Our House

Apologies to anyone who saw the mess that was my homepage this morning. I updated the template yesterday to include Blogrolling links in the left hand nav, and found this morning that the page didn’t appear–except for the print friendly links. I looked at it and saw that my HTML syntax for the comments I had put into the template to make it more readable was wrong–as a result, all the page was commented out.

I realized that I’ve written more about my everyday life in Seattle than my everyday life in Boston. As you may have guessed from the copious risotto references, we live in Boston’s traditional Italian neighborhood, the North End. This is our second apartment in the greater Boston area since moving here for MIT Sloan a little over a year ago.

The first apartment we were in was almost palatial–huge two bedroom place with 13-foot ceilings, exposed (painted) brick, full time night watchman, incredible service. But we realized we were paying about $2 a square foot for living in the middle of a construction zone. Fully loaded semi trucks rattled by our bedroom window in the middle of the night. Construction dust sifted through the framing of the modern windows to encrust the sills. And (the capper) there were no decent places to eat within walking distance. “Our house in the middle of our street”, indeed–some nights it felt like our bed was in the middle of the street.

We moved to this place about five months ago. The North End is a cool little neighborhood. Formerly an island and home to such Boston luminaries as Paul Revere, the neighborhood was connected to the main part of the city by landfill and subequently became home to waves of immigration. Today the neighborhood is separated from the rest of the city by the I-93 bridge–a fact which has probably done a lot to preserve the pedestrian friendly streets and “Itanglish” of the inhabitants. You can smell the cooking from early in the morning to late at night. You can walk a route that takes you past three traditional butchers, four bakeries, two pasticcherias, a ravioli maker, three delis, at least four greengrocers, three wine stores, and about a million cafés, trattorias, and restaurants, plus Paul Revere’s house and Old North Church, in about ten minutes.

The irony is that, if the Big Dig ever gets done. the walls of isolation that have protected the neighborhood will come down. Sure, there will probably be green space where the big green overpass sits now, but it’ll be a lot easier to get a car into the neighborhood. Something will change irrevocably. Maybe that’s why the neighborhood fought so vigorously against the Dig (that and the noise of construction that never ceases). The North End has been an island again for many years; for a second time, it’s going to be connected to the mainland. Something will change; we just don’t know what.