When Isabella died in 1924, she wanted her mansion and its art collection to be enjoyed by the public forever. In order to keep that dream alive, the museum raised $100 million for a new wing, which was unveiled on January 19. The new 80,000 square foot building connects to the original via a glass corridor and houses new space for classrooms, a library, and a music venue. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano, it took two and a half years to construct, and a large portion of the façade is now used to display rotating works from the museum’s artist-in-residence program.
Fenway Park almost didn’t make it to its landmark 100th birthday. In the 1990s, the ownership at the time proposed demolishing the park and building a new one on the south Boston waterfront. They claimed they needed more space for new seats and an updated infrastructure. As one can imagine, the city went bananas over the idea that their cathedral would be torn down. All that outrage and all those “Save Fenway Park” bumper stickers worked, because the ballpark remained and on April 20, a nostalgic game was played between the Red Sox and the Yankees, the very two teams who faced off on that day 100 years before. The two teams wore retro uniforms from the early 1900s, and rumor had it that some fans paid upwards of $1,000 a ticket to be there.
President Barack Obama finally endorsed same-sex marriage on Wednesday, May 9 in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, eight years after Massachusetts legalized it. In doing so, he became the first U.S. president to defend civil rights for gay people on such a grand scale. His declaration came at a time when many states were moving to either ban or decriminalize same-sex unions. We wonder what the heck took him so long, but apparently even really brainy guys can take a while to make the smart choice.
Donna Summer, the Queen of Disco, lost her fight against lung cancer on May 17 at the much too young age of 63. Born LaDonna Adrian Gaines, she grew up one of seven children in Mission Hill and first wowed a crowd with her 10-year old voice when she sang for a vocalist who didn’t show at church. She went on to perform in musicals at Jeremiah E. Burke High School in Dorchester, but left Boston to join a rock band in New York City right before graduation. She soon landed a role in the Munich production of Hair and eventually went on to record acclaimed albums through a fruitful partnership with German producer Giorgio Moroder. The five-time Grammy Award winner sold over 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time.
The captain of the “Fierce Five” artistic gymnastics team, Raisman won two gold medals, one for the team and one for the floor competition, as well as a bronze medal for her balance beam routine at the Olympics in London, making her the most decorated American gymnast at the Games. She also became the first American to win a gold medal for the floor competition. She would soon return to the podium once more at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Jameiro to accept a gold medal in the team event, and silver medals for individual all-around and her floor exercise. Raisman’s almost superhuman athleticism, we soon learned, really plays second fiddle to her courage and spirit, for which there are not enough medals in the world.
We almost had a modern-day Grace Kelly moment when pop star Taylor Swift was seen making out with American royalty Conor Kennedy. And although the relationship only lasted from July until October, it was long enough for us to get our hopes up, especially when Swift bought a $4.9 million beach house in Hyannisport across the street from the iconic Kennedy compound. The seven bedroom, five bathroom home overlooking the Nantucket sound was sold quickly after the relationship fizzled. But it seems Swift did in fact fall in love—not with Kennedy, but with the east coast. She bought a $17 million home in Watch Hill, Rhode Island soon afterwards, which she still owns today.
Annie Dookhan, a chemist at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Drug of Abuse lab, was arrested for falsifying evidence that affected more than 34,000 court cases and potentially led to the false convictions of as many as 40,000 people. An officer at the lab first noticed that Dookhan had tested 95 samples without properly signing them out. District attorneys were told of the breach in protocol, and after being placed on administrative leave, Dookhan resigned in March. She was later arrested and admitted to faking lab test results, as in one case where she actually physically added cocaine to samples. It was also later discovered that she had lied on her resume, saying she had a master’s degree in chemistry from UMass Boston, when she in fact had never taken any master’s level classes there. Dookhan ultimately served a four-year prison sentence.
On the morning of Monday, October 29, as Hurricane Sandy was making her way to the east coast, the city was buzzing with excitement. Blizzards are like Wahlbergs to us: Live here long enough and you’ll see one. But hurricanes are like Ben Affleck, unpredictable and infrequent. Businesses and schools were closed, Governor Deval Patrick called a state of emergency, and the last trains for the day left stations shortly after 2 p.m. As day turned to evening, we saw strong winds, people lost power and there was flooding along the coast, but no major damage. It turned out to be a pretty routine storm, by our standards. As night fell, though, news of the catastrophic destruction in New Jersey and New York City was taking over our news feeds and Bostonians, worried for our friends and neighbors to the south, realized we’d take a Wahlberg over an Affleck any day.
In hindsight, he ain’t that bad. But when Mitt Romney teamed up with Paul Ryan to run against Barack Obama and Joe Biden, it was like an ex-boyfriend unexpectedly showing up at a dinner party. Like, we appreciate all that you did for us, what with the improved health care and all, but ultimately it didn’t work out and we’ve moved on. We’re involved with someone else now and although we want you to be happy, we need you to stop talking about our past. It was slightly embarrassing to see Romney lose the electoral college and the popular vote, but also, the state breathed a collective sigh of relief. And when he actually finally packed up his stuff and moved to Utah, we all got the closure we desperately needed.
It’s crazy to think that just nine short years earlier, in 2003, Massachusetts officials were celebrating their new title as the savior of the wild turkey, because they had brought the population back from near extinction to roughly 20,000. But apparently the turkeys got a little too full of themselves, because by 2007 the first calls from Brookline and Newton residents came, complaining of aggressive fowl behavior. The birds and the humans learned to live together like Craigslist roommates, co-existing with no hopes of becoming friends. Until late fall of 2012, when the turkeys attacked. Perhaps they had just been building their numbers and plotting their takeover all those years? The problem has only gotten worse, and the rebellious poultry recently became viral sensations on YouTube and the unofficial mascot of the tony suburbs.
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