April 16, 2007

Boston’s North End is one of my all-time favorite places to visit: the sights, the sounds, the aroma of Italian food and pastries filling the air, the closeness of the waterfront, and just the feeling of history and community that pervades every square foot of the place. You don’t have to be Italian to enjoy it, and increasingly, the North End isn’t just for Italians anymore, as it’s becoming quite the trendy place for single professionals to live.

For years the North End lived in the shadows of Boston’s Central Artery – the highway that served to cut the neighborhood off from the rest of the city. But thanks to the taxpayers of the U.S.A., who footed the whopping 14.6 billion (yes, Gertrude, that’s “b” as in billion) pricetag for what became known as the “Big Dig”, the North End has been reunited with its host city, and there are big plans in store to publicize the end of the Big Dig’s construction:

Long an attraction for tourists who came for an Italian meal and to see historical sites like the church where lanterns set Paul Revere on his midnight ride, the North End is being touted by promoters who want to forge a new image of a retail paradise where high-end shopping goes hand-in-hand with old world charm.

Promoters plan next month to blanket area hotels, restaurants, and tourist sites with 25,000 brochures and maps of the neighborhood’s attractions. Television spots are to be filmed over the next several weeks featuring neighborhood fire fighters, police officers, cooks, and residents who say, “This is my North End.” The slogan is meant to depict the neighborhood as a place where everyone can find something they like.

I think it’s a fantastic idea, and one that should pay great dividends. Of course, there’s always the danger that, the more people who hear about the North End and want to come in for a visit, the more likely they’ll discover my own personal favorite Italian restaurant, Pagliuca’s, on Parmenter Street (shhh! don’t tell anyone!). The veal there is fantastic, their marinara is to die for, and, with a glass or two of the house chianti and an antipasto, and baby, you be living! Oh, and did I mention the bread? Oh, the bread! Which reminds me, why is it so difficult to get decent Italian bread out here in Phoenix? But I digress…

Of course, not everyone is pleased about this newfangled publicity campaign. After all, nothing stays the same, and for this historic part of Boston, as Bob Dylan once sang, the times, they are a’ changin’:

…Still, some longtime residents fear that the transition will further dilute the neighborhood culture.

“The old charm is gone,” Sal Fiamma, 72 , said as he took a break from the Rome-Manchester soccer game and stood outside Caffe dello Sport, wearing a brown tie, vest, and driving cap. “The butcher shops are going, one by one . . . and whiskey is not sold like it used to be. White wine has taken over, and all those stupid drinks like fruit martinis.”

Stupid drinks like fruit martinis…I gotta admit, Mr. Fiamma has a point there.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:30 | Comments (4)
  1. So, the BIG DIG is DUG??

    God, that seems to have gone on FOREVER!

    Was the Marathon cancelled today??

    Comment by Avoiceofreason — April 16, 2007 @ 9:12 pm

  2. Actually, AVOF, it’s still going on, along with the lawsuits. But the Marathon indeed got run today, and the Sox played and won. We New Englanders are a hearty lot – no historic Nor’easter is gonna trump tradition!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — April 16, 2007 @ 9:25 pm

  3. Thanks for the tips – we’ll be visiting Boston in the summer.

    Thanks for visiting my blog on the “haters” piece.

    I’ll be back – you have a lot of good stuff here – you even like the Beatles! (and Jesus, much more importantly).

    Comment by Neil — April 17, 2007 @ 4:52 am

  4. Welcome to the Nation, Neil. Glad to have you as a visitor – don’t be a stranger. You’ll find an eclectic assortment of topics on this blog, and some personal stuff to under religion and culture. I welcome your visits and comments in the future!

    Comment by The Great White Shank — April 17, 2007 @ 8:30 pm

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