Category Archives: Boston

Eastern Air returns to Boston

Once upon a time Eastern Air Lines was a major carrier. At its height, all of Terminal A at Boston’s Logan Airport was dedicated to Eastern Air Lines, but that all stopped when it went bankrupt in 1991. The airline had a brief and unsuccessful relaunch in 2017 but the failed brand didn’t dissuade Dynamic Airways from purchasing the rights to the brand in 2019 and flying again under the name in early 2020.

The fledgling airline has a total of 13 planes (Boeing 767s and 777s) at the moment and is based out of both JFK (NYC) and Miami International Airport. Earlier this year, the airline started flying from Boston to Miami and recently the airline which currently flies from Boston, New York City, Philadelphia and Miami to 8 cities in the Caribbean, Latin and South America announced that it will be expanding service in 2021.

Nonstop service between New York, Miami and Boston to Belo Horizonte, Brazil will start in March 2021

Starting in late March Eastern Air will begin flying from Boston, Miami and New York to Belo Horizonte, Brazil. In Boston, the airline will cut into LATAM Airlines monopoly on nonstop flights to Brazil and with most Brazilians in metro Boston hailing from Minas Gerais, flying to Belo Horizonte, could be quite profitable.

travel, handsome, hunk

Eastern’s service from Boston will operate on Sundays, Mondays and Fridays. Miami service will operate on Mondays and Fridays and New York service will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Roundtrip tickets are currently available online for approximately $600.00 with taxes.

For more information, check them out online at goeasternair.com.

Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program to continue in 2021

One of the few good things that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic was the city of Boston’s outdoor dining pilot program that was intended to help restaurants faced with strict indoor dining restrictions. The move was enthusiastically supported by restaurant owners, their staff and patrons so yesterday the city of Boston announced that it would resume its outdoor-dining pilot, allowing restaurants to use street parking and sidewalk space outside their doors for tables effective April 1, 2021 (or possibly earlier depending on the weather). Below are some key dates for Boston restaurants to note.

January 18, 2021: The initial deadline for licensees to submit an application to receive a decision or follow-up questions from the city of Boston Licensing Board is due by February 19, 2020. Licensees may also submit an application after this date to participate and those applications will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

February 19, 2021: The city of Boston Licensing Board will notify licensees of approvals or requests for more information if they submitted their application by January 18.

April 1, 2021: The 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot will start on April 1, 2021, weather permitting. This may start earlier if the weather permits. More updates will be shared in the future.

Boston Outdoor Dining Application

According to the mayor’s office approximately 550 Boston restaurants extended their dining space outdoors (415 of them on public land). Click here for more information about 2021 Outdoor Dining Pilot Program.

World AIDS Day remembrance in Boston

HIV

A different sort of pandemic will be remembered next week on World AIDS Day, December 1st. The impact of AIDS on the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and 1990s is difficult to put into context but there are many parallels to the current pandemic. In both cases, people felt isolated and afraid. Medical treatment and care was not as readily available to the LGBTQ community nearly as quickly and many died alone. Forty years later, there remains no cure to AIDS / HIV but quality of life continues to get better.

The Boston Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and Fenway Health will host a vigil celebrating life and honoring those affected by HIV/AIDS on Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 12:00 PM at the AIDS Memorial Tree on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall near Kenmore Square.

Please bring a mask and observe social distancing but the ever resourceful sisters will have on hand PPE to share including masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer for anyone who may need them. A digital version of the vigil will also be posted on social media following the event.

If you have any questions, please contact the sisters at info@thebostonsisters.org.

MBTA mulls major cuts

Boston public transportation

A steep drop in MBTA ridership attributed to the pandemic and rising unemployment combined with the need for state budget cuts has resulted in some pretty scary proposed cuts that include halting all ferry service, eliminating a half-dozen commuter rail stops as well as stopping weekend service, cutting 25 bus routes and decreasing subway frequencies.

As a result of the decline in ridership that is similarly impacting transit agencies across the country, the MBTA is now only transporting 330,000 trips on an average weekday – but is continuing to run the same high levels of service as it ran to serve 1.26 million daily trips prior to the pandemic, an unsustainable level of service delivery.

Ferry service is currently running at 12% of pre-pandemic levels. Commuter rail service is essentially the same running at 13% of pre-pandemic levels. Subway and bus service are faring better but also have seen steep drop offs in ridership so the MBTA is proposing fewer trains and ending service at 12 Midnight. Approximately 25 bus routes appear to be on the chopping block. You can see what the MBTA has proposed for changes in bus service, here.

