With rough directions from the Boston Federal Building to the central US Post Office, I headed out with a large, official envelope in hand stuffed full with Peace Corp informational material. The direction the employee pointed me in took me past on of the buildings The Departed was filmed at, which she had described as something along the lines of uncomprehendably ugly.
Still, walking I began to reach what was certainly the central, most cosmopolitan area of the city. The skyscrapers were higher, the architecture was beautiful, and parks with cafes were between heavily trafficked streets.
Relying more on approximate GPS directions from my iPhone more than the initial directions I got from the Peace Corp, I came across a vary large, very old building with an inscription that read “Post Office”. I entered to find a number of metal detectors and security guards.
It quickly became obvious that this was no longer a post office and one of the guards pointed me further down the path I had been taking and then to turn down another street. Finally, after a long search, and long wait, I unloaded the bulky envelope to the US Post Office and sent it on its way to Michigan. It normally wouldn’t have been a burden, but I went out without any sort of backpack that day.
Exploring a few neighboring backstreets, I came across a small gourmet pizza slice selling 2 slices and a can of soda for $5.
Backtracking my path, I returned to a tightly packed open-air fruit market, which led me into what has become of Faneuil Hall. A monument legendary in its own right in the histories of the US, its immediate surroundings have now become an open-air shopping mall with all the staple clothing stores and accompanied by Quincy Market, a historic building now stuffed with any conceivable food stand, several miniature 3-4 seat bars, and even an “Official” Cheers bar.
I entered Faneuil Hall through one of the several sets of thin doors and followed a few people up a flight of stairs into the main meeting hall. Inside a National Parks speaker was in the middle of a lecture on the history of the building throughout several eras of its history.
After the speech, we were free to wander the building at will. I went to the front to series of maps of the city of Boston throughout its history. One thing that caught my eye that I had never known before was that the landmass on which Boston sits used to be much smaller. Over the centuries, the coastline has been expanded with fill from the many hills that used to exist around the area.
I headed out of Faneuil Hall and explored Quincy Market for a while, though the interior was far too crowded for me to want to make more than one pass through. With no need to buy anything and still full from the pizza lunch, I continued north of the Faneuil area and came to a long parkway in view of the TD Garden and the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge. In the middle of the parkway was a park full of people doing everything from reading to frisbee to just lying out.
When I was here before, a good portion of the city was torn up for the Big Dig, a construction project that aimed to alleviate inner-city traffic by relocating the main highway into an subterranean tunnel. Since its completion, all the area where the previous highway had been has been renovated into beautiful parks several kilometers long. This was one of the parks I had just come to.
Catching sight of a leg of the infamous Boston Freedom Trail, I followed past the parkway and into the North End.