The 61 New Best Things About Boston

Hey, we get it—you don't need anybody laying out the reasons to love this city. You're a Bostonian, for crying out loud. You already know there's just so much here here. And now we're going to tell you what's so great about your home? Well, yes. Because while there are the familiar, timeless reasons to adore Boston, with the city evolving faster than ever, every day seems to bring with it a new object of affection. Here's what's filling our hearts with Boston pride right now.

| Boston Magazine |


Photograph by Christopher Churchill

1. The Rest of the Country Secretly Wants to Be Like Us

It’s been several decades since Massachusetts was considered a trusted member of the Union. Sure, the American experiment traces its roots to our state, but as far as our modern-day countrymen—with certain pockets of California excepted—are concerned, things here just got a little too weird over the past century. It’s hard to say exactly why (McGovern in ’72?), but somehow we came to be regarded as simply too out of touch, too out of step, too…European. So distasteful was our particular strain of progressiveness, they had to dream up a slur just to differentiate us from the more commonplace lefties: The Massachusetts Liberal. When the Democrats held their 2004 national convention in Boston, it seemed to many observers the perfect marriage of cause and locale. Jay Leno remarked that summer that “the Democrats are like the Red Sox. They’re optimistic in the spring, concerned in the summer, and ready to choke in the fall.”

A few months after that, of course, the Red Sox conquered the baseball universe, winning their first World Series in 86 years. You could smell the change in the air. Nobody’s mocking us anymore. (Mitt Romney can attest to the effectiveness of making sport of this state.) In fact, recent doings in the rest of the country suggest that our fellow Americans are scrambling to catch up with all the liberal developments here.

When we became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, critics demanded to know what was next—men marrying kangaroos? An outraged President Bush vowed to do whatever was necessary to “defend the sanctity of marriage.” Well, it’s four years later, and the sanctity of equal marriage seems secure. While we remain the only state to sanction full gay marriage, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and New Jersey have followed our lead and now authorize civil unions, and several others, including California, extend domestic benefits. Even Iowa—Iowa!—has gotten in on our act, with the Supreme Court there considering whether the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is constitutional. Massachusetts, sprouting justice in the cornfields of Iowa.

Further proof that the spirit of Massachusetts truly is the spirit of America: Our introduction of universal healthcare two years ago was derided as socialist drivel—a fantasy best left to dreamers. Or Swedes. Well, hälsning, comrades! California’s attempt to copy us fell apart in its legislature (yeah, you’ve got those impressive emission standards, Golden Staters, but when it comes to first-rate pinko policy, we’re eating your organic, free-range, locally grown lunch), but the major Democratic candidates for president this year all made universal healthcare a cornerstone of their campaign. Hell, they even ripped off our idea for providing it!

Speaking of the campaign: Barack Obama may have lost the Massachusetts primary, but like the rest of America, he cannot get enough of our state. When he’s not rolling out both our senators at rallies across the country, he’s cribbing the odd stump line from our governor.

Massachusetts, of course, made Deval Patrick only the second elected black state chief executive. Coincidence, then, that the country may be poised to elect its first black president? Obama’s drive for the White House has, at times, resembled Patrick’s push for Beacon Hill. Both are reformers who took on establishment candidates. Both are sharp thinkers and mesmerizing speakers who energized voters with messages of “hope” and “change.” Maybe Obama really is some kind of Manchurian candidate…from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts.

We could go on—Boston was recently named the third-greenest city, our senate president has filed the first bill outlawing pharmaceutical company gifts to doctors—but the evidence is already overwhelming. As goes the Massachusetts Liberal, so goes the nation. —John Gonzalez and John Wolfson


Pollution-fighting MIT assistant professor Ruben Juanes. (Photograph by Christopher Churchill)

2. Somewhere in an MIT Lab, a Researcher Is This Close to Saving the Planet

Amid all the reports of out-of-control energy costs, melting ice caps, and vanishing natural resources, the headlines, to say the least, are not encouraging. But take heart— the brilliant minds at MIT are on the case. Our favorites of the many earth-savers being cooked up in Cambridge:

Carbon’s Grave. You don’t have to stare at many smokestacks to realize those grimy plumes of smoke are no good for the air. For decades, solutions have focused on removing as much of the nastiness as possible before it gets airborne. But what if the smoke could be kept out of the sky altogether? Scientists have played with pumping it underground or even under the sea, but those attempts have been foiled by cracks that allow the gas to bubble to the surface. Assistant professor Ruben Juanes, however, has a potentially fail-safe fix: He’s scouring the earth for underground pools of salt water, where the CO2 will dissolve in the briny depths and stay out of the atmosphere for good.

