With heavy hearts, Kendall Square workers return

Pedestrians enjoyed the sunshine in Kendall Square on Monday.
Josh Reynolds for the Boston Globe
Pedestrians enjoyed the sunshine in Kendall Square on Monday.

Monday looked like a normal back-to-work day in Kendall Square: Office workers and college students crisscrossed the streets, customers queued at cafes and food trucks, and the air was filled with the clamor of construction.

Except for this: a palpable sense of reflection among the computer coders and tech entrepreneurs whose offices were shut down Friday after the Boston Marathon bombers allegedly killed an MIT police officer nearby and triggered a regionwide manhunt.

“It’s different. I feel sad today,” said MIT employee Sharon McGarty, as she sat on a park bench near the Kendall Square T stop, enjoying the sunny spring afternoon on her lunch break.


The bursts of euphoria that swelled through people Friday night and into the weekend after authorities captured one of the suspects, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, alive in Watertown had passed. Returning to Kendall Square, just a few short blocks from the violent shooting that set off the wild manhunt, had workers here thinking again about the scope of the attack on Boston.

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“There’s a quietness in people’s attitudes,” said Alexandra Lee, deputy director of the Kendall Square Association, a neighborhood business group.

Indeed, Monday was punctuated by moments of silence in Kendall and across the Boston area in memory of the victims. Lunchtime conversations focused on what people were doing on Friday, when business — and everything else around Boston — ground to a halt as the region focused on the gripping manhunt in Watertown for the surviving bombing suspect.

McGarty sat just blocks from where MIT police officer Sean Collier was slain near the school’s Stata Center, and where a memorial of American flags, handwritten notes, and flowers marked the scene. Prior to last week, McGarty said, MIT police officers often blended into the background.

Now, McGarty said, “you want to hug them all and thank them for what they did.”


But even as it was difficult to focus on work Monday with the tragic bombings — and the frenzied aftermath — fresh in peoples’ minds, many were trying to make up for lost time from Friday, when Kendall Square and much of the Boston area was closed for business.

“There was a lot of intensity in the morning. People were pretty heads down,” said James Psota, the chief technology officer at Panjiva Inc., a Kendall Square start-up that has created a global database of manufacturing suppliers.

Psota was in New York on Friday, communicating via e-mail with his team of about a dozen people who were working from home that day.

But even though the added security — the bomb squads and heavily armed police that were a frequent sight all last week — has all gone, Psota said workers in Kendall Square “are still freaked out.”

Throughout last week, many of the tech entrepreneurs in the area — and throughout the Boston area — worked their vast networks on Twitter and other social media to raise money for the victims of Monday’s bombings.


Fashion Project, an Internet retailer based in Kendall Square with about 12 employees that operates an online marketplace for used designer clothes, set up a special boutique from which all proceeds would support The One Fund, established by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Governor Deval Patrick to support the bombing victims.

“We had a lot of people from our team who were really close when the blast happened,” said Anna Palmer, chief executive officer of Fashion Project. “It’s hard to get back to business as usual and just forget.”

Michael B. Farrell
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