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Letters | CITY HALL’S HALF CENTURY

Its overseers have not been kind to this structure

RE “THE birth of City Hall’’ (Ideas, Feb. 12): I was in college when Boston City Hall was built. I recall seeing the blueprints and being confused by the entrances on the first and third levels. (Mere mortals think in two dimensions, not on the hillside slope between Congress and Cambridge streets.) My first job was as an entry-level employee in City Hall, where I discovered that the complexity of the drawings obscured the simple logic of the building: public spaces at the bottom and bureaucratic office space above.

The plaza also fit with the times, an era of demonstrations protesting the Vietnam War and the ills of society. What better space to allow citizens their right of free assembly?

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The building was never given the softening interior elements of plants, banners, drapery, and art. The lobby where the public queued to pay parking tickets or obtain birth certificates never got the furnishings and accoutrements that could soothe the soul and make up for these quotidian tasks.

The city has not been kind to the building. On a recent visit, I noticed that much of the metal work on the counters had fallen into disrepair, and that no one seemed to care about maintaining the lighted elevator signs explaining which agency is on which floor. Compare this with the condition of commercial office buildings such as One Beacon Street or 60 State Street, both of similar vintage as Boston City Hall and both still considered class A addresses.

William Lee Roberts

West Roxbury

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