Neighborhoods

On the Waterfront: An Oral History of the Seaport

The radical, imperfect, and unfinished transformation of Boston’s newest neighborhood.


A rendering of the St. Regis Residences Boston at 150 Seaport Boulevard, slated for completion next year. / St. Regis Residences, Boston/Elkus Manfredi Architects

A largely uninhabitable industrial zone built on landfill during the 1850s, the Seaport spent most of the 20th century as a vast wasteland of parking lots and abandoned wharfs. Even as two signature restaurants—Jimmy’s Harborside and Anthony’s Pier 4—first lured swarms of diners to the waterfront during the 1960s and ’70s, the neighborhood remained a desolate outpost of fishing piers and a few smoke-filled dive bars crawling with Southie mobsters.

Not anymore. Today, the Seaport is a soaring testament to the remarkable speed at which Boston has transformed and is transforming. In addition to the beloved Institute of Contemporary Art and the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, glittery condos, high-end retail, world-renowned nightclubs, and even, at long last, a Trader Joe’s have all emerged practically overnight.

Still, the Seaport is far from a finished product. The twin challenges of COVID-19 and climate change will surely usher in a new chapter for the city’s sleekest neighborhood—and possibly its most important one. This is the story of the Seaport, told by the people who shaped it—a tale of rowdy punks, squatting artists, visionary planners, bungled opportunities, and a future that remains unwritten.

Crowds gather to greet the fishermen at a wharf in 1890. / Corbis via Getty Images

I. An Unlikely Destination

Long before the gleaming skyscrapers and Teslas arrived, the Seaport first flickered to life during the 1960s thanks to a pair of fearless restaurateurs who threw open their doors for business.

Jim Vrabel, historian: After World War II, the fishing industry modernized and mechanized. Other than longshoremen and fishermen, the only reason people went down there was to go to the two restaurants. Jimmy’s Harborside had started in 1955, and then Anthony’s Pier 4 was the big one. It opened in 1963.

John Fish, chairman and CEO, Suffolk Construction: Anybody who lived in Boston went to Jimmy’s and Pier 4, whether it be for Easter, First Communion, or other celebrations. It was a Boston tradition. But when you’d go down there it was almost as if you were in a different world. You’d drive through these vacant parking lots with grass growing through asphalt cracks. You’d walk around the piers and see dead fish. And you’d see a lot of other things that weren’t that attractive floating in the water.

Joe Barry, valet, Anthony’s Pier 4: I started at Anthony’s in ’73. The neighborhood was the pits. Warehouses, a little chapel. A sub shop on Northern Avenue. There was a dive bar right at the foot of Pier 4, and another one by Jimmy’s. The road was cobblestone.

Harry Booras, cofounder, the Channel nightclub: When Anthony Athanas opened that place, people were telling him, “Oh, you’re right down the street from Jimmy’s Harborside, that place is always packed! What makes you think you can compete?” Anthony thought that was a big asset. He said, “No, no, it becomes a destination.” And he was right. He ended up surpassing Jimmy’s.

Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO, Legal Sea Foods: The one guy you really have to credit with putting the area on the map is Anthony Athanas. He was a great showman as a restaurateur.

Barry: The big attraction was the Peter Stuyvesant ship, which was moored next to Pier 4. It was a Hudson River dayliner that Anthony used as a cocktail lounge. People would wait two hours to have dinner in there, without a squeak. Anthony also had a double-decker bus: The parking lot was so big that he would pick people up at the far end. He was a perfectionist. You’d see him in the kitchen, in the lobby, going around to tables, out in the parking lot, greeting people at the ship. We had different celebrities come in by limo. Frank Sinatra, Richard Burton. Julia Child was in there occasionally. Lots of politicians.

Booras: Everybody was there, from Elizabeth Taylor to Speaker of the House John McCormack—you name it. They would always go in there and get their pictures taken with Anthony.

