|A day in Boston
||[Nov. 9th, 2014|06:37 pm]
Previously: We flew out of Edinburgh, the journey was a journey, we started by exploring Woburn - and since we had a date to meet non-LJ friends for dinner in Boston, the next day was our day for being tourists in the city.
Our gracious hosts drove us to the end of the T, where we bought passes, and then it's an easy trip to Downtown Crossing, where a banjo player on the platform is just setting up for some travelling music, and out onto the Common. Now what? We hadn't made any particular plans, and though there was a tourist information place on the Common, it didn't offer us anything that really appealed: but we wandered across the Common, came out on Beacon Hill, and were very happy just to keep wandering there.
I liked the redbrick buildings, the human scale, the decorative details, the sense that here in the very centre of the city was a neighbourhoof where people still live and work (real work, not incomprehensible abstract work):
And then, like sartorias, we came across the Vilna Shul:
It welcomes visitors in, with wicker seats to rest outside, and a wealth of information inside, a school tour in progress upstairs in the synagogue proper, and an overload of information downstairs.
When it was built in 1919, it was a very modern synagogue (the men's and women's galleries, though separate, form an L shape, and can see each other). Now the surviving murals are some of the only examples of pre-war Jewish mural art in the United States.
A little sculptural minyan by Nancy Schön stands on its plinth on the landing, under the star of David window. There were more visual pleasures down below, in the photographs of Jules Aarons, a physicist whose hobby was photography, and whose photographs chronicle the streets of Boston among other topics. I was intrigued by the emphasis in the material on display on the Vilna Shul not as somewhere that had been abandoned by its congregation, but as somewhere from which they had moved on, a stage in their dispersal into a wider American life (I don't want to misrepresent this by over-compression, or faulty memory, but it was an interesting twist).
Our travel passes were good for the harbour ferry as well as the T itself, and durham_rambler was keen to make the most of this. I was quite weary, but happy to sit on a ferry and watch the world go by. Less happy, when we reached Charlestown, to learn that durham_rambler wasn't planning to turn round and go straight back, nor yet to kill 20 minutes waiting for the next ferry with a gentle stroll. No, he was up for the full USS Constitution experience; and I was even less delighted to find out that this meant going through security, removing belts and producing ID and all. The security officer greeted us genially: "Ah, we've caught a couple of British spies!" but I wasn't in the mood to be amused. I sat down on deck and glowered, and took pictures of black things:
Back in Boston, it could have been a pleasant walk along the harbour to our rendez-vous at Legal Seafoods on the waterfront, but in fact it was mostly a slog past buiding sites. Seeing M and W after all this time was a delight, but the restaurant was noisy, and when they suggested going somewhere else for coffee - and then giving us a lift back to where we were staying, we made a quick call to weegoddess, and combined the two: J's excellent coffee back in Woburn, and introducing two sets of friends to each other.
I'd call that a day well spent.