Bostonians share hopes for new year

A hat from the previous night's celebration lays on Boylston Street on New Years Day.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
A hat from the previous night's celebration lays on Boylston Street on New Years Day.

Liz, 68, who lives in Brigham Circle, dreams of cleaner sidewalks in the coming year. Patty, a 49-year-old resident of Back Bay, hopes for more investment in the city’s arts scene. Troy, 44, homeless since Halloween, seeks something simpler in 2016: respectful treatment of all people.

Bostonians interviewed across the city Friday had no shortage of ideas for making life in Boston better in the year ahead. Many said their greatest hope is peace — but they also pine for simpler things: trains that run on time, sidewalks cleared of snow, and an adequate supply of parking spaces.

“I think the city should lower taxes for people who have lived here for decades, who can’t afford to live here anymore,” said Dennis McCrum, a longtime South End resident out walking on Washington Street on Friday morning. “And we need to quit fooling ourselves — people who move here are not giving up their cars. Developers need to build parking spaces for every unit they sell.”


A few hundred yards away in Franklin Square park, Miguel Martinez sat on a bench, smiling in spite of the bitter wind. He said he has struggled with mental illness, and with homelessness, and he hopes the city will do more this year to help people like him.

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He also hopes for something the city can’t provide: a research breakthrough that will lead to better treatments, pills to ease his symptoms without crippling side effects.

Residents elsewhere expressed more modest goals. Zachary Fried, 22, would like the city to repair picturesque but cracked and buckling brick sidewalks. Valnei Santos, a visitor from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said he hopes the city will consider installing lights to illuminate street signs at night, “for people who don’t know their way around.”

A man pauses to look at an ice sculpture in Copley Square on New Years Day in Boston, Massachusetts.
Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff
A man pauses to look at an ice sculpture in Copley Square on New Years Day in Boston, Massachusetts.

The city’s First Night celebration continued in Copley Square on Friday, with ice sculptures on display and live music onstage, but Aliulino Cruz, 35, standing outside, was focused on the scratch ticket in his hand. His real hope was not for the millions it offered, he said, but for a year when the city will create more jobs.

In a world filled with ugliness, “I get hope from my children,” said Cruz, “and all children.”


On the steps of a Roxbury mosque, the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, two teenage girls answered quickly when asked their hopes for the coming year.

“Most American people look at Muslims as being bad,” Hanan Almutairi, 16, said. “But we are American. We want to be safe. . . . I hope we will fix the way we are seen.”

Waiting at a bus stop on Huntington Avenue, a 35-year-old single mother named Jessica said she hopes the government will provide more oversight for low-income housing. Abuse of the Section 8 rental program is rampant, she said, and it spreads resources thin, leaving few options for her and her 15-month-old daughter while she works full-time and goes to school.

“The system is broken, but it could be fixed,” she said, pulling pink mittens onto the baby’s hands.

Jose Burgos and Tracy Smith don’t see their needs as insurmountable, either. The homeless couple spent the last night of 2015 sleeping in a doorway in Roxbury, as they have for years, but they hope to find a place to live this year.


Smith, 47, said she was diagnosed with cancer this summer and given a year to live. She left the warmth of the hospital a month ago to be with Burgos, her partner of 25 years, she said.

“If I only have so much time left, why would I stay in the hospital?” she said. “I want to be with him.”

Standing together on Dudley Street, next to the shopping cart where they stash their blankets, they said they are grateful to be together.

Burgos, who worked as a roofer before being hurt in a fall, said he hopes to find a place to live for his wife and himself. “Just give me a room, and I’ll take it from there.”

Jenna Russell can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @jrussglobe.