Boston Walkabout: The Seaport, Financial & Custom House Districts

I’ve lived in Greater Boston for 15 years and yet I still can go on a downtown walkabout and discover new sights. The Boston metro is an amazing area that is still growing.

Yesterday I saw part of the inside of the Custom House Tower for the first time: The first inner dome with the original mercantile house flags. In normal times the observatory at the top of the tower is open to the public, but it has yet to return given the pandemic. That’s definitely on my summer to-do list; I can’t wait to see the rest of what seems like a fascinating interior, made of Vermont marble and Quincy granite. It’s a Marriott hotel now, which seems odd, but it’s great the building is very much active and in use.

Other sites could use a bit of help in keeping them alive, like the Old Central Wharf and the International Trust Co. Building. As I walked around the Custom House District and Milk Street, one of Boston’s first thoroughfares, I noticed quite a few spaces for rent. There’s a lot of turnover due to the pandemic and what have been previously untouchable historical spaces are now up for grabs. A couple of the above shots are from inside the Old Central Wharf — I got an impromptu tour from a couple who own a chunk of the building and have a family law firm, Pappas & Pappas. (They’re looking to rent out three separate floors of their section of 77 Central St. commercially, by the way.) The wharf used to stretch out 52 bays to where the aquarium is. It’s now 9 bays. It has some really interesting original features including iron safes that look like they could survive indefinitely.

It’s amazing to see how far the city and even humanity has come by seeing these original historical sites. There’s a lot of potential for further preservation by different small companies, start-ups and individuals moving in to these spaces. What came to mind as I photographed Milk Street and had my tour was that a combination of history, artsy and some high tech would work well, updating the historical quirks tastefully.

I consider the Lion and the Unicorn on the Old State House to be exemplary of historical quirks. Yes, they are symbols of the British monarchy. Nowadays though, they have the unattached symbolism of strength and uniqueness!

The other part of my walkabout was the Seaport, an undeniably high tech complete transformation. It’s become a prominent district in a short time, and indeed every time I go over there I discover something new. This photogenic city continues to yield moments to capture.

And this is a great time to plug my book “Bostonia: A Photographic Tribute To Greater Boston!” I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of this area, and this is the first volume that includes inspiring famous quotations.

Here’s the link:

Published by sarah ikerd

@sarah.ikerd / owner

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