Sea Power. It turns out there’s more to the New England surf than grist for postcards: A new form of clean energy can be harnessed from our wave action, says professor Chiang Mei. One of his experiments taps into the rising and falling of a deep-sea buoy tethered in the currents to create mechanical energy; another uses crashing waves to push trapped air out of tubes placed just offshore to yield artificial wind, which would spin energy-producing turbines standing nearby.

Green Concrete. The Romans may have invented concrete, but professor Franz-Josef Ulm’s work on the world’s second-most-consumed resource could prove just as revolutionary. He’s looking at concrete’s nanocomposition, searching for ways to cook stronger batches at lower temperatures. Cooler ovens mean a greener process, one that could slash global CO2 emissions by 10 percent—a reduction that’d be about the same as closing every power plant in the country. —Geoffrey Gagnon


Illustration by Kagan McLeod

3. Swimming in the Charles

Talk about audacity: Simply cleaning up the Charles River—once our famously dirty water, now a rehabilitated ribbon of aquatic grandeur—wasn’t good enough for the folks at the Charles River Conservancy. They’re out to make the Chuck the country’s only swimmable urban waterway. When the river played host last summer to a 68-person race, it was a mere harbinger of things to come, says Ben Martens, hired by the conservancy to be the Charles’s full-time swim coordinator. He says the water’s ready for swimmers, but with the beaches of old now long gone, Bostonians lack an appealing way into the drink. One solution being tossed around: floating bathhouses akin to ones popular in Switzerland. Would Bostonians go for such a thing? They did when pontoon platforms bobbed in the Charles a century ago. —G.G.

robin young

Photograph by Yeheshua Johnson

A Bostonian we love (and what she loves about Boston)

4. Robin Young, 57, public radio doyenne

We could gush about the effortless charm with which she entertains listeners on the WBUR-produced Here and Now, or her three-decade career as one of Boston’s savviest and most likable journalists. But to get a sense of Robin Young’s spirit, you only need consider the wooden bench that sits on her living room floor—which she just happens to have taken from the locker room at the Garden years ago when she was a cub reporter with Channel 38. It is a uniquely wonderful sort of woman who makes off down Causeway Street with a stolen piece of history on her back.

Though her program has become popular nationwide, Young never has to look far from home to find captivating subjects, calling on everyone from author Atul Gawande (#5) to musician Lori McKenna (#6) to historian Doris Kearns Goodwin (#7). “I see all of Boston as a potential guest,” she says. “As the host of a national show, at times I feel we need to book someone in Cleveland so they won’t feel left out.”

There’s plenty about Boston to keep Young intrigued away from the microphone, too, particularly the city’s greenery. She enjoys the lilacs in the Arboretum (#8), the magnolias on Commonwealth Avenue (#9), and the leafless trees reflected off the Charles during the winter (#10). “It’s hypnotic,” she says, “but it makes my heart jump a little at the same time.” —G.G.

We Love This Town Because…

11. French superchef Guy Martin has chosen the Regent hotel for his first U.S. restaurant, explaining his decision thus in the New York Times: “There’s more to America than just New York.”

