Downtown Crossing isn’t dead. That fact matters in and of itself, since Boston’s former commercial hub has attracted a mighty stack of obituaries in recent years. Even though it still looks like the place that was drawing comparisons to Fallujah three years ago, the long-suffering district is rebounding. Businesses actually believe in Downtown Crossing again. There’s suddenly confidence in the downtown. Once it returns, the neighborhood’s redevelopment becomes a self-fulfilling event.
It was Michael Flaherty, the former mayoral challenger, who lobbed the Fallujah barb at Downtown Crossing. It wasn’t enough for Flaherty to rip the fact that vacancies and down-market storefronts had overwhelmed the city’s onetime epicenter; he elevated the comparison from a place like Detroit to a bombed-out den of urban warfare. The 2009 mayoral campaign’s fireworks capped years of writing off Downtown Crossing. And, like every other recent discussion of the neighborhood’s shortcomings, the criticism took direct aim at the pit where Filene’s once stood.