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City cancels upcoming winter festival on City Hall Plaza to make way for plaza redo

Proposed new City Hall Plaza

The mayor's office says it finally has a plan to permanently convert the vast field of bricks outside City Hall into a place that can support even more festivals and become a place where people will want to come for more than just special events, but that the work to achieve the seemingly impossible will require it to cancel the annual winter festival that had brought hundreds of thousands of people to the plaza over the past two winters, and don't you dare think the timing might have had to do with increasing friction between the city, the festival's operator and its subcontractors.

A press release from Mayor Walsh's office includes a statement from Boston Garden Development Corp., which had run the festival, that while it's sad, it is "supportive of the City's plans and Mayor Walsh's long-term vision for this unique space."

The plaza work, expected to begin next year, will include lots of new trees and "a seasonal fountain," near the Bill Russell monument, not near the original water feature along Cambridge Street, which had to be shut because it kept leaking into the Green Line tunnel under it.

In recent years, the city has sought to turn that part of the plaza into a more welcoming space by putting out picnic benches and chairs, as well as providing such things as cornhole and giant-chess sets.

The project will also include "work to improve accessibility and access to power, water and data to ensure long-term success and profitability for the city, event organizers and vendors. "

Also see:
The last time City Hall Plaza had a fountain.

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Comments

The Feds have even more say in how that area is shaped.
This new design also breaks up any massing of the people who want to protest idiot policies put forth by ODD, Our Delusional Despot. [What? You were hoping DD was Dunkin' Donuts?]

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Voting closed 9

One of their slogans is "America Runs On Dunkin'". Maybe America is also run by Dunkin' too...

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And I'll get whatever prize is out there for being the first person to note that there are no cars parked by the entrance to City Hall in the picture. Not realistic.

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Voting closed 38

Wait, the definition of "plaza" isn't "a parking lot for lazy cops"?

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I came here just to comment the same thing. Boston Municipal (Parking Lot) Services

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So now our cops are lazy? Or is it your obsession with hating all things car has you painting large swaths of people with one brush. You know, like Trump does? Next thing you know you'll be calling other states shithole states just like Trump does with countries he doesn't like or saying all drivers are criminals just like Trump does with our neighbors to the south. Oh wait, you already do those things. Nevermind.

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Voting closed 18

Only the ones who park there.

There is a parking garage at City Hall.

A BPD Station is a block away, on a block dedicated to police parking.

There are numerous places to park on Cambridge Street.

So yes, parking on a pedestrian plaza is being lazy. Of a cop can’t walk a block, they should consider another line of work.

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Voting closed 16

Maybe the cops are parked there for official reasons? And what if there is an emergency? You want them blocks away from their vehicle?

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You know, after going 10 rounds with some idiot a while back, I’ve thought about this even more this time.

Much like any other police force, they should respect the law. The reality is that if there were an emergency someplace else, first, BPD could respond much quicker, and again, they have parking at their station house a block (not “blocks” as you falsely claim) away. If this was something the municipal security guards need to handle, City Hall is not their headquarters, and the dynamics of trying to quickly respond while navigating pedestrians walking in an area set aside for walking means a loss of time. Easily, parking in the garage would be easier for a response. That this a constant thing, we can assume that these cars are not responding to emergencies while parked there.

In short, they are being lazy.

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Voting closed 19

Fine. Cops are lazy. May as well add in all civil service employees. And definitely T workers and anyone in a union too. I was more responding to Kinopio yet again painting a whole group of people (anyone with a car) with one brush. Im not bothered either way about a cop car on city hall plaza. I didn't mean to trigger any traumatic memories for you either. So you win. If a cop is parked on city hall plaza he is lazy. That is settled. I hope you had a great 4th!

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I do believe that Kinopio registered his handle to go after me for defending a certain practice seen by some drivers in winter months, but in this case, he is right, and I don't hesitate in pointing that out. He didn't call out an entire class of people (as he often does,) only those who have decided that a pedestrian plaza is their personal parking lot. Not wanting to walk a block is a sign of laziness, and any cop who sees this should be noting how bad it makes the profession look when colleagues do this.

