Everyone’s Talking About the Weather

“Everyone’s talking about the weather,” runs a loose translation of an old German political poster, “except us.” The slogan was used to parody a period railroad ad that trumpeted the Deutsche Bahn’s storm-resistant resilience, but it also attempted a deeper point: that meaningful politics is serious business, above the fray of such trivial, provincial preoccupations […]

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Time Travel With Nick DeWolf

Penn Station, New York, 1958 Three years ago, people were still complaining that photo-sharing websites like Flickr were home mostly to “thousands of pieces of shit” — few good photos, endless amounts of clichéd snapshots that nobody really wants to see. Since then, of course, Flickr has proven its worth by attracting plenty of good, […]

Tunnel Vision: Subway Zoetrope

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/8207998[/vimeo] Bill Brand’s “Masstransiscipe” installation in New York’s subway I first noticed subway tunnel wall animations in Boston, where the long gaps between stations on the MBTA Red Line provides a captive audience. The animation, composed of dozens of stills that simulated movement as the train zoomed by, was an ad. The message: visit Vermont […]

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Life Under the Landing Gear

The approach to Hong Kong’s old Kai Tak Airport was notorious: planes that swooped down toward its runways passed so close to the rooftops of Kowloon City that they practically risked tangling their landing gear in laundry lines. Nearly thirty years ago, life on Neptune Road, hard by Logan Airport in East Boston, wasn’t quite […]

Moving on from Fort Point

The bridge where Summer Street crosses over A is literally the bowels of Fort Point, the shadowy bottom of a neighborhood where buildings reach different heights depending where they meet the grade of the street. In October, the underside of the bridge was covered in rainbow-colored, neon slinkys. Closer to the holiday season, it was […]

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Don’t Kill the Queen’s Pier

Queen’s Pier in 2006. Photo by David Wong It was bad enough when they tore it down — now there’s the question of where to rebuild it. After the storm that swept through Hong Kong when the government tore down the Central Star Ferry pier in 2007, making way for a land reclamation project that […]

Recession City

Anti-capitalist street art, SoHo, New York It’s a Saturday evening and the Boston subway is packed. The train is stalled on the platform at Downtown Crossing station, and the car has been filling up for nearly thirty minutes. Tensions are rising. One new arrival finds me slumped in my seat, impatient: “Aw, look at this!” […]

Cambridge, Temporarily

Kendall Square now… Kendall Square as it could be? One of the beautiful things about an academic planning exercise is that you can indulge in a little flight of fancy. A recent exercise at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design let people imagine a temporary urban intervention in one of Cambridge’s famous squares. A “square”, in […]

Lost Boston, Exposed

Boston is one of the most historic cities in the United States, but it’s managed to lose much more of its architectural past than it retains. Sacrificed to urban experiments from concrete piazzas to towers-in-the-park, generations of honeycombed alleys and densely-crammed pockets of housing have largely disappeared from the city center, their former presence registered […]

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Boston Beyond the Souvenir Stands

I’ve always had a certain fondness for Boston. It was the first truly large city I visited, the first place that was effortlessly cosmopolitan, the first place that buzzed in an important-seeming way that was absent in the isolated and suburban city where I grew up. I was properly obsessed with it. I visited about […]

Ground Texture

Hanover Street in the North End Water meter on a North End sidestreet Parking lot on Washington Street

Posted in: United States by Christopher DeWolf Comments Off on Ground Texture

Coke Machine Glow

Chinatown was probably the oddest part of central Boston, mostly because it had yet to be scrubbed clean of its grit. This old Coke machine, randomly found in the middle of the sidewalk and stocked not with soft drinks but with Miller Lite and Budweiser, is a prime example.

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Public Fire Alarms

Over the weekend, as he ate a slice of pecan pie, my friend Sam teased me for dwelling so much on the minutiae of urban life. “Next you’re going to be writing about doorknobs,” he said, “and you’ll have photos of all the doorknobs in Mile End.” Not yet. Today, I’m looking at the public […]

On the Green Line

The Green Line is Boston’s streetcar-subway combo, running above ground on Commonwealth Ave., Beacon St. and Huntington Ave. west of Massachusetts Ave. and below ground in the city centre.

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