Progress and Change

050660 09 00I
Image Source: Nick DeWolf

There’s a kind of poem to remember what the weather light on the Berkeley Building means:

Steady blue, clear view
Flashing blue, clouds due
Steady red, rain ahead
Flashing red, snow instead

Now the only exception to this is flashing red in summer, and that means that the Red Sox have been rained out. But that’s what that light on top of the tower is all about. I always think of that poem when I’m on the trolley and the tower comes into view. I don’t speak about this sort of thing too much, but it’s one of those little things that make me happy and proud to be a Bostonian.

I especially love seeing the light of the tower on a good spring night, while walking through the Public Garden and Boston Common, with a light fog to make the new flowers pop. The city is just so damn pretty then: warm and proper, but just a bit mysterious, too. And it works so well because of the scale of the skyline.

I’ve heard talk about putting up a couple of new glass towers. I hope that doesn’t happen. I suppose everything has to change, but I’d hate to see something so cockeyed. The scale of Boston is manageable. That’s what makes it so livable.

Here we are freshly in 1960. Boston is nearly two hundred years old, and the connection to history is still there at every corner. And yet you can go out to the corner store and get a bottle of milk anytime. To me that’s a livable city. It has problems, to be sure. But all those problems seem to be erased on a night like this, with a view of that magnificent tower.

I hope that doesn’t change. I can’t imagine the new poem. Glass and steel, rain real? It just wouldn’t be the same…

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19 comments
  1. Nice. You do hometown memories (and all the other stories) really well.
    Is the Berkely buiilding with light still standing?

    • I am happy to say it is still standing and the weather beacon still functioning, although it’s now in the shadow of the John Hancock tower, which is basically a 600′ wall of glass that went up in the early 70s. That tower was preceded by the Prudential tower, which is one of the most heinous pieces of glass and steel late ’60s horror you’ll ever see.

      • Shahidah said:

        Yeah the Pru is not a pretty building but I love it

      • Can’t imagine the Hub without it. I spent many useless hours in the observatory. Must go back soon…

    • It’s properly known as the Berkeley Building, but most know it as the Old Hancock tower…

  2. writerwendyreid said:

    Boston sounds like a wonderful place to live. :)

    • siigh…I’ve been missing it a lot lately…

      • writerwendyreid said:

        Can you not go back to visit? Where are you now?

      • Oh, I’m in Maine. Easy visit. I just miss taking those walks through the Common back to my apartment now. ;)

  3. You live in a very cool town. I hope they forgo the glass towers. I love the old old mixed in with the new, but glass is so cold!

  4. Lily said:

    Gah I’ve never been to Boston. I really want to go. I’ve been to a lot of places, but not there.

    • COME ON DOWN!!!

      • Lily said:

        Will do! I’ll hit you up when I’m in town!

  5. I didn’t know about the light and the associated poem, nice to hear about your personal space in Boston!

    • My pleasure, ma’am.

  6. Boston is one of my favorite cities. You’re right, it’s manageable. That’s why I like London, as well. I always think of Boston as being young and smart. I was gonna say clean, but I haven’t been there in awhile so I don’t know?

    • I moved back to Maine ten years ago, and when I left there was definitely an upwardly mobile feel encroaching, which would mean abnormally clean. The cleanest American city I’ve ever been to is Chicago: nothing comes close. But I certainly never experienced walls of garbage like in New York. Hit or miss, I guess. I’m FINALLY getting over to London for our 10th Anniversary next summer (wife has already been twice). Can. Not. Wait…

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