Some of the cuts to the commuter rail and ferry could be phased in as soon as January, but the changes to rapid transit and bus service would not be expected until the spring of 2021.

Book review: The Girl in the Boston Box by Chuck Latovich

I just finished reading local author, Chuck Latovich, debut novel, The Girl in the Boston Box. The 400+ page book published in Cambridge by Way We Live Publishers tells the story of two people living in Boston and Cambridge. One is a down-and-out gay man (Mark) who is estranged from his family and wallowing in self-pity after a break up and the other is a young woman (Caitlyn) studying architecture history at Harvard, who is intrigued by a rumor that some nineteenth century Boston architects may have built hidden rooms in homes of wealthy Bostonians called a “Boston Box”. Initially thinking these were part of the Underground Railroad, her research points to a far more salacious and disturbing reason for these hidden spaces. Mark and Caitlyn’s path ultimately cross as the result of a murder and an unexpected connection between the two and the victim.

This is an enjoayble read filled with short, punchy chapters that kept me reading late into the night. Murder mystery and detective literature fans will enjoy the twists and turns of this well written story. I loved how Latovich used Boston and Cambridge as the backdrop with much of the story taking place in the South End, Fenway and Harvard Square neighborhoods.

This book can be purchased online at Amazon but you can also check with your local bookstore to see if they will order you a copy.

New England’s first LGBTQ-friendly housing facility for seniors gets green light

Rendering by DIMELLA SHAFFER/MIKYOUNG KIM DESIGN

In 1902 The William Barton Rogers school in Boston’s Hyde Park neighborhood opened its doors to admit students. Initially a high school that later had boarding space for students, it was most recently a middle school before closing its doors in 2015. This August the Boston Planning and Development Agency approved plans to convert this building into a 74-unit LGBTQ-friendly apartment building for seniors (62+ years old) and earlier this week the Zoning Board of Appeal gave their approval.

The developer plans to preserve the entirety of the school and the architecturally significant interior and exterior elements, including the gymnasium and auditorium as well as a few classrooms that will be repurposed for community use. The developer is planning to create 27 studios, 39 one-bedroom apartments and 9 two-bedroom apartments. with 50 of the units to be rented to people making no more than 60% of the the Boston area-median income.

This development will be the first building in New England designed for LGBTQ seniors, but I do hope it is not the last and am curious to follow the progress of this development. There was no word on a completion date.

Boston ranked one of the best US cities by Conde Nast readers

Boston Public Garden

Earlier this week, Boston was named among the three best large cities in America by Conde Nast Traveler readers. The publication’s 2020 Readers’ Choice Awards ranked Boston No. 3 with Washington, D.C. taking second and Chicago ranked as the best.

More than 750,000 of their readers participated in the online survey between April 1 and June 30, 2020. The publication was very complimentary about my hometown writing, “For one of the oldest cities in the United States, Boston sure has aged with style. To get a quick refresher on our nation’s history, walk the Freedom Trail, a 2.5-mile route along a string of historic sites that takes you through the country’s founding. Other activities worth adding to your itinerary include slurping up oysters at Neptune, visiting the eclectic salon-style art display at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and catching a ball game at Fenway Park. Just be sure to learn the words to ‘Sweet Caroline’ before you go.

Rounding out the Top 10 list of best large cities are:

4. New Orleans, LA

5. San Antonio, TX

6. New York, NY

7. San Diego, CA

8. Nashville, TN

9. Tucson, AZ

10. St. Petersburg, FL

While I can understand how a few of these cities made the list, I’m left wondering how is New Orleans still considered a large city with a population of less than 400,000 people, and how could cities like Denver, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle be omitted?

Conde Nast Traveler readers also ranked their favorite small cities (places with populations less than 250,000), which you can check out here.

The Charles River Esplanade

Better known as “The Esplanade”, this state-owned park in the Back Bay is probably best known today for hosting the city’s annual July 4th celebration with the Boston Pops. However, this 17-mile stretch of parkland that snakes alongside the Charle River offers so much more and is one of my favorite parks.

The birth of “The Esplanade”
The park was created in 1910 when the Charles River Dam Bridge was created and was called the Boston Embankment. In the late 20s and early 30s this parkland saw major expansion, widening the narrow strip of land and extending the park. This incluced adding the first of what would be several lagoons, boat landings, playgrounds and more including a temporary bandshell. In the summer of 1929 Arthur Fiedler performed for the first time with the Boston Pops.