Plenty of parking along the piers, 1982. / Photo by Bob Dean/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Thomas O’Brien, founding partner of HYM  and former director of the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA): Us as a family, we never went out to eat. It was only a special-occasion thing, and my mother thought Pier 4 was the biggest deal. I remember looking around at the people at other tables holding menus, asking her, “Can I look at a menu? Can I decide what I want?” My mother wouldn’t let us. When the waiter came around she would look at me and my brothers and say, “He’ll have a hamburger, he’ll have a hamburger, he’ll have a hamburger.”

Scott Lindberg, Fort Point resident: During that same time, there was a dive bar across from Jimmy’s Harborside where Whitey Bulger took out one of his competitors. He shot him in the street.

Barry: We happened to be working that night. The police were all over the place. We didn’t hear the firing, but we heard the police cars afterward.

Christopher Sproat, sculptor: I was living in the Plant Shoe Factory in Jamaica Plain when the building burned down in 1976. I lost 15 years of work and all of my tools, everything other than what I was wearing. But I had a show coming up at MIT’s Hayden Gallery, so I needed a studio. Somebody let me know there was space available in Fort Point if I went and talked to the landlord, the Boston Wharf Company. They said, “Yeah, we have space, but you can’t live there.” I said okay. They showed me the top floor of 34 Farnsworth Street. You could see the harbor, see the sailing ships coming in.

Valerie Burns, Fort Point resident: During the late ’70s, a lot of small production was in the old buildings owned by the Boston Wharf Company. Woodworkers, a frame shop, book binders.

Marilyn Arsem, founder of Mobius, an experimental artists’ group: Only about 40 percent of the Boston Wharf spaces were occupied. It was mostly an industrial community at that point, a lot of office supply and printing companies. We performed at Helen Schlein Gallery in Fort Point in ’78. Ros Barron had an exhibition, Richard Lerman. Ellen Rothenberg was performing there. When we took over Helen’s gallery in ’83, we made it available to a lot of experimental artists in Boston doing dance, video, and sound art.

Burns: Fort Point didn’t feel neglected because it was a place where a community of artists was coming together. It was kind of a special time.

Sproat: I had just bought a mattress when the landlord from Boston Wharf staged a surprise visit. They looked at the mattress and gave me a look that said, “I didn’t see what I just saw.” So I built a workbench that was 16 feet long and about 12 feet wide. There was a secret panel on the bottom of this thing where I had my queen-size bed. When they came back and said, “Where’s the mattress?” I said, “Oh, I got rid of it.” We all sort of went along with this lie.

Kelly Pedersen, executive director, Fort Point Arts Community: Newer residents of Fort Point have no idea that people were initially living in buildings that were not zoned for residential. Squatting, basically.

Booras: We opened the Channel on May 30, 1980—Memorial Day weekend. My partner had bought a former disco club that had the largest capacity in the city at 1,600 people. He was kind of out of money and asked if I had any ideas. I said, yeah: rock ’n’ roll. We had Metallica in there, punk bands such as Stiff Little Fingers. We did African music—King Sunny Adé, Thomas Mapfumo. Run-DMC played one time, and we had the New Models open for them. You’d have nights with Africans in dashikis, punks with spiked hair, and guys in motorcycle jackets all seeing the same show. Punks would come in during the day and climb up and hide in the rafters in the ceiling and then drop down later to see the show for free—“rafter rats,” we called them.

Barry: Roy Orbison was there, and I didn’t go. My friend said he did, like, five encores of “Pretty Woman.” People were going crazy. I still kick myself, because he died the week after.

Booras: We started having some financial problems because we overextended. We opened a lounge, started an entertainment agency, and rent became higher and higher. After we filed for bankruptcy in 1990, we found a buyer, Steve DiSarro. In his quest for money, DiSarro got involved with Frank Salemme Jr., son of the reputed head of the New England mob. They lasted six months, then turned it into a gentlemen’s club. When that didn’t work either, DiSarro disappeared. His murder wasn’t solved until 2016.

