A snow day in March. The Nor’easter that hit the east cost only dumped several inches of snow on Boston before becoming a wintry mix when I ventured out, camera in tow. The wind-whipped, freezing rain gradually turned to just plain old rain and made for a camera-soaking (good thing for weather-sealed equipment), and not exactly pleasant, afternoon stroll. It was a lot more fun being out during the snow day in February.
I manged to get a few decent shots, however. Unfortunately, the slush and soggy snow will freeze overnight.
But back to this storm. It was fun to be out in the height of the snowfall, walking around my neighborhood. The streets were basically deserted but for snowplows. Most shops, cafes and restaurants were closed. Very few people were out and about, except for kids sledding in Sparrow Park a block away from my house, and a few souls out walking dogs or just enjoying the blizzard.
I arrived about a half hour before the event was scheduled to start and found one of the last open perches on the benches ringing the monument on the hill looking toward the stage (down near the corner of Beacon and Charles). Not a bad place for photos, the monument was approximately in the middle of the huge crowd filling much of Boston Common.
The event started at 11AM and the march began around 1PM (the progression from cloudy morning to sunny afternoon can be seen in the two photos of the monument, above). Although the march through the Common, past the Public Garden and down Commonwealth Ave and back was short, the last marchers didn’t finish until about 4PM given the size of the crowd.
The tree at Boston’s Faneuil Hall was lit before Thanksgiving. I stopped by to watch the Holiday Tree light show on my way down to Christopher Columbus Park to photograph the holiday lights on the trellis. Here are a few shots, all hand-held, of the Fanueil Hall Holiday Tree during the light show, which sees the tree’s lights cycle through multiple variations in sync with holiday music. I’m particularly fond of the lighting and composition of the top photo, shot before the light show started.
Despite the very chilly evening the night before Thanksgiving, there were quite a few people out enjoying the display. Most folks were taking photos–primarily selfies with smartphones because of course. But there were also some serious photogs with tripod mounted DSLRs, including the photographer in the shot below. My photos here, btw, are all hand-held with my old Oly Pen m4/3 (which I now keep at work for just such excursions, while my Nikon DSLR and new Pen-F m4/3 sit waiting at home).
A reminder. Taken on Thanksgiving morning eight years ago. Gave this guy a couple bucks on my way to Starbucks as my holiday day was getting underway. Took this photo from across the street on the way back.
Have a happy, safe holiday. Be thankful for all you have.
And here are a few shots of the area around the Government Service Center, including the adjacent Edward Brooke Courthouse, designed in the late 1990s by the same firm that designed Boston City Hall more than thirty years earlier (now Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood).
I spent a sunny Sunday photographing the Government Service Center and a couple of surrounding buildings in Boston’s Government Center area. This post focuses on the Government Service Center. In part II, I’ll post some shots of the surrounding area.
Architect Paul Rudolph’s Government Service Center consists of two separate, but connected buildings: the Hurley Building and the Lindemann Mental Health Center. It’s the most misunderstood building in Boston. Many consider it (wrongly, IMHO) to be the ugliest building in Boston.
One of Rudolph’s masterpieces, Boston’s Government Services Center, with its distinctive “corduroy concrete,” ranks high among the best examples of Brutalist architecture in the United States (even eclipsing Boston City Hall). Designed and constructed a couple years after Rudolph’s Yale Art and Architecture Buildingtour de force, the Hurley/Lindemann building was never completed according to Rudolph’s original design and vision. Construction of this high rise portion was never realized.
Unfortunately, the Government Service Center has suffered from years of neglect. The northern corner of the building has long been fronted by a hideous chain-link fence enclosing a make shift parking lot in place of the landscaped park in the original design. Within the past five years, many external stairways and other means of access to terraces and other intriguing spaces have been blocked, closed off by (more, ugly) chain-link fences. This wikipedia photo gives you a glimpse of one such unique area, as does this Droid Hot Spot commercial from 6 years ago, posted below. I’ve kicked myself for years not photographing Rudolph’s Government Service Center when access to all the external spaces and stairways was still open (and when deterioration of the buildings was a bit less pronounced).
I’ve been defending Brutalist architecture for years, and attempting to convince fellow Bostonians of the importance and charms of Rudolph’s Government Services Center (typically to no avail). But, Brutalism is back, baby! Well, sorta. See this recent New York Times “Brutalism is Back” article, including:
Brutalism is undergoing something of a revival. Despite two generations of abuse (and perhaps a little because of it), an enthusiasm for Brutalist buildings beyond the febrile, narrow precincts of architecture criticism has begun to take hold. Preservationists clamor for their survival, historians laud their ethical origins and an independent public has found beauty in their rawness.
In recent years, appreciation for Rudolph’s work has rebounded, especially among young architects. His Yale building, after a fumbled reconstruction and decades of neglect, was magnificently restored in 2009. But his Government Service Center is now only a shadow of what he envisioned. The complex was conceived as a moving, celebratory place, but mistreatment has made it resemble a prison. Yards of wire fencing overzealously fence off walkway walls now deemed too low to protect pedestrians. Parked vehicles have eroded the surface of the beautiful plaza at Staniford and Merrimac.