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Photo essay | DERRICK Z. JACKSON

For a vibrant waterfront, hold the big box

The scene in Fort Point.

As the $1.1 billion expansion of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center sails through the Legislature under rosy economic projections little different than pitches for sports stadiums, Massachusetts may sail right past the chance to make the South Boston waterfront a far more vibrant district than a bigger box would provide. Along and under the BCEC footprint, a more 24/7 vitality has fluttered into full flight in the Fort Point area, stretching down from South Station almost right up to the Broadway Red Line Stop.

It seems ironic for the state to lust for a bigger convention center during a national glut of exhibition space while Topic No. 1 in Boston is the availability of livable space. As office workers with coffee cups walk down streets now too narrow for people to easily pass by each other and as children are now visible playing off stair rails, the question should be asked before it is too late: do we want more of this, or just a larger cocoon that conventioneers disappear into, and forever deadening a more 24/7 vision of the district.


The morning rush of workers crosses A and Iron Street.
The parking lot the expanded convention center would back out onto.
A woman walks her dog on A Street with the current convention center in the background.
A Street on a late afternoon, with view of downtown Boston in the background.
A modern office building blends in with the older structures of Fort Point.