The daily catch at Fish Pier, 1977. / Photo by Ulrike Welsch/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

II. The Rise

Beginning in the 1990s, two unprecedented public investments—the Big Dig and the Boston Harbor cleanup—sparked new interest in the largely vacant waterfront property within shouting distance of the Financial District. In addition to the construction of the John Joseph Moakley Federal Courthouse at Fan Pier and a new convention center, Anthony Athanas partnered with Chicago’s Pritzker family (the billionaire founders of the Hyatt hotel chain) to develop the land around his restaurant. Local developer Joseph Fallon also sought permission from the Massachusetts Port Authority to build the neighborhood’s first apartment building by Fish Pier.

Fish: Early on in Thomas Menino’s administration, I remember standing in his office, looking out of a window on the fifth floor of City Hall. He pointed toward the Seaport District and said, “You will not recognize this place in 10 years.” He knew something was going to happen well before anyone else could even think of it.

Bob Durand, former Massachusetts secretary of environmental affairs: Why wasn’t that area developed before? Because we had a polluted harbor. The $4 billion project to clean it up had a big impact.

Yanni Tsipis, senior vice president, WS Development: The only reason anything is happening in the Seaport now is because the federal and state governments made really significant public investments there.

Steve Hollinger, Fort Point resident: The harbor cleanup worked wonders. When I first moved to Fort Point, there was a terrible stench. At low tide, the channel smelled like rotten fish. But over the years, through the ’90s, there was a marked improvement one year to the next, until one day there was no smell at all.

Vivien Li, former director, the Boston Harbor Association: The federal judges on the First Circuit Court of Appeals were the ones who required the cleanup. So when they started looking to build a new courthouse, they realized that instead of staying in Post Office Square, they could be looking out their window at a clean harbor.

O’Brien: At the same time, all of these landowners saw the Big Dig happening and they knew the value that was about to come their way.

Fish: The Big Dig has proven to be the most prudent investment that the commonwealth and the federal government ever made in an infrastructure project in America. People back in the early 2000s were criticizing the billions of dollars that were spent on it, but the economic benefit today and in the future will be a hundred fold.

Anthony Athanas talking chowder, 1968. / Photo by Phil Preston/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Joseph Fallon, CEO, the Fallon Company: Anthony Athanas had partnered with the Pritzker family, and I anticipated them to be moving ahead with developing Fan Pier. But Nick Pritzker, who was leading the family’s investments in Boston, eventually got into a fight with Anthony in the early ’90s, and they had to split the site based on a court decision.

Li: After Anthony lost most of Fan Pier, Congressman Joe Moakley wanted to help him. At the same time, the federal judges were still looking for a place to build their courthouse, and selecting the land that Anthony still owned became a way to compensate him. They decided they wanted a beautiful building that would set a tone for the waterfront, so they chose Henry Cobb as the architect.

Gloria Larson, former chair, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority: If anything was a cornerstone for what came later, it was the Moakley Courthouse. It became a signature element of the waterfront, and its presence helped dismantle the negative perceptions of the neighborhood that had prevented any real development from happening there. At around the same time, people were talking about the Hynes Convention Center being insufficient, and I was cognizant that once the Big Dig was fully completed there would be other opportunities down there.

Fallon: In 1997, our firm was selected by Massport to develop an apartment building and a hotel over by the Fish Pier. That became Park Lane and the Marriott Renaissance. When I was getting the permits, there was some opposition from the residents who lived on that side of South Boston, as well as some people from Fort Point. I walked by a line of people chanting, “No greed east of D.” The fishermen told me they had hooks that would easily support my body weight. I was doing it primarily because the convention center was moving ahead. I needed it to bring bodies down there.