You might not be bothered by the parkers, but you sure are bothered by people noting it.

I had a great fourth. We drove out to the suburbs to eat and watch fireworks.

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Voting closed 23

I'm actually not bothered by it. I am bothered by kinopios constant attack on all drivers. I guess I really shouldn't be. He's just a troll who posts his hyperbole and leaves. I'm still learning my way around the many personalities here. I like this site Thanks Adam!

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I also am annoyed at how he trolls drivers, but unfortunately, once in a while he's right and not trollish about it. He was right about something else a few days ago, but then he posting something else on the topic akin to "all drivers are bad" and any good will was gone.

Stuck clock, and all that.

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Double post. Oops!

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If they try to plant those trees the plaza will cave in on the Green Line below. These architects are always smoking something. Every intervention has been a botch job, from the fountain cap to the glassy T headhouse. Has anyone ever noticed that the new Government Center glass box has a structural "X" that "X's" out Boston City Hall? The irony: the box was designed by a GSD professor who's in love with Boston City Hall. I guess the intention was to have a clean framed view of city hall, but instead the architect X'd out the building. With that track record, guess what the rest of the plaza will look like.

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EVERGREEN TREES

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Giant waste of space most of the year, really poor urban design that serves no real purpose. Glad they are finally making use of that chasm.

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from a bagman playing at Mayor and his crooked cronies showing once again that the image of Boston is more important than the reality and that the tourists are the real concern of members of the joke that is the Walsh regime.

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Walsh is making a go of the redesign of the plaza, just like his predecessor did several times over a 20 year period. The guy before that was okay with the plaza, but you would probably have said the same thing about him. And for the kiddies, the guy before him took office just after the plaza opened.

Or perhaps you can just admit that you'd also say that Menino, Flynn, and White felt that tourists are the real concern and that each mayor and his crooked cronies were part of a joke regime.

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Voting closed 37

Tell me, in your own words, how this is needed in a world class city where teachers in the BPS have to buy kids school supplies out of their sparse pockets and then talk to me about previous mayors that weren't moronic bagmen and selfie obsessed criminal nitwits.

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They are a decent sized portion of the local economy. Spending money for improved public spaces both serves residents and visitors unlike a lot of the BCEC related skullduggery.

More tourists = more revenue = higher taxes to pay for BPS and other things. There are so many other dubious uses of city money than this.

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Having serviced literally thousands of them over the years. Most of them have no idea what a racist town the birthplace of liberty is. So you're right, the tourist dollar is so important to the economy for people with a net worth of eight bucks.

So maybe you can explain how none of those precious tourist dollars seem to be getting to the teacher that has to buy a box of lined paper for her kids?

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I'd be almost interested in knowing more about your theory that the city should be doing a better job to clarify the racism here to tourists in order to, I guess, decrease tourism so teachers can get more money from the now smaller city budget. Almost interested. Maybe I'll tune in to your show! (spoiler alert - I will not.)

Seems like a mulit-billion dollar local industry should be supported in ways that benefit the residents and the visitors to me.

BPS funding is way more complex than you are presenting it and that topic has been thoroughly debated for years on the comments here. Feel free to try to educate yourself on the issue in all your free time.

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You can ask why badly needed funds that the Mayah says aren't there for the BPS seem to be available for sky gondola studies and improvements to the gateway to Fanueil Hall.

And as someone who benefited financially from those tourists and have actually heard the pleas of those teachers in person and don't make pronunciations based on a seemingly privileged viewpoint, I have to ask, how does that tourist dollar translate into improvements to the aesthetic value of say, Grove Hall or Codman Square? Then tell me about the "complexity' of the BPS budget.

And I don't know how many tourists you know that actually act shocked when they're told about the racist history of the last 50 years here but someone is doing a good job keeping those uninformed tourist dollars coming in. White tourist dollars.

