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Architecture Critic Robert Campbell Takes a Third Shot at the Greenway Parks

North End Greenway Parks “Grandstand area”; photo, Summer 2010

The Globe’s architecture critic, Robert Campbell, took his third annual spring walk down the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. Regarding the North End Greenway parks, he writes:

“My walk began at the North End, where the Greenway consists of two big green lawns overlooked by a sort of grandstand. There were three people and two dogs on the lawns, and a total of 26 people sitting at the lengthy row of tables and benches of the grandstand. There were four walkers. It was like a scene from a surrealist film. With so few people, so spaced out, the place felt emptier than if there’d been no one at all. I don’t know why there’s a grandstand, which offers no protection from sun or rain. Are people supposed to use it to watch a soccer game, or maybe some ultimate Frisbee? But the lawns are too carved up by barriers and level changes to make good sports fields.”

Continuing on to the Wharf District Greenway parks on a day when Faneuil Hall and the Blackstone Block were packed, Campbell observes:

“At its center stands a group of hideous tall metal pylons, arranged in a rectangle. The pylons are supposed to frame the Greenway’s heart. On my Sunday springtime visit, not a single soul was to be seen anywhere in the pylon area, which is three blocks long.”

Referencing a book by Harvard Professor Edward Glaeser, Campbell argues for more neighborhood housing:

“what the Greenway needs is more people living nearby … if a city stops building new housing, as Greater Boston more or less has done, and if demand for housing remains strong, the result will be rising prices. The city will become unaffordable to exactly the kind of young, creative people it needs for its future greatness. … if the Greenway is going to work as a park, it’s going to need to be surrounded by a living neighborhood.”

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4 Replies to “Architecture Critic Robert Campbell Takes a Third Shot at the Greenway Parks

  1. Maybe the author of this article should take his walk on a hot summer day when there are kids of all ages playing in the fountains and in the grass.

  2. The Greenway needs more trees and more shaded seating.The author must of chose a cold rainy day,because when the weather is nice and the fountains are flowing the place is packed.

  3. The "hideous pylons" are for the night, when they perform a stunning light show. Campbell should visit on a warm summer evening.

  4. I agree with DMF more trees…it's a Greenway! Make it green!

    And stop building stupdid things like Harbor Islands Pravillion! Why do we always have to build on our open spaces in Boston? It's not even finished and it's an eyesore. Who's idea was that???

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