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Vision and Design for an Improved North Square (Sans Hubway)

North Square Redesign Model Concept – Founders of Crosstown Foundation for the Arts at 1 North Square, Sandro Carella and Elizabeth Ghiseline

Sandro Carella and Elizabeth Ghiseline, North End residents, architects and founders of Crosstown Foundation for the Arts, Inc. at 1 North Square, presented their vision and design for improvements to North Square and Rachel Revere Park at the August 8, 2013 meeting of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association.

The plan is intended to improve the functionality, accessibility and safe enjoyment of the historic square. An important part of the design is to limit traffic on the side near Sacred Heart Church allowing for more pedestrian access.

The concept has also been presented to the City of Boston Public Improvements Committee and city engineers for consideration. The recently approved City of Boston FY14 Budget includes $2.5 million in funds for improvements to North Square.

A separate North Square topic that was discussed at the NEWRA meeting was the City’s proposal to locate a Hubway bike rack and kiosk within the chained area of the cobblestone area. This was met with strong opposition of those at attendance.

Subsequent to the meeting, City Hall has informed us that a Hubway station will NOT be located in North Square. Alternate locations within the interior North End are under review.

Future public review is expected regarding the North Square redesign. Views of the presented model are shown below. (Click image to enlarge.)

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17 Replies to “Vision and Design for an Improved North Square (Sans Hubway)

  1. Hard to see detail in the photos but anything, ANYTHING that gets rid of the chain will make the square more people-friendly.

    1. It should not change North square has all ways been like this its history y do the new people that have been moving in to the North End for past so many years think they need to change things because they think there idea is better please leave it alone

      1. Hi Frank,

        I’d like to address some of the concerns you raise about North Square, and what we propose for modifications, and perhaps I could talk you out of your objections, perhaps not, but please allow me to try.

        I’m not “new people that have been moving into the North End” wanting to change it for its own sake, in fact have lived here since 1960 – while not as long as many others whose families go back further, I’ve lived here enough to understand what it is to contribute to and care about the place. My mother was the dressmaker who started across the street from Pal’s Lunch, until we moved to North Square. I attended Saint John’s school, and despite living directly across the street from it I was late for school almost every day.

        The proposed modifications to the square have a singular goal in mind – to make North Square accessible and enjoyable by all. They are subtle modifications, not dramatic, and come from years of observing of our physically challenged members trying to navigate the space, tour groups precariously perched in the middle of the street trying to dodge traffic, church-goers having no comfortable place to gather and sit after mass, children from St. John’s having to put cones out to block traffic for safety and having helped women in high heels to their feet after tripping on the cobblestones.

        The historical charm of the stone pavers and chains must be considered in light of the obstacles that they present. Of course, a study in materials is in order, and was beyond the scope of the draft we presented in our model. We have, however, considered other precedents where granite pavers were surfaced on each side, perhaps allowing us to preserve some of their appeal. A study of how to evoke the imagery of the maritime significance of the Seamen’s Bethel is in order as well, perhaps some of the chains remain where a traffic barrier is required. These considerations are admittedly incomplete, but one has to start somewhere.

        We have presented our study to several small groups (the North End Historical Society, St. Marks Society, a Sacred Heart Church Annual Breakfast) and most recently at the NEWRA meeting. We wish to proceed respectfully and with the support, participation and feedback of the North End community, and are in the process of trying to earn that support- we understand it will take hard work.

        The model is a study of what the superimposition of a series of gentle ramps and flat, accessible surfaces could do to allow all citizens to participate in the enjoyment of North Square. I think that we owe this much to everyone from the elderly of our neighborhood, the children of St. John’s, the victims of bombings that left them without limbs, and especially our veterans, many of whom return from duty physically challenged only to find that Boston is still one of the most “handicapped-unfriendly” cities in the nation.

        These are the considerations that prompted the study, feel free to have a closer look at http://www.NorthSquareCircle.org, which we will be updating with our progress.