12. Whitey Bulger sightings are the new Elvis sightings.

13. Donnie Wahlberg and the New Kids apparently are getting the band back together.

14. Bobby Brown is on the market again.

15. As we were just vividly reminded, the classic New England winter has not, in fact, gone extinct.

16. Despite the big crackdown, a lawn chair will still safeguard your hard-won parking spot.


Photograph by Christopher Churchill

17. The Hatred of Sports Fans Around the Nation

A year or so after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, my wife and I visited her family in California. Though an entire baseball season had passed since the Sox became a national feel-good story—Sisyphus at last bringing his boulder to rest—the goodwill generated by that team’s historic accomplishment had yet to fade. When I asked my wife’s nephew who his favorite player was, I was stunned when he said Big Papi. David Ortiz, I reminded him, had played a prominent role in the thrashing of his beloved Angels in the playoffs that year. “I know,” he replied, “but I just like him. He always seems to come through.”

This past Christmas, with all New England basking in still another World Series victory, my wife and I returned to California. When I congratulated her nephew on the success of his favorite player during this latest championship run, he screwed up his face in disgust. “I don’t like Ortiz, and I hate the Red Sox,” he said. “Actually, I hate all the Boston teams.”

It is difficult to convey the degree of pleasure I derived from that exchange. Everyone hates us now, of course. The staggering achievements of the Sox and the Patriots, who between them have won five titles in the past six years, combined with the renewed glory of the Celtics, have had a curious effect on the rest of the country. Fans elsewhere seem incapable anymore of distinguishing one of our teams from the next—our professional baseball, football, and basketball franchises have morphed into a single, monolithic, dream-crushing, championship-swallowing monstrosity that simply must be stopped. “I hate the Red Sox,” a sports fan from New York told the Washington Post in a story about the Super Bowl. “I hate all sports teams from Boston. They can go to hell.”

Oh, to bottle for the toasting of future championships this kind of uncontrollable rage, this teeth-grinding disgust, to roll it into leaves for the stuffing of endless victory cigars! For we in Boston understand such irrational hatred. It comes with knowing you’re outclassed, and we choked on it for decades. The feeling of insecurity, of powerlessness, is such that you actually begin to believe things that are objectively not true. As when, say, you somehow find yourself in control of the Yankees after years as a breeder of horses, and, for whatever reason, decide to tell a national magazine something like this:

“Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of shit that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.”

For the record, the top-drawing road team in baseball last year—as good a measure as there is of a club’s national appeal—was your World Champion Boston Red Sox.

After the 2004 title, with people across the country unable to resist the story of the lovable losers who finally became champions, the Red Sox briefly became America’s team. But a nation’s pity will not restore a city’s pride. Notes of congratulation from friends back then did nothing to heal the memory of a Red Sox game I’d attended the year before at Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. As I walked to my car after that game, wearing my B-emblazoned cap, a passing truck honked in solidarity. When I looked up and waved, though, it turned out to be a group of Yankees fans, jeering and hollering from their open windows, “Boston sucks!” What could I say? What reply, in the face of 86 years of futility, was there to this humiliation?

Five years later, in the middle of a run of success so unfathomable it has reduced the owner of the Yankees to incoherent ravings, we are all redeemed. —J.W.

18. The New Indie Rock Concerts at the MFA

The hottest rock venue in town, the one with the most in-demand and memorable shows? Try the 380-seat Remis Auditorium at the Museum of Fine Arts. Since 2002, the Remis has played host to bands like Mountain Goats, Vampire Weekend, Taken by Trees, and Xiu Xiu. During an unforgettable gig last year by indie darlings Spoon, one intoxicated young woman crawled atop the stage at the august institution and turned it into her own personal catwalk, strutting and shaking what she had to shake. Not the kind of performance art you’d expect from the museum, but it was undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser, all the same. —Paul Kix

We Love This Town Because…

19. If Rachael Ray has anything to say about it, America will run on Dunkin’, goddamn it.

20. Even though the Charlie Card machines always break down when you need to refill your pass on the first of the month, that’s not enough to dull the thrill you still get from the fact that you don’t have to take the card out of your wallet to pay your fare.

21. Harvard sex blogger Lena Chen of won’t graduate for another year.

22. It’s almost warm enough for the mayor to start riding his bike again.

joe travassos

Photograph by Yeheshua Johnson

A Bostonian we love (and what he loves about Boston)

23. Joe Travassos, 41, window washer

Joe Travassos will pitch in on just about any chore around the house, but he won’t wash windows. Nobody, after all, likes to take their work home with them.

