Boston After Dark
Ah Boston, the city has a few tricks left yet, huh? In case you haven’t heard, or have been just totally in the dark (get it?), yesterday afternoon a fire broke out in two Back Bay transformers, sending black smoke billowing above the city and, by evening, wiping out power across the Back Bay, South End, Kenmore Square, Theater District, and Chinatown. Parts of the Pike and Mass. Ave were shut down, while street and traffic lights, not to mention the Pru and John Hancock buildings, went dark. Per the Globe, 20,000 electricity customers lost power last night and 13,000 remain powerless today. Mixed in with all this were reports that the smoke was toxic. Those reports proved, thankfully, to be incorrect.
Boston magazine World Headquarters, of course, was at the nexus of all the action, located as we are just a block or two from the Scotia Street transformer building where the fire started. (Honestly, I’ve passed by that building about 1,000 times and always wondered what goes on inside. Now I know: Very bad things.) Walking around the area last night was just eerie. People were all over, trying to figure out where they should go and how to get there. Yet the darkness made for a strange calm, added to by the absence of cars. Look, I even took photos!
Here’s what Mass Ave. at Westland alongside the Christian Science Plaza looked like at 7:45 last night. Lots of parking available!
And here’s a police truck blocking access to Mass Ave. at Huntington:
Because pretty much every T station nearby was closed, it was, you know, hard to go anywhere. That was unfortunate, since everybody thought the area was being filled with toxic smoke. Good times! The best way out for many — at least the folks who usually take the Orange Line from the Mass Ave. stop — was to walk down the Southwest Corridor to Back Bay station, which was still open. Under normal circumstances, the corridor feels somewhat secluded at night, and with all the lights out, it was basically pitch black. Here is a picture of all the people trudging through on their way to Back Bay station. It should illustrate not only just how dark it was, but also how my camera could really use a better flash:
Perhaps strangest of all was the skyscrapers going dark. Here’s the Pru and 111 Huntington, totally dark except for the Prudential Building’s lettering. (An aside: Who made the decision that, when the entire tower loses electricity, the one thing we want to make sure we keep going is the giant lettering outside? Screw the offices, screw the bathrooms, screw the stairwells, we need to make sure people can read Prudential from miles away!)
So there you have it: Boston in the dark. As costly as the fires were, as big a pain as it is for the thousands without power, and despite how much money this whole debacle will cost the city, I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a little bit fun to walk around the city in the dark like this. Hopefully, though, it’s not fun that we have too often.