Larson: Once I was appointed head of the convention center board, we hired Rafael Viñoly as the architect of the new building, and our first meeting was in a hotel bar downtown. He’d flown in from New York to meet with us, and I asked him, “Rafael, what is your sense of this? What should this look like?” He took a cocktail napkin and he drew five lines on it. I thought to myself, “Oh my God, I just paid $33 million for a cocktail napkin.” With architects, there’s a ton of give-and-take. Mayor Menino was skeptical the first time Rafael and I brought the plans to him. The mayor unfolds them, and he looks at Rafael and says, “That’s it?” I wanted to self-immolate. But Rafael really calmly turned to the mayor and said, “Show me what you don’t like.” Then Menino was like, “This side looks like a hotel, this looks like a school.” Rafael took copious notes, and he said, “Your comments will be taken into close consideration.” When we returned, Rafael had made—not major changes to his design, but the kind of representative changes that were a direct reflection of what the mayor had suggested. And the mayor said, “I’m good, I’m great. I think this is gonna be fabulous.”

The new Fan Pier rises as a forest of glass, 2017. / Photo by David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

III. The Boom

By the early 2000s, the Big Dig was winding down and plans were taking shape to surround the new courthouse and convention center with gleaming office towers, hotels, and condominiums—plus a landmark new home for the Institute of Contemporary Art.

Kyle Warwick, former principal, Spaulding & Slye Colliers: After the courthouse was built, the Pritzker family was left with 21 acres at Fan Pier. There were only a handful of developers in the neighborhood at the time, jockeying for position. Anthony Athanas still owned his restaurant on Pier 4. Developer Frank McCourt owned what’s now Seaport Square, and then you had Massport. There was a first-come, first-served mentality. The Pritzkers wanted to do a reset of the site and our firm came on board to handle that. Our first hire was Ken Greenberg, an amazingly thoughtful planner.

Ken Greenberg, architect and urban designer: At Fan Pier, what we tried to do is set up the water’s edge to be as accessible as possible. Our plan laid out a central park in the cove that would extend into the site, so there would be a green passage from the land to the sea.

Durand: I chaired the three public hearings we had on the South Boston Waterfront Municipal Harbor Plan, which set the parameters for future waterfront development. Those were attended by hundreds of people. We took all the comments seriously. We wanted to create open space for people to rejuvenate their souls and their spirits. Nick Pritzker would call me and scream, “We need a better timeline! We need to get going!” But my boss was not Nick Pritzker; my responsibility was to the public.

Jill Medvedow, director, Institute of Contemporary Art: When I was hired in 1998, the ICA was scrappy. Absolutely minute financial resources, not a lot of political influence. But through a series of conversations and introductions, I met with the millennium commission, Boston 2000, and learned about this parcel of land on Fan Pier. We talked about our desire for a new museum—our space at that point was a former police station on Boylston Street that had been built in the late 1800s.

Warwick: Part of our public-realm agreement was to give away a 99-year ground lease for a cultural site. There was a proposal from the Wang Theatre to create the Sydney Opera House of Boston, and there was another idea for an acoustic venue. Ultimately, the ICA was chosen. I think the projections of visitors to the museum, the cultural outflow, the public art pieces that could spill out to the other buildings—we thought all those elements would be best for a new neighborhood.

Medvedow: When the Pritzkers and the city made the decision, I was in Reykjavík, Iceland, trying to get two tons of lava donated to the museum for a public artwork by Olafur Eliasson. It was amazing to receive the news—a kind of rare underdog victory. There hadn’t been a new art museum built in Boston for almost 100 years, and the general attitude toward contemporary art in Boston ranged from skeptical to cynical.

Hollinger: The city not only announced land for the ICA, they also announced that the park on Fan Pier would be designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh, so there was a larger vision that we thought were wins—big wins. The city was showing an interest in creating a high-quality public realm.

