Then and Now: Menino’s Boston

Have you blocked out what the city looked like 20 years ago? Peter Vanderwarker’s photos recall Boston before the Big Dig.

By the Numbers

How has Boston changed since Menino first took office? Let us count the ways. —By Loren Savini

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Racial Composition: From 2010 U.S. Census. Participants in the census were permitted to select more than one identifying race, therefore the percentages add up to more than 100 percent. Violent-Crime Rate: Crimes committed per 100,000 people.



Office Space: Supplied by Colliers International, these numbers reflect only major commercial space, and do not include institutions, nonprofits, and small businesses. Convention Space: Reflects only square footage in Boston owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

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For more of our look back at Mayor Menino’s time in office, check out “A Mayor in Full.”

  • Suzy Peabody

    there’s a part of me that misses it; I loved zooming through and above the city. and it was gritty. and badass.

    • LindengoneSalem

      Before when you were stuck in traffic you had a great view of the Harbor. Now all you can see is the car in front of you and grimy tile walls. Progress I tell ya!

  • disqus_gDRPgomazn

    I completely miss it. The Big Dig had just begun when I moved here, but I found the elevated Central Artery fascinating-under, over, and along-a real symbol of an urban city and the commute to it and through it. I worked on Portland Street, just off Causeway, with the elevated Green and Orange Lines and the old Garden. The newer pink Registry of Motor Vehicles building was just beyond. The restaurants and bars had Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito autographed photos. Coming from Ontario I couldn’t believe it-it was so great to see these famous hockey players I remembered from childhood. I saw the movie Malcolm X the other night and the opening scene, shot on Causeway St. with the Woolworth’s store, in 1992, stopped me in my tracks. I keep playing it over and over. Wow, is all I can say. The vacuous, unstylish emptiness that now replaces the overhead artery, almost seems like an attempt to forget the lives and struggles people had all those years. I never thought I would feel this way, but I find the Big Dig changes a huge disappointment, above ground. Very poor granite detailing and landscape features for such a traditional city. Thee traffic flow is mostly improved but not nearly as exciting.

  • Pedro Carvalho

    Great work on the transformation. People must get that the city mobility can’t depend on individual cars. Advanced cities has a good public transportation like NYC, Berlin and many others…
    There should’t be no traffic. That’s the point.

  • David Kronner

    I wonder how big hurricanes like katrina given it’s near proximity to the harbor have effected the “Big dig”?

  • Nathalie Murk

    The less car traffic – the more comfortable place you get. Bravo, Boston!

  • Westerlies

    Make transit part of the deal

  • Janey04090

    It was better in the 1980s. That long tunnel under Boston is a nightmare.

  • Dane

    Hope no more tiles fall