower looks like a lavishly frosted wedding cake. A little further on, they come across the heraldic animals of the United Kingdom, a unicorn and a golden lion, decorating the gabled roof of the Old State House. A couple of teenagers gaze upward in wonder, their cameras clicking. “It’s just like Disneyland!,” one of them cries.
The difference is that everything here is real. Boston, the capital of the US state of Massachusetts, is one of a very few US cities to have so many historic places located so close together. Parts of the old town have even been declared a “national historic park.” The red bricks mark the famous Freedom Trail, a roughly four-kilometer-long path built in 1958 to connect the sites where Boston’s citizens fought for independence from England in the 18th century. Last year, roughly three million visitors walked the Freedom Trail, more than ever before.
But it’s not just history that draws tourists to Boston. A few years ago, one of the world’s biggest urban construction projects, informally known as the Big Dig, was completed, eliminating some of the city’s worst engineering blunders and infusing downtown Boston with new life.
“Boston stands for science, liberal thinking, Harvard, MIT, the Kennedys and for its historical past,” says Hubert Murray, the architect in charge of the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, as the Big Dig is officially known.
Freedom Trail, Institute of Contemporary Art and John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
A red line connects Boston’s historic buildings, which include the Old State House, the former seat of the British colonial government. Visitors are welcome to follow the Freedom Trail with or without joining a tour. Trail details are available from the three Visitor Centers.
Freedom Trail: Freedom Trail Foundation, Tel. +1-617/357 83 00. www.thefreedomtrail.org
Institute of Contemporary Art
The Seaport District is one of the neighborhoods that have blossomed since the Big Dig. It is also where the spectacular new building housing Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art can be found gracing the waterfront.
Institute of Contemporary Art: 100 Northern Avenue, Tel. +1-617/ 478 31 00. Open: Tue+Wed 10am-5pm, Thu-Fri 10am-9pm, Sat+Sun 10am-5pm. Admission: US$15 (reduced US$10-13). www.icaboston.org
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
“JFK” is arguably Boston’s most famous son. Ieoh Ming Pei’s monument to the 35th president of the United States of America is located a couple of kilometers southeast of the city center. The exhibition rooms and movie theaters bring the 1960s back to life.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum: Columbia Point, Tel. +1-617/514 16 00. Open: daily 9am-5pm. Admission: US$12 (reduced US$ 9-10). www.jfklibrary.org
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, The Liberty Hotel and Mandarin Oriental
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
Boston grande dame Isabella Stewart Gardner was also a patron of the arts. Her private collection comprises some 2500 works by African, American and European artists.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum: 280 The Fenway, Tel. +1-617/566 14 01. Open: Wed-Mon 11am-5pm, Thus 11am-9pm. Admission: US$ 15 (reduced US$5-12). www.gardnermuseum.org
The Liberty Hotel
Guests at Boston’s most unusual hotel stay the night in what used to be the Charles Street Jail. Photos of former inmates decorate the walls and breakfast is served in the cell block.
The Liberty Hotel: 215 Charles Street, Tel. +1-617/ 224 40 00. www.libertyhotel.com
One of Boston’s swishest hotels – and not just because it offers the height of luxury. The Asana restaurant serves authentic New England cuisine and mouthwatering desserts dreamed up by pâtissier Nelson Paz. Lovely spa.
Mandarin Oriental: 776 Boylston Street, Tel. +1-617/535 88 88. www.mandarinoriental.com
Fotos: LOOK-foto, mauritius images (2), Corbis (2), PR (2)