And my show? What do I care if you don't listen? 60k are listening weekly and another 3k watch the FB feed, so someone is listening.

Have a great day!!

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Can't hang that on Boston alone.

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You're talking craziness.

If he's a bagman tell us how? And for who?

Who are his cronies guilty of anything?

Details please.

Can you back any of this up?

Thanks.

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someone said they were putting in a Ferris wheel?

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The fix for City Hall Plaza is not going to be found in trees, especially in a climate where they'll be reduced to barren sticks for 6 months a year. The fix is to be found in buildings. The Plaza fails because it is surrounded by dead walls (City Hall itself and the JFK building) and streets. What it needs are welcoming, pedestrian-friendly buildings to activate and bring life to the plaza.

Beautiful, easy-to-copy models of this are found all over the world. This isn't hard:

Sienna

Brussels

Philadelphia

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Not as fancy as your examples, but still brings in crowds. Also seasonal which is a bit of a problem.

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Get a sense of what's underneath the plaza and you'll realize why every building proposal for BCHP comes and goes. Toronto made the most of its modern Nathan Phillips Square. Little realistic improvements here and there. Boston can only hope to match NPS in Toronto

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Did you know Boston's City Hall Plaza was modeled after Piazza del Campo in Siena? The downside is ours doesn't have the same pedestrian level interactive retail that Siena has. Thus when the other draws went away (fountain, trees), there was literally nothing to keep people interested in staying. And while vehicles are allowed in Siena's historic center, they have to have special permit to do so. Boston is clearly different and our plaza is bound on one side by traffic and none of the immediate neighbors welcome people to interact or even stay for any length of time. We need more cafes that encourage a moment of respite.

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They seem to be low on Ls on the captions....

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I wish they could put some turf.

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Given how domineering City Hall is over the plaza is it possible to push back the oppressive, inhuman feeling of City Hall far enough away to create a psychologically inviting environment on the plaza? What about winter? What will keep the plaza from being just an open space that has occasional massive events - some of which welcome only select audiences in spite of the plaza being an open public space - but most of the time is just a cross over from DTX to Haymarket?

Both City Hall and the plaza shout out: STAY OUT!

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City Hall Plaza is evocative of plazas all over Europe. It how it’s used (the Winter Market) or not used (most of the rest of the time) that affects how people view it.

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I feel the building has a fortress like aesthetic. Other brutalist buildings convey the same sense of being a space that is shut off from the outside world. Perhaps if the concrete walls that face part of the structure were gone the building would not communicate the message Do Not Enter. I though I've read that those walls were not part of the original plan.

That City Hall is top heavy does not help. It hulks over both the plaza and anyone on the plaza. That massing at the top with raw concrete facing doesn't work for me. I've seen other buildings with a similar profile, including the massing. But the facing was a red tile. Much less oppressive in feel and look.

The plaza is inevitably affected by the buildings around it. Combined they form the character of the area. Neither City Hall and nor the round fortress like structure on the other side of Cambridge St. reach out to plaza. The Federal office building compounds the problem.

Perhaps the plaza would be used more if it wasn't surrounded by such hulky buildings. I agree that how people use it can affect the overall view. But the area does not invite use. Three sides of the main part of the plaza are surrounded by buildings which are at best uninviting and at worst intimidating.

Are well used European plazas surrounded by foreboding buildings? Look at the Mall in D.C. It is a linear plaza. The buildings on either side are monumental. But their style is not one that is foreboding. It is a grand public style that follows basic rules of architecture that lift the spirit. Brutalist style is the opposite. It's as though buildings along the Mall are heroic while Boston's City Hall is anti-heroic.

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The plaza isn't used because it's a hot, baking, shadeless expanse in the summer, and a windswept, cold, unevenly shoveled surface in the winter. There's a lot of people who work downtown and would like a decent place to sit and eat / get some air for a half hour, but the plaza isn't really set up for it.

Some trees and benches and wind breaks will do a lot.

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Bad architects' designs have been make do designs. Nothing with great creativity that works well for the City Space.

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