Sidewalk Superintendent Series: The Seaport

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(An irregular series on public space. Downtown Crossing covered here.)

I’ve heard several of Boston’s ‘great and good’ refer to the Seaport District as a success. I beg to differ.

Press the arrow on the slide show below and take a look at the slide show of the district that we took in mid-December 2009 between 12:30 and 1 PM.

What’s your reaction? My first one was to ask the photographer (Pioneer’s own, redoubtable Peter Begley) if he deliberately left people out of the shots. He said he only delayed a single shot to let one person clear the frame, everything else is candid.

My second reaction was: where is everybody? I know its December, but its lunchtime on a weekday, and there’s no one there. The T station was desolate, as were most of the sidewalks.

As you look at the pictures, you see plenty of parked cars and public infrastructure, but very little life and almost no reason to go there if you don’t have to.

I know that there are many pieces of this puzzle yet to be put in place (like Fan Pier and perhaps the new ‘Innovation District’ initiative) and our economic situation has delayed or stopped some of the planned commercial real estate development.

But it feels like we can’t have an adult conversation about this – the Seaport is declared a success, don’t question it.

I don’t have the answers but no one seems to want to ask the hard questions. Instead we’ve got the big institutional players like the BRA and Convention Center setting the agenda once more. What we don’t have is a Seaport that works and attracts people, not just public subsidies.