A Year in Review: The Most Memorable Moments of 2017

Ups and downs and major changes took our city by storm.

A woman holding a poster that says "I am woman, hear me roar"

The 2017 Women’s March on Boston Common. / Photo by Madeline Bilis

Thousands Gather at the Boston Women’s March

We all recall that 2017 kicked off in a less than ideal fashion, no? On January 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, though, things took on a more encouraging note when upwards of 100,000 citizens in Boston and over seven million worldwide took to the streets carrying signs, belting out chants, and donning “pussyhats” to advocate for women’s and reproductive rights, as well as for equality and tolerance more generally, while taking clear aim at the newly sworn-in president. Local speakers included Mayor Marty Walsh, Sen. Ed Markey, Attorney General Maura Healey, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who rallied the crowd declaring, “We can whimper. We can whine. Or we can fight back!” Another moment worth remembering: two days before the march, the Public Garden’s famous Mrs. Mallard and the rest of the Make Way for Ducklings statues were also outfitted with the now iconic pink “pussyhats.”

Mayor Walsh Reaffirms Boston’s Sanctuary City Role

On his first week in office (yes, though this may seem like decades ago, it was in fact just under three years ago) Trump brought us the “Muslim ban”: the executive order that prohibited all refugees from entering the country for 120 days, blocked all Syrian refugees from the U.S. indefinitely, and suspended entry of travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen for 90 days. Just before issuing that order, though, the administration made another stand, vowing to cut federal funds from so-called “sanctuary cities,” which refuse to cooperate with federal immigration authorities in locating and deporting immigrants. The President’s order stated that these cities “have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.” That same day, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone gathered in a press conference at City Hall to respond, affirming Boston’s commitment to protecting undocumented immigrants. “We will continue to foster trusting relationships between law enforcement and the immigrant community, and we will not waste vital police resources on misguided federal actions. We will not be intimidated by the threat to federal funding,” Walsh said. “We have each other’s backs, and we have the Constitution of the United States of America on our side.”

Massachusetts Is Dubbed the Best State in the Country

While you were complaining about the T and contemplating moving to a state with more predictable weather patterns, U.S. News & World Report was busy tallying up reasons why 2017 was a great time to be a Bay Stater. “Its vibrant academic environment, innovative and supportive health care policies and modernizing economy, measure for measure, make this small New England powerhouse with a population of 6.8 million the strongest state of all,” the publication noted when it awarded Massachusetts the top honor in the first of its now-annual “best state” rankings, which are informed by metrics collected in healthcare, education, crime, infrastructure, opportunity, economy, and government. In addition to its number one position overall, Massachusetts also came out on top in education and second in the healthcare category. “Massachusetts is a great place to live, work and raise a family because of the strength and character of all those who call the Commonwealth home,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement reacting to the award. “Everyone should be proud that Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in health care access and public education for all citizens, and our administration will continue to build on these accomplishments to bring more economic success to every corner of Massachusetts.”

Tom Brady Julian Edelman

Image via AP

Patriots Win Super Bowl LI in Major Comeback

It’s the third quarter of the game. The Patriots trail the Atlanta Falcons by 25 points, Tom Brady is already being annihilated on Twitter, and Pats fans across the country are burying their faces in their hands. Cue the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI, and everything changed almost as if by magic. By the time 58 seconds of play remained on the clock, the game was tied at 28-28. The team that hadn’t scored a single touchdown until the game’s second half then won in overtime, beating the Falcons 34-28, with help from two consecutive two point conversions, an unbelievable Julian Edelman catch, a touchdown from James White to put them ahead, and Tom Brady, well, finally giving us what we expect from Tom Brady. Two days later, the team hopped aboard their duck boat caravan to celebrate the team’s fifth Super Bowl win, the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history, and the first ever Super Bowl decided in overtime. Someone who had less of a blast at the victory parade: Charlie Baker, who was booed by the crowd at City Hall Plaza when Mayor Marty Walsh welcomed him to the microphone. The icy reception toward the governor followed criticism for being MIA at the Boston Women’s March, as well as at protests against the Muslim ban in Copley Square (albeit for a funeral, Baker later stated).

The South End Open Market / Photo by Sarah Fisher

The South End Open Market Says Goodbye

You might already have forgotten that the SoWa Open Market of today is not the original. The South End’s first artisanal market (in the same location, but not with the same owners) actually pitched its tents 2004, but things came crashing down in 2015 thanks to a bitter feud between the market’s organizer, Chris Masci, of New England Open Markets LLC, and the owner of the property, Mario Nicosia of GTI Properties Inc. The two parties split ways that year, but Masci vowed to keep his market alive, partnering with National Development on a new market: the South End Open Market. The new concept debuted on May 1, 2016 near Ink Block, the same day that Nicosia and GTI Properties opened SoWa Open Market, in the same spot it is today, and where Masci previously stationed his vendors. The following year the South End Open Market was supposed to move to Ink Underground, a new park located beneath the I-93 overpass, for the summer of 2017, but in April, Masci unexpectedly announced his market was calling it quits due to competition and overall confusion surrounding the new market. Prior to the news, several vendors had also defected from Masci’s South End Open Market to Nicosia’s SoWa Open Market. “We had built up a customer base over 13 years, and we only had six months to get the message about the new location out there and retrain people,” Masci told the Globe. “They just didn’t get it.”