Travassos spends his days suspended 790 feet above the ground, meticulously scrubbing the 10,366 windows that make up the exterior of the John Hancock Tower. Starting next month, he and a partner, employees of a company called PureView, will devote 34 workdays to giving the Hancock its annual spring cleaning, then move on to other local buildings before returning to the skyscraper for its second polishing in the fall. Though Travassos has been tending to the tower for a decade, he still finds plenty about the job to keep him motivated: the sunrise over Eastie (#24); the way he can occasionally catch a glimpse of the stands at Fenway (#25); and how “on beautiful, cloudy days, the glass is like a mirror (#26).” —Francis Storrs


Illustration by Kagan McLeod

27. Cast-off (and Cut-rate) Fashions

It’s not that we’re averse to fads around here, we’re just a little…dubious when the runway reports tell us that we must, must get ourselves a new pair of 8-inch, open-toe, platform wedge booties, or dress the guys in our lives in those absurd men’s leggings. So while Boston certainly ranks as a stylish city, we’re not particularly trendy. And that turns out to be good news for the genuinely sartorially adventurous among us—because that combination also works out to make Boston the best city in the country for high-end fashion bargains. Drawn by the area’s affluence, luxury retailers like Barneys, Nordstrom, and Neiman Marcus keep opening new stores in the region, which means endless supplies of the latest Jimmy Choo pumps, Chanel clutches, and Chloé peasant tops. But in a market skeptical of the hippest threads, these stores are also forced to constantly slash prices to create room for next season’s styles. The result is overflowing upscale clearance bins and racks filled with scores (and here we speak from personal experience) like fabulous gold Prada flats that’ll set you back less than your weekly Starbucks allowance. —Rachel Baker


Illustration by Kagan McLeod

28. We Do Know How to Drive, Thank You Very Much

After enduring decades of undue ridicule as the world’s most dangerously honked-off motorists, Bostonians can at last flip our critics a well-justified bird. Fresh stats show our state actually has the nation’s lowest rate of auto deaths. Now maybe we’ll get our shot at dethroning the good people of Sioux Falls as “America’s Best Drivers,” a title bestowed by insurance giant Allstate. Pardon our golf clap, South Dakotans. You may not run yellows or bang ueys (nigh impossible on a tractor, anyway), but you also don’t face the adversity that forges truly great drivers: rain-slicked trolley tracks, feckless double-parkers, pedestrians springing from the curb like impala. We do, every day, and we do it impressively well. If not, perhaps, impressively politely. —J. L. Johnson

29. Hollywood Is Back for More

With Shutter Island (the latest Scorsese epic), Ghosts of Girlfriends Past (Matthew McConaughey), The Surrogates (Bruce Willis), and The Proposal (Sandra Bullock) shooting here this year and more projects reportedly on the way, it seems certain Boston will top the record number of movies filmed around town in 2007. We’re going to have to get used to this Tinseltown-on-the-Charles thing. —F.S.


Photograph by Jill Greenberg

A Bostonian we love (and what he loves about Boston)

30. John Krasinski, 28, actor

We cogs in the machine—and here in Boston, that’s more than half a million of us—know that you rarely get to pick your coworkers or, for that matter, your cubicle neighbors. There’s always going to be the loud talker, the weird eater, the social butterfly who spends her days flitting from one desk to the next. Barely 8 inches separate me, for instance, from a guy who frequently chuckles to himself, and can spend hours tossing a baseball up and down. Once I thought I heard him fart. (Maybe he’s heard me, too.)

Perhaps our desk-bound existences—and the fact that we’re a town of cynics—explain Boston’s particular affinity for NBC’s hit sitcom The Office (returning this month, post-strike), in which an ensemble cast of paper-pushers deal with one another’s quirks, most of them annoying. As Jim, the amiable, moderately ambitious voice of reason, John Krasinski—who can also be seen starring this month opposite Renée Zellweger in the new Clooney-directed, football-themed romantic comedy Leatherheads—calls on dry wit and a cache of goofy looks to express the disdain he feels for his more ridiculous office-mates. Whether confined in our own offices, stranded on the Expressway, or wedged onto the Green Line, we can relate to his perpetual exasperation: It’s not me, it’s the other guy.

