Walking in the City

I like walking. A lot. I could walk for hours in the city or somewhere out in the woods. Sunday was a fine day for walking. I spent the breezy summer day walking around the city. We took the red line to Broadway, then walked across the bridge, over railroad tracks and the Fort Point Channel and then under the massive concrete structure that is I-93 to the SoWa Open Market in the South End. This was my first time visiting the market.  There’s the outdoor section where they set up tents and sell bread, produce, flowers, clothes, jewelery, art, and then there’s SoWa Vintage Market, the indoor market. I managed to successfully barter, and paid $15 for a $20 priced funky antique ashtray. (Most likely the guy paid $3 for it, but still I felt like a tiny victory. Sometimes tiny victories is what we can hold on to, but I digress…)

After we were done with the market, we walked back on Broadway. Then followed the signs for the Fort Point Channel HarborWalk. I never realized that the channel comes all the way to Broadway. We walked along the street where the Gillette World Shaving Headquarters sprawls. It was deserted. On the other side there were numerous railroad tracks. Then we came to the one end of the Fort Point Channel HarborWalk. Right next to the railroad tracks and the channel there’s the Rolling Bridge Park, which features a piece of the Old Colony Railroad Bridge. There are several informational boards mentioning the history of the place, but in summary this used to be a railroad and boat hub for transporting goods. The bridges are now gone, making way for the Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T)

This image shows the old/new juxtaposition. The era of the bridge is gone, the era of the CA/T ventilation building is here. It’s also interesting to see in the maps how much the harborline has changed, how much open water has been filled to build roadways, houses, factories.

The water in the channel wasn’t clear, but at least it was free of debris and trash. However it was full of white jellyfish, who I guess made their way up from the harbor. I don’t like jellyfish. I hate how it feels when you brush against them while you swim, they’re slimy and soft.

We then started walking on the harborwalk along the channel towards Summer Street. This is the view of the channel from the park looking southeast, towards the harbor:

I think this piece of the harborwalk was completed quite recently. They have installed benches and nice lighting fixtures along the walk. The peace of the place is interrupted by the constant humming of the Gillette World Shaving Headquarters, now owned by P&G. Nevertheless, it is an iconic Boston image and brand. At some point I noticed a water discharge in the channel coming from the direction of the Gillette plant. It was pretty fierce and thought it might be a stream.

Later along the walk there was an informational sign explaining that the plant intakes seawater from the channel and it is used to cool down the manufacturing equipment. The seawater is then discharged into the channel, slightly warmer but otherwise uncontaminated. Further down the walk you can see the pumping station, a brick small building. Apparently this cooling method has been in use since the 1920s. Next to the pumping station there is also another informational sign showing how the tunnel, which was part of the Big Dig and CA/T was built under the Fort Point Channel. You can sight the vent buildings on either side and visualize the alignment of the tunnel. The photographs taken during the construction of the Big Dog show a huge construction site; now your can see a park. Much better.

One of the most delightful discoveries for me was this thing, which at first sight thought it looked like a vuvuzela on steroids (yes, it is World Cup season afterall). I later saw that it is actually a listening device, but the only thing I could listen was a constant humming.

And then we came to the end of the new. It was great to discover this new piece of the harborwalk. The walk at this point goes under a building and connects to Summer Street. We took a left on Summer Street, then a right on Atlantic Avenue and walked along the Rose Kennedy Greenway, which of course is much better than having an elevated interstate going through a city. The new thing for me on the Greenway were these three funky misting devices that look like robots, flashing lights and all. The three WALL-Es must be connected to some kind of a sensor, because when we walked by them they started flashing their lights and let out a misty cloud. Fun, fun, fun.

Finally we made it to the North End. Gosh, this place is so busy and loud, not really the best place to go for a relaxing dinner after a day of walking and standing. I never particularly liked the North End. I like Columbus Park, but Hanover Street is just unbearable. I wanted to get pizza, so after some time that felt like years, we decided to go to Antico Forno. The food was good, my drink was awful. It was supposed to be sangria, it tasted more like pineapple  juice. Of course I should have known better than to order sangria at an italian restaurant, but thought it would a refreshing summer drink. Yes, the ice cubes were adequately refreshing. We then had gelato for dessert, which was just OK.

And then there was more walking. Back to South Station to take the T. Because after all it was a nice night. It is also nice to live in a city as compact and walkable as Boston. With still many things to explore, I’m sure. So there, take advantage of it, go out, walk and explore.