        Respectfully,

        sandro


        Sandro A. Carella

        Crosstown Foundation for the Arts, Inc.
        http://www.crosstown.org

        Architecture
        Architettura
        Arquitectura

        http://www.crosstown.com

        One North Square
        Boston, MA 02113
        United States of America
        Telephone (001) 617.720.0100

        sandro@crosstown.com
        carellas@wit.edu
        crosstownart@gmail.com

  2. And I myself do not see a problem putting that hub bike rack there it would help a lot of people that do not have a car to get to places I think everyone that said no has a car that’s y its another sad day for the North End with another bad vote for people it could of helped

  3. I agree with Frank — we need more hubway bicycles in our area. It brings people here and let’s us residents use the bikes too.

  4. The proposed Hubway Bicycle Kiosk location in the middle of North Square could not have been worse a setting. North Square is our Nation’s oldest square, it is home to such historic sites as Paul Revere’s House, Sacred Heart Church and the Mariner’s House. It would have ruined the aesthetic of that wonderful area. I also question how people would be able to ride bikes on the cobblestone, and what would happen to the decorative chain that is a reminder of our neighborhood’s fishing and maritime past.

    We also do not want the station on Hanover Street (in front of Giacamos) which was also being considered by the city Bike Czar. That is the second worst location I heard about. Not only we would lose precious parking spaces but can you imagine the safety issues with people trying to access the bicycle kiosk in the middle of already pedestrian and vehicle congested Hanover Street.

    There are currently two locations in the Neighborhood for these stations, one on Cross Street (near Salem Street) and the other is on Commercial Street near Starbucks. May I suggest alternative locations such as the Tennis Courts or near the Bocce Courts or Puopolo Park or the Mirabella Pool entrances.

    The Hubway Bike program is wonderful, It encourages less traffic and healthier living, however, The North End does not need a 30 foot bike rental station and the accompanying bicycle traffic in the middle of the neighborhood. If people are riding bikes, its a safe bet that they can park on the outskirts of the neighborhood and walk up the street to where they need to go.

    Thanks to Councilor LaMattina, Rep. Michlewitz and Nicole Leo for hearing our concerns and responding to them!

  5. I agree that a bicycle kiosk right in North Square is dumb and short sighted. However, I may be one of the few people on this blog but I am pretty tired of parking cars on the street to be one of the predominant concerns of the neighborhood.

    1. My main issue is with the siting locations for the kiosks that were mentioned at the meeting. Neither is appropriate aesthetically or for issues of public safety.

  6. Jason, You are SO RIGHT, it is frightening.

    The City & State are both overcome with GREED. When & where does it stop?

    This Tiny, Congested Neighborhood is turning into a CIRCUS. The North End is in & around

    1/4 sq. mile, are these people INSANE? The next venture maybe a Connecting Runway

    to Logan Airport. What are they doing to this Tiny Neighborhood?

  7. I was just wondering: if traffic is limited in front of the sacred heart church, to allow more access for pedestrians, what happens when there is a funeral from that church. Or does sacred heart not conduct funerals any longer?

    1. Hi Lilfan,

      The Sacred Heart Church indeed continues to conduct funerals, weddings, masses etc. and will do so in the future, I’m sure. We do not intend to interfere with these at all.

      These rituals have a sense of order all their own, and will be the exceptions to traffic, as they are typically well-coordinated with school activity and do not conflict. Other activities would include the summer’s and fall’s inauguration of the Feast Events of the various saints. We realize these are important events and must be accommodated. ( We have photographs of the participants using North Square to rest during these events.)

      Clearly, emergency services, deliveries, North End Traditions of all kinids, and essential vehicular traffic will be allowed but restricted to the appropriate hours.

      Thanks for the thoughtful question.

      sandro

      Sandro A. Carella

      Crosstown Foundation for the Arts, Inc.
      http://www.crosstown.org

      Architecture
      Architettura
      Arquitectura

      http://www.crosstown.com

      One North Square
      Boston, MA 02113
      United States of America
      Telephone (001) 617.720.0100

      sandro@crosstown.com
      carellas@wit.edu
      crosstownart@gmail.com

  8. Sandro,
    Once school starts, it would be great to have you talk to the St John School Jr high students about your proposed plan, especially future plans for Rachel Revere Park since they use it for recess on a daily basis. It is an exciting venture! Walking by there every morning on the way to SJS, I can see that repairs need to be done as well as some reconstruction. It is a wonderful outdoor space -historic North Square with a fantastic view of the city. It would be cool for the kids to meet with you since they use that space everyday. I applaud your work on this! Hope to read about the progress.

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