I walk through the Boston Common at least 20 times each week. Its footpaths take me to work each day, the gym (sadly not each day) and to one of my favorite spots – Borders Books in Downtown Crossing. Over the years, the Common has been my host to countless canine play dates and served as a wonderful backdrop for the annual Shakespeare in the Park series.
So, when I read the article, “The Common May Go Corporate” in today’s Boston Globe, my initial reaction was not positive. Without even reading beyond the headline, I had visions of corporate banners with larger than life logos in every corner, and for this wonderful piece of land that was purchased in 1643 (by each household in Boston) to be dressed up like a clown.
However, as soon as I read that the Friends of the Public Garden is spearheading this “exploration,” I started to soften a bit. I am a great fan of the Friends and their reputation precedes them. When I first moved to Beacon Hill I had a lovely conversation with a gentleman in a seersucker suit (complete with a bow tie) who happened to be walking my way down South Charles Street. He proceeded to tell me all about the history of the Public Garden, the Boston Common and Boston in general. By the time we parted ways, I could have easily won a Boston Trivial Pursuit party. Come to find out that my tour guide was Henry Lee, the president of the Friends of the Public Garden. Mr. Lee was quoted in this makeover article, “We think the time has come,’’ said Henry Lee, president of the Friends of the Public Garden, which also advocates for the Common. “Given the state of the park, given the state of the economy, we have to do this in a modest, careful, appropriate way.’’
I started to think about some of the recent “corporate facelifts” in and around Boston. Some I admire very much including the Boston Opera House, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and certain areas of the Museum of Fine Arts. Understated elegance. I’m not sure that the Wang, now Citi Center for the Performing Art fared as well.
We shall see what these “makeover meetings” yield for this 367-year-old landmark. I do believe Mr. Lee, and trust that anything he and the dedicated and active members of the Friends and others are involved in on behalf of our parks will be carefully planned and executed. I think that we will be guaranteed something terrific over time and, if the project does proceed, the Common will benefit – and so will we. Plastic surgery should be done gradually, right? The whole idea is not to notice any “obvious improvements”
And yes, I am a member of the Friends of the Public Garden, but cannot take one ounce of credit for any of their efforts. They host amazing gatherings, and I’m sure my annual contribution buys me one tulip in those amazing tulip beds each spring. I don’t have a garden in my tiny Beacon Hill apartment….but I do have the Common and the Public Garden.