Friday, September 4, 2009

Being a tourist in your own town . . . keeps home new

Many years ago I ran a bed and breakfast in Brookline Mass. called The William Wood House. The name came from an old map we found in the town hall that showed the plot lines of the streets of Brookline and there at 71 Perry Street was the name William Wood. It turns out he was an architect (Am I confabulating? It's been too long and perhaps fact and fiction have blurred.) or a builder and his name was on the plot along with the footprint of the house as it appeared in the late nineteenth century. As the proprietor of a bed and breakfast, I had lots of tourist information to share with my guests who came to me from all over the world. One of my favorite moments in running this little (we only had three guest rooms) guest house was to eavesdrop from the kitchen as these travelers got to know each other over my apple-infused Jiffy muffins and coffee. What began as polite "please pass the cream," soon warmed into lively bursts of laughter as the volume of their voices rose into a more friendly pitch. The first thing I did after selling the house was to take myself on a ride around historic Boston on the Trolley Tour. I wanted to see the city for the first time the way my guests had seen it. I learned that the fences in Charlestown that surround Bunker Hill Monument had been melted down cannons, and lots of other facts I had never known before. Just about a year ago I went on one of the Duck Tours and learned some more Boston trivia.

Yesterday I went to the CambridgeSide Galleria to board a genuine Riverboat to glide along the Charles River and learn more facts about Boston: membership in community boating is under $20 a year; entrance to the Magazine Beach municipal swimming pool is only 5 cents; the enormous Genzyme building has only 100 employees; 30 percent of the population of Boston is students; Mass General Hospital is the first hospital in the U.S. that used anesthetics for surgery; the B.U. bridge has the rare distinction of being one of the few bridges in the country over which planes pass over cars which pass over trains which pass over boats; the dome of the State House was painted black during World War II; the statue of John Harvard in Harvard Yard bears no resemblance to John Harvard the man who founded the college; and assorted other entertaining tidbits that I've forgotten because I couldn't find a pen in my purse to write everything down on my little note pad. Aside from the ongoing fact-o-logue, what I really enjoyed was the warm sun on my face, the wind as it tossed around the saris of my fellow passengers and the new perspectives of old places. Buildings viewed from the boat appeared more sculptural to me as I enjoyed how the play of light and shadow highlighted their forms in a way I can't notice while driving.

On the way back to the little cove of the CambridgeSide Galleria landing, our guide pointed out a totem style sculpture that celebrates the diversity of the residents of Cambridge. I'd never heard of this unique public art, nor had I ever seen it on previous visits to the mall, but now I know about it and you do, too. The artist's name "Tyler" appears in one of the bronze cast plates at the bottom of the piece. If you click on the images, you'll see lots more detail. Enjoy.

No comments:

Post a Comment