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The two faces of Boylston Street

Did you know that Boylston Street has two faces?

Tucked in a story about how the city is hiring a consultant to come up with a coherent sidewalk scheme for 10 blocks of Boylston Street (starting at Arlington Street), there’s this interesting tidbit:

The two sides of Boylston Street have different design identities — the south side is comparatively modern and aligned with the city’s “high spine,” an urban design concept that’s governed development of many office and residential towers. The north side, where projects have been more “piecemeal,” is monitored by the BBAC, which has preserved the historic architecture and provided generous sidewalk widths, according to the city’s request for proposal.

Because most Bostonians are direction-challenged (i.e. we don’t routinely use “north” and “south” for directions, opting instead for landmarks as guides, as in: ‘Take a left at the Dunkin’ Donuts and then a hard right, 3 o’clock high, once in the rotary …’), it took us a while to figure out that the north side of Boylston is (we think) the side closest to Newbury Street and opposite of the Hynes center (there goes the landmark descriptions, again).

And you know what? The sidewalks are different. One is slightly more historic, the other more “modern” (and boring, in our opinion). We never really gave it much thought before, let alone articulated the difference. But there it is.

Now watch the city screw up both sides of Boylston.

File under: Two face(s)