Fallon: Around that time, the Pritzker family got into a dispute among themselves. The nieces and nephews of Nick and his brothers challenged them, saying they were not sharing the benefits of the development projects they’d been doing around the country. The dispute went to court, and Nick ended up having to sell the site. We stepped in and bought it for $115 million. At some point in the process, I met with Nick about the Van Valkenburgh park. He had envisioned a tidal basin, where the tide would go out and come in and bring in fish, bring life to the basin. I said, “Nick, I’m not sure how that would work. This isn’t Bermuda.” The idea didn’t resonate with me.

Hollinger: That park by Michael Van Valkenburgh—we went to meeting after meeting on it. It was in the planning documents, and it was fully permitted. But years later, with no media attention or public oversight, the then-BRA quietly jettisoned that design in favor of some lawns and firepits, as though the whims of the Fallon Company were the overriding priority.

Friends enjoying the Loop, a buzzy art installation at One Seaport Courtyard last year. / Photo courtesy of WS Development

Jennifer Mecca, president, Fort Point Arts Community’s board of directors: I moved to the neighborhood in 2004, and then about two years later the Boston Wharf Company sold its entire portfolio of properties. That’s when things started going south. The new owners were clearing people out—turning off the heat, all kinds of crazy tactics. They’d give these presentations, like, “This is such a great arts neighborhood.” And then they’re turning around and evicting people left and right.

Lindberg: The area’s obviously a gold mine—waterfront property is waterfront property.

Fallon: I rented a helium balloon that lifted people 250 feet into the air, which allowed potential office tenants to see what phenomenal views they could have in the buildings we’d proposed. As it happened, one of the first people to come down and take a ride in the balloon was the head of real estate for Vertex Pharmaceuticals.

O’Brien: Mayor Menino was running for reelection in 2009, and the press was really beating him up that not enough had happened in the Seaport. The Big Dig had been completed and Vertex Pharmaceuticals was looking around for a new headquarters. He basically grabbed them and said, “We’ll do whatever it takes to get you into the Seaport.”

Warwick: Vertex going down there really helped ignite the economy of the Seaport.

Fallon: Vertex moving in also brought thousands of people to the neighborhood. They needed food, of course, so the restaurants now felt way more comfortable coming here.

Berkowitz: Here’s the thing—you didn’t have to be a Mensa candidate to figure out that seafood on the water would work. Anthony Athanas proved it, No Name proved it. Opportunities to open on the water are few and far between.

Tsipis: The master plan for Seaport Square was initiated in 2006. WS eventually took over as master developer.

Ed  Kane, cofounder, Big Night Entertainment Group: It was pretty clear there was going to be a lot of wealth moving into the area. I really wanted to do a nightclub, but I had to convince WS. I said, “Listen, we’re going to build something like nobody has ever seen here.” We ended up building a $14 million nightclub. We were all in on the Grand—we were going to outspend everyone.

Tsipis: The Envoy Hotel started construction in 2013 and was the first block of Seaport Square to be completed. Our team worked closely with the Fort Point Arts Community to put the Assemblage Arts Space in—we were keenly aware of the history, that the creative community in Fort Point had been there since the late ’70s, and we wanted them to have a visible space in the next evolution of the neighborhood.

Brigitte Martin, executive director, Society of Arts + Crafts: I had lunch in the Seaport in 2016, and I didn’t know the area at all. I was walking around and there were a lot of buildings but no foot traffic. None, absolutely none. Everything was under construction. The rest of Boston just did not understand or embrace the Seaport. They viewed it like an alien spaceship.

The yogis land on Seaport Common. / Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

IV. A Neighborhood is Born

As new apartment buildings slowly filled up, the Seaport morphed from a place to work and play to a neighborhood people actually called home. Still, cultural diversity proved elusive: Currently the city’s whitest neighborhood, the Seaport remains a place that many Bostonians are reluctant to visit.

Kristin Canty, owner, Woods Hill Pier 4: When I moved in above my restaurant right before it opened last year, I was very pleasantly surprised—it’s all ages, young people, people with babies, retired people. It’s a complete neighborhood.

