North America Part 5: Boston

And so it was, after a four hour trip from New York to Boston on a coach with questionable suspension, we arrived in Boston for our final couple of days.

Luckily our very good friends moved to Boston last year and are living the dream in Cambridge which is technically a city in its own right and is where you can find a well-known place called Harvard. It’s a gorgeous area, full of huge, proud wooden houses and brick buildings. Hanging out with friends made for a very chilled end to our trip and I was left with two overarching impressions of Boston.

It felt like home, without being home. There is something about Boston that is really familiar to a European, I think. It’s something about the human scale of buildings, open spaces and squares, public transport system and walkability. Sometimes America can feel like a series of experiences connected by car journeys; our few days in Boston weren’t like that at all.

Spring on an everyday Boston street.
I’m a sucker for neighbourhood signage.
Part of Harvard's campus.
Part of Harvard’s campus full of interesting shapes and textures.
We found little signs of life everywhere. Who needs a postbox? Why not make it a poem box instead. I would love to wake up every day and open this.
We found little signs of life everywhere. Who needs a postbox? Why not make it a poem box instead. I would love to wake up every day and open this.
Hopping on the T.
Hopping on the T.

It’s so cultural. We went to the Megacities Asia exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The MFA is amazing. It’s gigantic and full of fascinating shows. We four geographers were particularly interested in the Megacities Asia exhibition because the exhibits were artists’ representations and imaginations of the megacities they call home. When we strolled through the Harvard campus, there was a piece of art on the lawn about violence.

More than that though, Boston icons such as Fenway Park are really fun to visit, and feel like part of the beating heart of the city rather than a tourist destination unloved by locals.

A team of people were collecting hand drawn business cards at a local pub.
A team of people were collecting hand drawn business cards from craftspeople at a local pub.
We got caught up in a protest outside the Boston Museum of Fine Art!
We got caught up in a protest outside the Boston Museum of Fine Art!
A collection of eclectic buildings on the Massachusetts Institution of Technology campus.
A collection of eclectic buildings on the Massachusetts Institution of Technology campus.
Exhibition on Harvard's campus about violence.
Exhibition on Harvard’s campus about violence and respect.
Red chairs of Fenway Park.
Red chairs of Fenway Park.

In five posts I have summarised a whistlestop tour of north-east America and Canada. What a trip. I can’t get enough of North America and its unwavering opportunity for adventure. I hope you’ve enjoyed reliving it with me!

Now to get back to the real business… Hint hint…


If you are interested, I just wanted to share with you these words compiled by Hema Upadhyay who was one of the featured artists at the Megacities Asia exhibition at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts with her piece “Build me a nest so I can rest” (2015). As I’ve mentioned countless times before I’m an urbanist by day and these words were enormously memorable. They are snippets of urban conversation woven together to form a commentary on city life.

” They will never be the same again because you just cannot be the same once you leave behind who and what you are, you just cannot be the same. How often I have lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home. What you end up remembering isn’t always the same as what you have witnessed. I don’t have a photograph, but you can have my footprints. They’re upstairs in my socks. How sad and bad and mad it was – but then, how it was sweet. Sometimes loneliness makes the loudest noise. Libraries are reservoirs of grace, strength and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark… In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed. Go spend time wit the aspen trees. They’ll tell you how it works. They’ll tell you to look to your roots for energy. They’ll tell you there’s warmth below the surface. Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of a cancer cell. If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies. For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home. Like a man who has been dying for many days, a man in your city is numb to the stench. You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours. “

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