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Julie's Jolly Tour of Boston

(Reprint from News: July 22, 2001)

July 22, 2001


Early the next morning, Julie and I walked down to the nearby subway station and hopped on the "T" for a ride into Boston.  That's "T" as in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  Folks in Massachusetts like to abbreviate everything, such as cutting the "Massachusetts Turnpike" down to "Mass Pike."  Well, they've pared this one down too -- not to M.T.A., as you might think, but all the way down to just the "T."  That's it:  just the "T."


Here's the Kingston Trio and their humorous song, M.T.A.

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For the rest of that Sunday, Julie and I rode the "T" all around Boston as she showed me her wonderful city.  She even showed me the largest construction project in U.S. history, a massive tunnel complex known as the "Big Dig" that's being built under the Boston Harbor.  I had heard a lot about the Big Dig, especially since my company, Parsons Brinckerhoff, is one of the prime contractors working on it.  Mike Wallace and 60 Minutes broadcast an expose on the Big Dig a few years ago, but in fairness to PB, the project has been one big headache after another, similar to the kinds of projects I worked on for PB in Portland but on a massively larger scale. 


It was good to see that, despite the Big Dig, Boston hadn't changed much since the last time I visited back in '76.  With enough historical sites to satisfy even the most fanatical history buff, the city definitely has one foot in the past.  However, with 60 colleges and universities located here, the city is incredibly alive and energetic, and it's apparent that Boston has the other foot planted firmly in the future.  Boston has a reputation for being a little snooty, which may be true, but in the two days that I spent here it seemed like a pretty terrific place. 


One of the lighter moments of the day occurred as we sat outside Faneuil Hall and I read aloud from a Boston tour book about the correct way to pronounce the name of the hall.  Quoting from the book, I said, "The hall should never be pronounced 'Funnel' or -- horrors -- 'Fennel'"  Julie looked puzzled and said, "Whores?"  I laughed and said, "No, not 'whores' - 'horrors!'."  As we talked loudly about "horrors" and "whores," several passersby stared at us, causing us both to bust up with laughter.  That, I guess, tells you something about our sense of humor.


Late in the afternoon, we strolled by the Bull & Finch pub, known better as the setting for the T.V. show "Cheers."  Julie wasn't that interested, but I took a peek inside the pub.  I found it dark, noisy, and packed, so I didn't linger there too long.  Before I left, though, I struck up a conversation with the pub's doorman, a nice guy named Justin.  Upon learning that I was heading for Australia soon, Justin told me that he'd been there a few months earlier.  He gave me a few tips, then said, "And by the way, Australian women are less... um... reserved than American women," a comment which certainly piqued my curiosity. 


After a requisite pose and photo in front of the pub, Julie and I found a cheap-but-great Chinese restaurant in Beacon Hill and had a scrumptious dinner.  It was a terrific day, certainly one of the best of my trip so far, and Boston is still a really great city. 


Yep, coin flips or not, there could really only be one Boston.


Above left:  Julie's house in Boston.  That's her multi-colored Equal Exchange coffee van in the background with it's solar-powered electric coffee brewer.  Yep, that's my truck in the foreground.

Above center:  Riding the subway (known as the M.T.A., or just the "T") into downtown Boston.  The subway system in Boston works great.  If you come to Boston, don't drive and deal with those -- and I'm quoting here from my AAA book -- "aggressive" Boston drivers.  Just take the T.

Above right:  My tour guide, Julie, walking on the Freedom Trail in Boston.  This trail links many of the historic sites in Boston.  I just wish I had two weeks to spend here seeing everything.


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Above left:  The new and the old. 

Above center:  Downtown Boston from the top of the John Hancock Building.

Above right:  Commonwealth Avenue (or just Comm Ave., they shorten everything in Boston, including the Mass Pike).  This is a snooty section of the city and a place I could never afford to live.  There are a lot of beautiful women on Comm Ave, but they all look the same.



Above left:  Here's what Boston looked like in the 1700s.  The city used to be connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway.  Modern Boston is shown in the light blue shade.

Above center:  There are lots of interesting old gravestones in the Granary Burying Ground in the middle of downtown Boston, including those of Paul Revere, John Hancock, and the victims of the Boston Massacre.  To make mowing easier, though, they moved the gravestones several years ago and no one knows where anyone is actually buried anymore.

Above right:  Here's the gravestone of Mother Goose (a.k.a. Mary Goose, wife of Isaac Goose) who died in 1690.  Until I saw this gravestone, I didn't realize that there really was a Mother Goose.


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Above left:  Old glories.

Above center:  Boston is a photographer's paradise.  I shot over 250 pictures here in just a few hours.

Above right:  South Market near Fanueil Hall is pretty lively on a Sunday afternoon.   



Above left:  The "Bull and Finch" pub in Beacon Hill inspired the television show, "Cheers," which ran for 11 years starting in 1982.  Of course, this is the place "where everyone knows your name" (as long as your name is Norm). 

Above center:  Some dorky tourist.

Above right:  I went downstairs to the bar but nobody knew my name.  They shot the opening scene here, but the inside is a bit different... much darker, for one thing. 


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Above left:  The Union Oyster House opened in 1828 and is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in America.

Above center:  Here's the largest construction project in American history.  This is the Central Artery Project, known locally as "The Big Dig."  It's a huge hole that sucks up taxpayer dollars, and my company, Parsons Brinckerhoff, is one of the main contractors. 

Above right:  Here's our Big Dig (into the fried rice) at a restaurant in Beacon Hill.


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Above left:  The State House, where the "Boston Massacre" occurred, is dwarfed today by modern skyscrapers.

Above center:  The "T," heading back to Cambridge.

Above right:  Tower at Harvard University, established in 1636 and the oldest university in America. 



Above left:  A Harvard gate at sunset. 

Above center:  Memorable sign in a Harvard Square shop... for those sophisticated Harvard students, I guess.

Above right:  Julie and I taking the subway back home.  Thanks for the great tour, Jules!   



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