“In a 1914 article we read, the author wrote that we are the most elegant theater in Boston of its size,” said Marilyn Plotkins, founding director of the Modern. “We still are.’’
Suffolk University, the theatre owner, will unveil its $41 million renovation at a ribbon-cutting ceremony today to ensure the theatre keeps this reputation for generations to come.
The Globe writes, “The Modern joins the Paramount Center and the Boston Opera House, all in the row on Washington Street, to represent the reclaiming of a once-glorious cultural center that became a porn-soaked symbol of city decay.”
That’s quite a transformation.
I moved to Boston almost 10 years ago from San Francisco. I often have the opportunity to walk from Post Office Square to Beacon Hill, the Back Bay or the South End. I love walking through all of those neighborhoods, and the Common and Public Garden in between. But, Downtown Crossing is like the ugly stepchild that can’t be avoided – you have to go through it to get from point A to point B. It feels dark, dirty, crowded, outdated, and seedy.
However, that’s slowly changing. Ten years ago, you just didn’t go to lower Washington Street. Today, three once-magnificent theatres are restored and reopened, and a W Hotel opened around the corner.
I see pictures of what Downtown Crossing once was – a bustling street filled with horses, carriages, finely-dressed people and shining store-fronts. It could once again build its reputation as a vibrant hub, but that will require significant changes and capital investment; what has started at the lower-end of Washington Street must extend up through the rest of Washington Street.
I’ve heard people talk about the dramatic change and revival of the South End, and have witnessed the transformation of the Seaport District. I sincerely hope Downtown Crossing can achieve the same end. It takes sustained time, effort and focus to change a reputation.