Tom Menino’s funeral procession Monday will wind through the city on a route encompassing a wide range of his favorite places. That is appropriate because there is no part of the city left untouched by his life and legacy.
The procession’s journey will be defined by both geography and politics. When Menino entered office in 1993, friends teased him that they could drive to New Hampshire in less time than it took him to get home to his Hyde Park house in Readville. It was almost true.
The last procession will offer a chance for thousands along the route to say farewell to the mayor, in addition to the thousands who stood in line outside Faneuil Hall on a chilly and rainy Sunday. It is a well-deserved victory lap for the mayor, one that encapsulates much of what he valued and accomplished in his 20 years in office. The route was clearly put together with care.
The Parkman House, one of the landmarks the procession will pass, became a satellite office under Kevin H. White for Boston mayors. Ray Flynn used it mainly as a hideaway. But Menino lavishly remodeled it and probably put it to better use than his predecessors. There he hosted everything from formal dinners to Election Night powwows. Menino quickly discovered that it was also a convenient place to hold meetings away from the watchful eyes of City Hall reporters.
It became enough of a second home that, when convalescing from a bout of ill health in 2013, he actually lived there for a while. He went to pains to point out that he bought his own groceries during his stay, not wanting anyone to think the public was being put upon.
After a trip past the Public Garden (self-explanatory) he will pass Boston University. Or, more precisely, Kenmore Square. The renovation of Boston University’s neighborhood is another Menino success story. As the well-heeled denizens of Island Creek Oyster Bar or Eastern Standard can attest, it bears little resemblance to the college-kid hangout of decades ago.
And, of course, Boston University was the institution that made him professor Menino when he left office earlier this year. He had big plans for the Institute on Cities he cofounded there, and I hope that baton is picked up.
Dudley Square is on the route, as well it should be. During two decades in office he went from being virtually unknown to the population of Roxbury to a deeply admired figure there, and that relationship was a deep source of pride — and many votes — for him. He was thrilled that the long-stalled renovation of Dudley Square is finally happening, spurred by the development of the Ferdinand Building, recently renamed for Menino’s old friend and City Council colleague, Bruce Bolling.
Menino visited with children and gave away presents every Christmas season in Bowdoin-Geneva, which is also on the procession route. He was disheartened by regular suggestions that the neighborhood was downtrodden, considering it substantially improved from its old days.
Moving closer to his home, the procession hits Roslindale Square, home of a wildly successful Main Streets program. It was a model of what the program was supposed to achieve citywide, though results varied by community. Menino believed the key to revitalizing neighborhoods was developing small businesses, and Roslindale was one place where the formula unquestionably worked.
All this was Menino’s Boston, from Beacon Hill to neighborhoods full of immigrants struggling to gain or maintain a stronghold, and this route reflects his history of bridging those worlds.
Menino’s odyssey will end where it started, in Hyde Park, with a funeral at Most Precious Blood Church, followed by its final destination, Fairview Cemetery.
Menino’s procession will cover 71 years in the life of a man and 20 years in the life of a city. In death, as in life, they stand intertwined.