Of course, Krasinski never actually had an office job. Growing up the youngest of three boys in Newton, where his parents still live (mom Mary Clare is a nurse; dad Ron is an internist), he spent his afterschool hours playing sports and his summers counseling 12-year-olds at Camp Chickami in Wayland. He was the good boy—did well enough at competitive Newton South High School to get into Brown, didn’t really date, and generally behaved himself. “I was probably a wuss,” he admits. I feign surprise. “Yeah. I never wanted to get into trouble. Like on Halloween, if my friends were like, ‘Let’s go egg blah-blah-blah,’ I’d be like, ‘Aww man, I’m sick, I gotta go home.'”

Over breakfast, Krasinski works the just-rolled-out-of-bed look: shaggy hair damp on the ends, hooded sweatshirt, scruff. He’s just heard he’s nabbed the lead role in an as-yet-untitled Sam Mendes movie penned by author Dave Eggers, and we celebrate with camera-friendly egg whites and avocado (for him) and desk chair–friendly oatmeal (for me). “When someone tells me they’re from Boston, there’s a whole other level of connection (#31),” he says, and I don’t believe he’s making a pass. “It’s like you don’t have to start with commonality. You’re just like, ‘Oh, you’re from Boston?’ Got it.” He was raised on the Celtics (#32) and the Pats (#33), a love that’s gotten easier to pursue since he became famous: In February, he and his dad caught the Super Bowl in Phoenix (“You can’t just blame one person,” he says, then silently mouths, “Gisele!”), and over Thanksgiving, he attended a Lakers-Celtics game. “When I was in high school, those games were so boring,” he says. “Now, every single little kid has a Celtics shirt on, everybody is screaming at the top of their lungs, Donnie Wahlberg’s there freaking out (#34). It made me feel really proud, which I didn’t expect.”

What he has come to expect is that people are paying attention. “Every once in a while, a picture will show up of me eating lunch with my buddy, or getting out of my car in my own driveway,” he says, then scans the room. For a brief moment in time—a week, really—Krasinski and the arguably better-looking and definitely much better-paid Zellweger were a tabloid item, victims of a paparazzi manipulation. “Our entire cast was going out together, but they just showed me and her,” he says of the Us Weekly story. “You know, I really made out like a bandit there. I got the better end of that deal for sure.” —Alyssa Giacobbe


From left, Menino, Flaherty, Martin, Tobin

35. We May Actually Have a Real Mayoral Race Next Year

Mayor-for-life Tom Menino will give up his job when an asteroid levels City Hall and at last unseats him from power. That, at any rate, is how it’s often appeared in the first century of his administration. Throughout his reign, Hizzoner has never faced a credible challenger; Maura Hennigan, for example, had a better chance of de-throning Kim Jong Il.

Suddenly, though, it may be that all it takes to remove Menino from the job is an election. City Councilor Mike Flaherty, the one-time ally who’s been slamming the mayor all over town lately, is looking like a formidable opponent. Another dangerous challenger, Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce boss Ralph Martin, is quietly building his organization. Others, including charismatic City Councilor John Tobin of West Roxbury, smell blood in the water as well. And they’re all doing what not long ago would have been inconceivable: publicly, or pretty close to it, weighing whether they want a piece of this, too.

With the city in the middle of significant change, it’s about time that Menino was forced to defend himself and his vision against real competition. There’s a creeping sense of Menino Fatigue in the air, and the public, given a viable choice, might just decide to break with the pettiness, ego, and defensiveness that have accompanied the prosperity and accomplishment of the Menino years. This is Boston, after all: Maybe we’re ready to indulge someone else’s pettiness, ego, and defensiveness. —Joe Keohane

charles coe

Photograph by yeheshua johnson

A Bostonian we love (and what he loves about Boston)

36. Charles Coe, 55, writer

He’s one of the finest poets in a place with more than its share, a tireless advocate for the arts, and an honest-to-goodness larger-than-life character. But Cambridge’s Charles Coe would make our list simply for the parties he throws. Endless food and drink, fascinating people, and something called the Garlic Orgy. What’s not to love?

