While many of us were stuck at home these last 14 months, the city kept changing.
It always has, of course ― block by block, building by building ― over the course of nearly 400 years. But when you walk the streets every day, those changes can feel gradual, almost imperceptible. For people returning to Boston after more than a year, whether for work or pleasure, the “then and now” effect can be striking.
New buildings are going up seemingly everywhere in Boston this spring. COVID-19 hit, after all, in the midst of a historic construction boom. And while building did pause under city orders last spring as everyone figured out how to continue work safely, it resumed a few weeks later and has continued nonstop ever since. At times last year, while so many of us were holed up with our laptops and our kids, it often seemed like the only people on the street in some parts of town were construction workers, plugging away at jobs that can’t be done from home.
Now their handiwork is on display. Sites that were but a hole in the ground when the pandemic began are today the site of steel towers being wrapped in glass. Landmarks such as City Hall Plaza are being transformed, and the view of the Citgo sign from Commonwealth Avenue will never be quite the same because of construction. There are new parks, new public art, and ― soon ― new places to see a show. Even a chunk of elevated railway has been torn down for Green Line trains you’ll one day be able to ride all the way to Medford.
Much has been lost, too. Every dark downtown restaurant and “For lease” sign lining Newbury Street represents a business that went under, livelihoods that may take years to come back. The mask signs and COVID 19-testing facilities that dot the cityscape reflect a threat that’s likely to stay with us for a long time.
But this spring has been one of celebration, of a reawakening of a city that sat too quiet for too long. Our photographers have been out to see what has changed over the last year-plus. Get out there and see for yourself, as well.