Just walking around town close to Faneuil Hall, I was trampled by tourists. Sure, it is the peak summer season, but it just seemed “monumental”, which reminded me of a recent survey of national destinations. A few weeks ago, neighbor Ann Pistorio handed me a USA Today article referencing a Forbes Traveler national survey of popular tourist destinations. I looked it up online to get the numbers and here it is:
Faneuil Hall ranks as #4 on the list of “America’s Most Visited Tourist Attractions” with 20 million visitors per year.
Wow, 20 million visitors … right at the entrance of the North End/Waterfront neighborhood. That’s more than DisneyWorld, Niagara Falls and way ahead of the Grand Canyon. The article is a few months old (February 2009), but it’s this time of year that it is so noticeable. Of course, the North End offers such historic attractions as Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church along the Freedom Trail. The Aquarium and Harborwalk along Boston Harbor are also on every tourist map. So, it’s no mystery why millions of visitors flow through the neighborhood every year.
The three sites ahead of Faneuil Hall are Times Square, Las Vegas Strip and Washington D.C. National Monuments. So if it Hanover Street seems a little like Times Square … well, it is!
What does this mean? With the Greenway parks now open, the flow of tourists is non-stop. With all these folks already here, why are there so many efforts to “activate” the Greenway? It is also easy to understand the rush to open businesses on Cross Street and put out sidewalk tables in front of every restaurant. Even a Fortune Teller believes enough tourists will want their ‘readings’ just by passing by her 2nd floor walkup on Hanover Street.
One wonders how much more the neighborhood can absorb as the balance shifts away from a place to live and more toward a tourist trap. Can a neighborhood of approximately 12,000 residents survive as a place to live with 20 million visitors flowing through it? Or are we destined to be nothing more than a gelati stop?