Born in Indiana, Coe banged around as a musician in Nashville and New Jersey before settling in Cambridge in ’75. When not writing or delivering the best readings in town, he works for the Massachusetts Cultural Council. “The thing about Boston,” he says, “is that people develop this interior life (#37)—because you’ve got to be inside four or five months of the year.” Coe figures it’s these winter-haunted cerebral types that account for Boston’s literary scene. “I’m a big fan of the independent bookstores,” he says.

“I love Brookline Booksmith (#38). I like McIntyre and Moore (#39) in Porter Square.”

Of course, as we’re always told, all that time spent pondering heavy thoughts can make for an occasionally cold and unapproachable citizenry. At least at first. Coe recalls being startled during a visit to a San Diego café. A woman approached—”she gets her eggplant radicchio latte or whatever”—and [gasp] started a conversation. “I was reminded, ‘Oh yeah, I’m in Southern California.’ In Boston, people are crusty and take time to open up to you, but once they do, it’s solid. It’s real (#40).” —J.K.

We Love This Town Because…

41. In this city, there’s a good chance your family doctor is a bestselling author, too.

42. Hoodsies!

43. When homeless icon Mr. Butch died, nearly 1,000 people turned out for his memorial.

44. In addition to its unrivaled beer selection, Bukowski’s has the peanut butter burger, the best thing since the PB & bacon sandwiches Mom served you.

45. Danny Ainge didn’t give up, even when most of us had given up on him.

boston globe

Illustration by Kagan McLeod

46. Our Better-Than-We-Give-It-Credit-For Paper of Record

You know the bad news: circulation spiraling; foreign bureaus shuttered; columnists (particularly ones with curly red hair) short on fresh ideas; several rounds of debilitating buyouts; and now the departure of ace business scribe Steve Bailey, along with two high-ranking editors. But the truth of the matter is, the Globe continues to put out a damn good newspaper seven days a week. The peerless Charlie Savage recently captured a Pulitzer for writing the kind of probing investigative stories you don’t get out of Washington anymore. The paper’s reporting on Mitt Romney’s failed run for the presidency was exemplary (no surprise, given its pack-leading and uncompromising treatment of John Kerry’s candidacy in 2004). And new metro editor Brian McGrory has even managed to add kick and color to the paper’s long-drowsy city coverage. Love to hate it, sure, but the Globe remains one of the finest dailies anywhere. —Jason Schwartz


A rendering of the future Boston waterfront, our next great neighborhood. / The Fallon Company/Neoscape

47. Construction Sites Rising (Finally) on the South Boston 

Over the coming decade, Bostonians will witness that rarest of things in a centuries-old city: the birth of an entirely new neighborhood. Concrete and steel will spread across an enormous swath of the South Boston waterfront, eventually to be wrapped in a skin of shining glass. In time, the crews of construction workers will give way to a steady flow of neighbors and coworkers inhabiting a vibrant and wholly new district.

Political and financial obstacles have thwarted previous development on the waterfront, leaving it famously gaping and barren, a potential paradise sitting underutilized as a giant parking lot. But in the failures of the past lies today’s opportunity. Waterfront land allows creation from the bottom up, without the messy immoralities of building atop someone else’s memories (much less their historic commission–protected architecture). Developers John B. Hynes III, Joe Fallon, and John Drew are prepping dozens of buildings and more than 10 million square feet of shopping, hotel, office, and condo space, and ground has already been broken on Fallon’s Fan Pier, an eight-building project that hugs the harbor. Forget the West End: Bostonians haven’t seen such activity since the swamps of the Charles were filled in the mid-1800s. We’re changing our boundaries, updating our maps—a new frontier in an old city, ready for rediscovery. —Jason Feifer


a. Simmons Hall, MIT. b. Institute for Contemporary Art, South Boston. c. Genzyme, Cambridge. d. Macallen Building, South Boston. e. WGBH, Brighton. f. Lulu Chow Wang Campus Center, Wellesley College. g. Liberty Hotel. h. Boston Public Library, Honan-Allston branch. i. Boston Children’s Museum. j. Artists for Humanity Epi- Center, South Boston. k. Manulife Tower, South Boston. l. Orchard Gardens Elementary School, Roxbury. m. Loft23, University Park, Cambridge. n. Glavin Family Chapel, Babson College. o. College of Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University. p. Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge.