Tom Ready, Fort Point resident: You feed off the energy here, you really do. When we moved here, you couldn’t find a coffee shop that was open on a Saturday. Why? Because there weren’t enough people! Now you look at the Seaport and Fort Point combined, we’ve got in excess of 5,000 housing units, retail, restaurants, hotels, museums, parks….You start adding all of this up, and it’s a pretty impressive neighborhood. There are people who are concerned there’s been too much change—okay, I can see that. But hey, the neighborhood’s better than it was five years ago. I find that exhilarating. I love living here.

Cecelia Levin, Seaport resident: I ended up winning an affordable-housing lottery—that’s why I’m here. I don’t get a beautiful view, but I’m very fortunate. I’m in the Benjamin, and the ones who are paying market rent…they’re not here enough. It’s baby boomers who sold their homes in Wellesley. They wanted to enjoy city life, so they moved to the Seaport, but they still have a second house on the Cape. There’s potential here, but we need programs that get people involved on a deeper level.

Li: In hindsight, I wish we’d given more thought to housing, so that more people from different income levels could live there. Nonetheless, it’s still possible to enjoy the waterfront: the clean harbor, the views, the public amenities.

Deanna Moran, director of environmental planning, Conservation Law Foundation: We commissioned a survey last year and found a lot of Boston’s residents of color just don’t feel as welcome in the Seaport as white residents do. There are a lot of younger couples there, mostly affluent residents— it creates this air about the neighborhood that if you’re not in that demographic, you don’t really belong there. People assume that some of the parks there are just for the condos, and for people coming from Roxbury and Dorchester, there’s no easy way to get down there on public transit.

Jarred Johnson, director, TransitMatters: The original plan for the Silver Line was to run the bus up Washington Street from Dudley Square, and then in Chinatown it would’ve gone underground into a tunnel that connected to the Seaport at South Station. The tunnel never happened, and they spent maybe $40 million on the Dudley section, but well over $400 million on the Seaport section. And that’s before anybody lived there! The reality of how hundreds of millions of dollars end up perpetuating segregation…it’s pretty jarring. That’s the best expression of just how undervalued these folks were in the process.

The Diller Scofidio + Renfro–designed Institute of Contemporary Art, sandwiched between blocky new office buildings and the sea. / Photo by Denis Tangney Jr./Getty Images

Greenberg: I remember the public discussions we had at the Fish Pier in the late ’90s. People wanted to be sure that the space wasn’t going to be privatized—not literally, but psychologically privatized. Our original plan laid out some really strong invitations, places where people could come and be comfortable. It was a much stronger statement than what ended up being done.

Johnson: The Seaport is sort of emblematic of Boston’s race problem. I don’t think anyone involved with its development specifically said, “We’re gonna build a neighborhood that’s almost entirely white and void of socioeconomic diversity.” I don’t think that was the intent. But refusing to acknowledge that Boston is a very segregated city and that there are different levels of opportunity for folks of different races—if they didn’t even acknowledge that, then there’s no way that the Seaport could have ever been successful from that point of view.

Kimberly Barnes, programs manager, FPAC: I have been seeing more people of color walking around, which is exciting. Every Wednesday we have Stone Soup Poetry at the Assemblage, and there’s a lot of people of color who participate in that. There’s engagement. It’s very slow, but it’ll be happening more and more.

Moran: This past summer, CLF brought people from all over the city to the public green at Fan Pier—we coordinated busing to get people from neighborhoods that had never been to that part of the waterfront before. We brought people in from Dorchester and Roxbury, and they said, “I can’t believe this is a space that’s available for me to use.” We had a picnic, we had lawn games. It was great.

Barnes: One of my focuses is getting more people of color, more queer artists, and younger artists into the neighborhood. People of all classes. I really want to be inclusive, just encourage a lot of creativity and communication with each other.

Medvedow: Throughout it all, a lot of mistakes were made. The permitting and variances allowed for almost all of the buildings in the Seaport to be built out to the absolute edges of their lots, for instance. There are very few wide vistas and we missed out on the open, imaginative public spaces along the water that we see in other cities.

