Boston’s a city dear to my heart. I grew up just a couple of hours south, in Connecticut, a small state that straddles New York and New England; the best of both worlds. Boston, with its dozens of universities, is one of the best cities to earn your diploma, and your beer license in… and then on to New York for the soul-crushing experience of life in the real world.
Quincy Market, Paul Revere’s ride and the Freedom Trail, the JFK Library and the Aquarium were the big sights back then, but Beantown (it’s nickname), has come a long way. Those are all sights worth seeing, for sure, but Boston’s got a funky, new groove with a collection of spots to take in the green, and spend a bit of it, too.
The Rose Kennedy Greenway is perfect for a morning run to get acclimated with the city. It’s a 1.5 mile stretch of parks and public spaces, which includes the Charles River, opened four years ago as part of the 15 year Big Dig project. That’s right. 15 years! The Big Dig was a major construction project designed to create a smoother flow of traffic on the city’s main artery, Interstate 93, by putting it underground. It also sought to re-connect the waterfront and Boston’s North End (Little Italy) with the rest of the city. For road warriors, the city turned into urban warfare. Their reward? The Rose Kennedy Greenway, named after the Kennedy family matriarch.
The Massachusetts Horticultural Society designed the Greenway Gardens, which cover six acres and public art populates open spaces.
After taking in the scenery, it’s time to hit Boston’s gentrified South End. When I was in school, it had an artsy, off-beat feel to it, but was also where most students went looking for cheap rent. Now, it’s even more creative, and hosts the SoWa (South of Market) art and design market. Every Sunday, a changing group of artists, designers, chef and farmers hawk their goods, from gourmet food trucks, to clothing, jewellery, house wares, and produce. The market is sensory overload – in a good way.
What the market does best, is show off the innovative, entrepreneurial spirit of the city’s inhabitants. Emily Benson rolls up every week with her Fashion Truck, a mobile shop of curated clothing and accessories in a van turned boutique.
Two years ago, with a passion for fashion and visual merchandising, Emily considered pursuing a graduate degree. Instead, she took inspiration from the popular food truck trend and put her retail experience to use, fitting a van with dressing rooms, displays and carefully selected merchandise. Nothing she sells is mass-produced.
The Fashion Truck relocates to other areas the rest of the week, and hosts personalised shopping parties. The two-hour event takes place in a driveway, with the van door flung open, and refreshments all around.
SoWa also hosts a mobile vintage shop. From a 1954 Bellwood trailer, “Punky” sells her vintage clothing, jewellery and accessories.
Sure, there’s lots more to see in Boston. But if you’ve ticked the guidebook list, or fancy an alternative tour, make sure you include a Sunday visit to the church of SoWa and clear your head alongside the Charles.