48. At Last, Modern Architecture Worth Flaunting

Contrary to public perception, the 1960s and ’70s were actually a fruitful time in Boston for hip, theoretical architecture. To most residents back then, though, hip and theoretical translated to “ghastly”—especially when it came to modern landmarks like the hulking City Hall and the bunker-style Peabody Terrace. After a flurry of such buildings arrived all at once, a traumatized public spent the next 30 or so years rallying against any architecture that smelled even remotely nontraditional. Today, however, we’ve begun to recover from our collective PTSD, ushering in a new era that’s reminding the world (and ourselves) that there’s room in Boston for more than stately brick. —Rachel Levitt


Photograph by yeheshua johnson

A Bostonian we love (and what he loves about Boston)

49. Barbara Quintiliani, 30, soprano

An opera singer’s voice tends to mature around the time of midlife crisis. This explains why the Washington Post is still predicting “a significant operatic career” for Barbara Quintiliani, even though the 30-year-old Quincy resident has sung alongside Placido Domingo (who said she has “a voice of beauty”), and hobnobs with Ruth Bader Ginsburg and the Prince of Spain on her international tours. For all her, ahem, early success, however, Quintiliani remains easygoing and self-effacing, a diva who loves to shoot pool—that perfect Boston mix of marvelous and modest.

“There is a real love for art and music here,” she says. “Boston is one of the most soulful cities in that way (#50).” Not that performing here isn’t a challenge. “It’s not like I’m in Sheboygan,” she says. “To have an audience here embrace you is a big
deal. They’re very conservative with applause.” Of all the places she’s sung, Quintiliani lists the New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall (#51) as tops. “It’s intimate, and at the same time very glamorous. It’s a very friendly place to a voice.” —J.F.

We Love This Town Because…

52. You can still pick up an “Italian Stallion” T-shirt during the North End’s summer street festivals.

53. The Red Sox have finally removed those godawful Coke bottles from Fenway.

54. Regular drag nights at swank South End lounge 28 Degrees are giving cross-dressing cabaret stalwart Jacques a run for its money.

55. The jukebox at Charlie’s Kitchen.

56. Any Bostonian miraculously at a loss for impolite words can now turn to brilliant local slang linguist and author A. C. Kemp’s handy new guide, The Perfect Insult for Every Occasion.

57. Eight years after the death of its adored polar bear Major, the Stone Zoo is bringing back the Ursidae family, introducing a pair of brother black bears this spring.

58. Uniting Beacon Hill under one-party rule did nothing to curb the always-thrilling political blood sport.

59. Taking a break from saving the planet, MIT has delivered the Catsup Crapper, which its inventors describe as “the first ketchup bottle to roller-skate to your plate and excrete a pleasant mound of condiment” on whatever needs to be covered in Heinz 57.

60. The next time a couple of art students attach light boards to bridges all over town, we’ll take it in stride.

red sox

Photograph by michael ivins/boston red sox

61. The Sox’s Fountain of Youth

Okay, so adding Johan Santana would have guaranteed the Red Sox another, oh, three or four championships. But what’s the fun in winning that way? These days, the Sox would rather develop their prospects than trade them for established stars—and we couldn’t be happier. It gets us weak in the knees just dreaming of Jacoby Ellsbury patrolling center field for the next decade, Dustin Pedroia giving hope to 5-foot-2 guys across New England, and Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester delivering a Cy Young Award or two. If the Sox have proved anything in the past few years, after all, it’s that there’s more than one way to build a World Series winner. —Paul Flannery

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