Boston Architecture Cruise +, 9/7/13

Perfect day to be tourists at home. Took the Charles River Boat Company’s Architecture cruise of Boston, narrated by Beth from Boston By Foot. 90 minute tour and history of Boston’s skyline, harbor, Charles River, buildings, architects – and she knew so much she probably could have talked about the city for twice that time. [click any photo to enlarge]

Did you know the building code in the North End requires that the Old North Church should remain visible from the harbor (in tribute to Paul Revere’s “one if by land, two if by sea” viewpoint. Have you ever noticed that most of the skyscrapers in Boston have flat roofs? Did you know that sections of the floor of the Zakim have diamond-shaped cutouts over the Charles to let sunlight through to the river – to maintain the ecosystem and so the Alewife fish that return to spawn upstream will find their way?

The tour took us through the Charles River Dam, through the locks, under the Zakim Bridge to Boston harbor, where we cruised all the way down to the Moakley Courthouse at the Seaport district, then back up by Old Ironsides in Charlestown, back into the Charles River and under the Longfellow bridge. Did you know that the “salt & pepper shaker” towers of that bridge are carved to look like the prow of a Viking ship? It’s in tribute to the myth that the Vikings first explored Boston (see Leif Eriksen statue on the Comm. Ave. Mall!).

Beth pointed out a lovely park on the Cambridge side of the river, mitigation for the Big Dig that created the Zakim Bridge (and 16 years of construction mess, and billions in cost overruns). After the cruise, we grabbed lunch in the Galleria Mall food court, and headed to North Point Park, a state Department of Conservation & Recreation park. The entrance is just across the street from the Museum of Science. Lovely lawns, gardens, tall reeds, flowers, canals, weeping willow trees, footbridges, playgrounds, all along the river where you can sit and watch the Duck Boats splash down, plus sailboats, kayakers. We watched the “seesaw” railroad bridge, with its giant cement weight blocks, swing open and closed to let boats or trains to/from North Station pass.

We walked the S-shaped footbridge over the channel to a park with stone blocks, cobblestone designed surface, mesh metal columns like statues – UNDER the Zakim, where you can see the base of the towers that hold the cables (and roadway) above. That hidden park opens to Paul Revere Park (that’s where he landed, grabbed the horse for the ride to Concord), and the big dam and locks. The Dam has brass bas relief plaques depicting historic scenes of the Charles, and the dam’s construction. If you keep going along the waterfront, you reach Old Ironsides and the Navy Yard in Charlestown – another day, perhaps.

After all the outdoor green and blue goodness, and local history, we went to the Museum of Science for the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit – dry, ancient, impressive small discolored fragments of scrolls (what a jigsaw puzzle!), plus pottery, coins, and other artifacts found in the Qumran caves. The major intact scrolls remain in the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, so this exhibit lacked the power of that one.

Dinner in Medford with #1 son at Lantana Cafe. Creative, delicious, Mediterranean menu.

Totally a “cup runneth over” day.

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