Boston Calling Field

Boston Calling 2017/ Photo by Lisa Weidenfeld

Boston Calling Moves to Allston

On Memorial Day weekend, the 3-day festival bid farewell to the brick and concrete of City Hall Plaza and moved west to 16 acres of astroturf at Harvard University’s Athletics Complex. “Since 2013, we have enjoyed three successful years and six festivals at City Hall Plaza,” Boston Calling cofounder Brian Appel said in a statement when the move was first announced in May 2016. “We are so grateful to have had the opportunity to call City Hall the festival’s home. This change of location will allow us to expand and enrich Boston Calling while still keeping it proudly located in Boston.” In addition to the boom in acreage, the festival also grew from two stages to three, and expanded its lineup to 45 musical acts, including headliners Tool, Chance the Rapper, and Mumford & Sons, as well as 12 comedians, including Tig Notaro, Pete Holmes, and Hannibal Buress. Festival designer Russ Bennett (who also worked on Bonnaroo) mapped out Boston Calling’s new layout, which featured additional food and beverage vendors, and a Ferris wheel offering views of the entire festival and the city skyline beyond.

Michelle Carter in a courtroom

Michelle Carter / Photo via AP/Charles Krupa

Michelle Carter Found Guilty in Suicide Texting Case

Michelle Carter, the then 17-year-old Plainville teenager who encouraged her boyfriend Conrad Roy III to commit suicide in 2014 over text message, was brought to trial on June 5, 2017, over two years after she was charged. After waiving the right to trial by jury the day before the proceedings began at the Bristol County Juvenile Court in Taunton, Carter’s fate would be determined by Judge Lawrence Moniz. On June 16, Judge Moniz found Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter, deciding that prosecutors had proved beyond a reasonable doubt that she was responsible for Roy’s death. In August, Moniz sentenced Carter to 2 1/2 years in prison, 15 months of which she’d have to serve. The case drew international attention and also spurred a two-part HBO documentary I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth V. Michelle Carter. It also set a new legal precedent that words alone result in culpability for another’s suicide. Carter has continued to appeal the case while currently serving her sentence, with the latest round potentially headed to the Supreme Court.

Boston's Holocaust Memorial

Photo by Lloyd Mallison

Boston Holocaust Memorial Smashed Twice

Instances of intolerance and discrimination made headlines across the country in 2017, and hate reared its head right at home too, when the the New England Holocaust Memorial, erected in 1995 near Faneuil Hall, was vandalized twice in one summer. The first incident was on June 28, when 21-year-old James Isaac of Roxbury allegedly smashed one of the memorial’s nine foot glass panels with a rock. Isaac was charged with destruction of property and civil rights violations, and the panel was replaced (for the first time in 20 years) and rededicated two weeks later. Officials and community leaders, including Marty Walsh and the Anti-Defamation League of New England, condemned the incident, but less than two months later, on August 17 (at the same time that vigils, rallies, and marches were taking place around city in the wake of violence in Charlottesville that left three dead) a 17-year old from Malden once again threw a rock at the memorial. The suspect was tackled and restrained by a Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent and Boston firefighter, both off duty, and later taken into custody by police. According to the memorial’s website, the monument “was built as a beacon of memory and hope, inviting all visitors to reflect on the impact of bigotry and to resolve to combat all forms of oppression.”
Boston free speech rally

The Free Speech Rally protests. / Photo by Lisa Weidenfeld

Counter-Protesters Outnumber Free Speech Rally Attendees

When the Boston Free Speech Coalition, a group of predominately young, male, and white free speech advocates labeled by civil rights groups as “alt-lite,” planned a rally for the Boston Common on August 19, it gained widespread attention across the country due to concerns that it might attract white nationalists akin to those who had recently gathered in Charlottesville to tragic ends. While hundreds indicated on Facebook that they planned to attend the rally, on the day of, only about 50 people showed up on the Common’s Parkman Bandstand. An estimated 40,000 others, however, gathered to protest against the rally, congregating all the way from the Reggie Lewis Center on Tremont Street in Roxbury to the Common, as well as at the State House. Several right-wing speakers were also meant to address the crowd, but ultimately only Republican Senate candidate Shiva Ayyadurai took to a megaphone, denouncing those who associated the rally with white nationalists as “fake news.” Around 1 p.m., an hour before the rally was originally set to end, the free speech demonstrators were led by police escort past counter-protestors and into protective custody. By the end of the event, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans reported that only a few minor injuries occurred and no significant property damage had taken place. 33 arrests were made related to disorderly conduct and assaults on police. At 2:22 that afternoon, President Trump took to Twitter to comment on the events, stating, “Looks like many anti-police agitators in Boston. Police are looking tough and smart! Thank you,” adding seven minutes later, “Great job by all law enforcement officers and Boston Mayor [Marty Walsh].”

Dunkin’ Donuts Starts the Transition to Dunkin

The Canton-based company made waves in August 2017 when Nation’s Restaurant News reported that the brand was experimenting with dropping the “Donuts” from its name at a new Pasadena, California location. “While we remain the number one retailer of donuts in the country, as part of our efforts to reinforce that Dunkin’ Donuts is a beverage-led brand and coffee leader, we will be testing signage in a few locations that refer to the brand simply as “Dunkin’,” the company said in a statement shared with the publication. The brand indicated they would be bringing the streamlined moniker to other locations as well, and, as promised, in December, the global chain opened Boston’s first “Dunkin'” on Tremont Street next to Boston Common. It also planned another for Quincy, where the company was founded. While the chain did not state whether the move would result in a permanent name change at the time, in September 2018, the company made things official and did away with “Donuts” for good.

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