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Tech journalist since the dark ages. Windows Secrets, LangaList newsletter, Windows Magazine (NetGuide, Home PC), Byte, Popular Computing, yadda yadda yadda. Google me, if it matters.

This feed is mostly personal interest; it's NOT my professional writing. There's tech here, yes, but also lots of general science and some politics and weird humor thrown in.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Beginning a 1-year exploration of Boston

I recently rented an apartment in Boston, Massachusetts. I’m on the 10th floor; here’s the view through my rain-spattered windows as I type this.

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It’s raining today, but it was gorgeous a few days ago. I took a bunch of photos as I explored a greenway near my place.

I wondered if Boston’s infamous, albeit beloved, “dirty water” of my youth was still, um, dirty. But it’s actually quite pleasant. You might not even know you’re in the heart of a major city.

The fens are alive with birds, fish, amphibians, and vegetation.

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Some is quite natural, other parts groomed and planted, like these apple trees, whose petals created a spectacular carpet.

I won’t choke this post with more photos; if you wish, you can see the whole series (and the full-res pix) here: http://photobucket.com/fenswalk

The greenway in the photos (it comprises 1,100-acres in all; 7 miles [11km] end to end; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerald_Necklace) is called the Fens; my apartment is in the Fenway district. Everyone’s heard of Fenway Park (a  5 minute walk from my place), but the ballpark gets its name from the district, not the other way around.

“Fenway” is an obscure term today, and dates to Boston’s origins as a near-island connected to the mainland via a narrow neck that was surrounded by marshy wetlands. In 1630, when Boston was founded, the term for a marsh or wetland was a “fen.”

We value marshes and wetlands today, but then, fens were undesirable places. Over the years, as Boston grew, much of the fens were filled, drained and developed. In fact, Boston’s tony Back Bay is mostly built on wetlands reclaimed in the 1800’s.

That’s also why the Back Bay is one of the few parts of Boston with a geometric street grid; one of the few parts that was deliberately engineered from scratch.  All the other streets that date back to Boston’s origins follow the original natural drainages and native American footpaths. This is what gave rise to the jumble of organic, unplanned streets that are famous for confusing visitors to Boston today.

Anyway, one of the streets that runs alongside the old fens is called "Fenway;" hence the name of the district, and the eponymous ballpark.

Here’s an aerial view of the Fenway district, including the ballpark, , the nearly portion of the greenway, and (starred) the location of my apartment.

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BTW: My son, Eric Langa, is doing a similar exploration of New York City. He moved to Harlem a while back --- another area that’s enormously changed since the days when I was young. He’s documenting his NYC experiences, and may join me in posting here.

Thanks for reading!