Larson: I think the results are mixed. But I’d still give the Seaport a B…a B+, even.

Chef John daSilva expediting dishes at Chickadee, inside the Innovation and Design Building. / Photo by Kristen Teig

V. The Road Ahead

Having finally established itself as Boston’s newest neighborhood, the Seaport is now confronting two existential threats: the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to hammer the area’s hospitality and retail industries, and rising sea levels that pose an indisputable danger to all of that glittery glass.

Moran: The string of nor’easters we had in 2018 was a wake-up call: There was a viral video of a dumpster floating down Seaport Boulevard. But the unfortunate reality is a lot of the Seaport is already built out. The city of Boston has done a great job of planning for climate change, but we’ve moved pretty slowly on implementation, so the opportunity we had to leverage private development to get dollars for some of these district-wide resilience projects has come and gone. I think that contributes to a lot of fear from residents about what the future holds for the neighborhood.

Christopher Cook, chief of environment, energy, and open space, city of Boston: Is the Seaport vulnerable to coastal flooding? It is. We built out Martin’s Park, we have a federal grant application to put a berm on the north side of Fort Point Channel—all of that is about planning for that long-term flood pathway. At the same time, we have to think about how we can provide for our climate reality that also expands on everyone’s fundamental right to the waterfront. I think COVID-19 has highlighted those needs. Imagine this current crisis if we had a contiguous network of open space extending from Franklin Park to the Seaport.

Berkowitz: In my mind’s eye, I see people coming to the Seaport this summer as a bit of a respite from what they’ve endured these past few months. Sitting out on the deck, feasting on fried clams and lobster rolls.

Kane: People are still going to go out, even though I don’t think anyone wants to walk into a bumping, pulsing nightclub. At the Grand, we’ll have reduced occupancy and be reservation only—you’ll book a table, come with your group, order from an app. We’ll stick to a local or regional DJ. On the dance floor, we’ve talked about putting high-top cocktail tables out, numbering them, and putting them 6 feet apart. We’re going to keep it small and safe.

Lindberg: Many of us are trying to envision what comes next as social distancing becomes the norm. The surge of new residents and retail is paused and a return to “normalcy” seems unlikely.

The Yotel on Seaport Boulevard shows support for frontline healthcare workers during the early days of the coronavirus crisis. / Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Canty: I can’t imagine opening up under these current circumstances. A fine-dining restaurant at 25 percent capacity, everyone masked and gloved, disinfecting constantly…that’s just not what hospitality is. Part of my staff really want to work, but some of them are afraid. If I did reopen Pier 4, I think I’d do one meal a day, maybe two days a week. Takeout only. Provide food that’s affordable and healthy, showing that we care.

O’Brien: Here’s the thing: This could be the beginning of a transformation. Look at the first generation of retail in a place like the Seaport—a lot of it was national brands. If those were to go away and you end up with a retail mix that is more local, more interesting, that could be good.

Greenberg: As bad as COVID-19 is, the worst possible thing that could happen would be reversing decades of progress in getting us out of our cars and living more sustainably. I doubt the crisis is going to send us back into our cars and back to the suburbs. The gravitational pull to cities is very, very strong.

Burns: The neighborhood association has started holding monthly meetings on Zoom, and we’re seeing larger turnouts. Mayor Marty Walsh joined early this spring—we were thrilled. I think he’s increasingly aware the residents of Fort Point and the Seaport have become one organization. Before all of this, it was hard to tell who was an office worker and who was a resident, but during these COVID months the residents have become more fully visible. That’s really different. It gives us a sense of, “Oh, this is who really lives here.” At Trader Joe’s, I’m recognizing more faces, even if they’re masked. Fort Point and the Seaport are coming together as a result of the crisis. We’re emerging as a block. We’re giving voice to this new part of the city.