Sailing and other popular activities at the Hatch Shell
Approximately 30 years after the park was opened the Hatch Memorial Shell was constructed in 1941. This was possible because of a generous posthumous donation from Maria Hatch in memory of her brother. Boating and sailing on the Charles River started in the 1930s and due to its popularity in 1946 Community Boating was created as the country’s first public boating program. Where for a modest fee, thousands of people each year can learn to sail on the Charles River.

Storrow Drive and the Esplanade expansion
The next major change to the Esplanade began in 1949. The construction of Storrow Drive significantly reduced the size of the park. To make up for the lost land additional islands with crisscrossing paths were created. In the 1960s the park was linked to adjoining parkland and bike paths were added. These paths remain popular for biking and running and this free Esplanade map is used by many to calculate distances between bridges.

Gay cruising along the Esplanade
For decades Beacon Hill was the neighborhood of choice for Boston’s gay community. Its proximity to the seedy Scollay Square which is no more and access to public land like the Boston Common and Esplanade provided men an opportunity to meet under the cover of night to cruise for sex. By the 1980s most of Boston’s gay community had moved out of Beacon Hill and the park became less popular for casual sex.

The Esplanade park remains a favorite for Bostonians and tourists alike. The park is regularly used for concerts, outdoor movies, hosting exercise classes and large gatherings for charities. Each day thousands run, bike and walk along the parks’ paths and many come to relax, reflect and enjoy time with friends or someone special.

Southie power plant plan is scaled back

The massive development in Southie known as the L Street Station, which will replace the old Edison Power Plant (shown above), has been updated according to an article published by the Boston Business Journal earlier this week.

The 15 acre property which aims to convert the Edison Turbine Hall in South Boston into a mixed use development has been scaled back and will now include 630+ residential units, a 231-room hotel, more than 520,000 square feet of office space, approximately 335,000 square feet of R&D space, and nearly 85,000 square feet of retail space. The property will also include nearly 6 acres of open space as well as a commitment to give a $10 million (or $670,000 annual for 15 years) operating subsidy to the MBTA to help with additional service on the Route 7 and Route 9 buses.

Initially the project proposal also included nearly 1,400 parking spaces but I was not able to see if that has changed. The project still needs final approval from city and state in addition to Massport lifting its restriction that prevents residential development on the site.

Boston’s Nubian Square

Nubian Square (formerly Dudley Square) is the commercial center of the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston and is located at the intersection of Dudley Street and Washington Street. The heart of this newly renamed neighborhood is less than 1.5 miles from the center of the South End (Tremont and Clarendon).

The neighborhood is still very much in transition, and I like the urban vibe.  While new residences continue to be built, there is a community that calls this home that I hope will always be welcome there and not be pushed out as investment continues to bring more housing and commercial space.

Photo credit: Black Market Nubian Square

Nubian Square has been the center of African American culture in Boston since the end of WWII. Previously, it was better known as a Jewish neighborhood but it would become home to some of the 20th century’s most influential African Americans. In the early 1940s Malcolm Little (better known as Malcolm X) moved into his family home at 72 Dale Street as a teenager and lived there for 12 years. Martin Luther King Jr. met and fell in love with Coretta Scott King when they were both students in Boston in the early 1950s and lived a short walk from Dudley Square (the former name of Nubian Square).

In the decades that followed many more influential African Americans would call this neighborhood home, or when visiting Boston this is where they would go out. In the early part of the 21st Century as Boston’s wealth grew, greater investment in surrouding neighborhoods helped breathe new life into this culturally and racially diverse neighborhood. It is now a vibrant neighborhood that reminds me of the South End 20+ years ago. A wide variety of small businesses dominate the streetscape with very few exceptions.

As the photos above show, the area has beautiful architecture and public art like the Crisscross Signal Spire shown just above. This is an interactive work of light art designed by Höweler + Yoon Architecture. The spire visualizes social media content with its integrated LED lighting system in real-time, more information about the sculpture here.

As you might expect, the neighborhood is also home to some great (and affordable) restaurants. EaterBoston shared a list of some of their reader’s favorite destinations last August which I encourage you to read here. Dining options range from West African flavors of Bintimani Restaurant and Suya Joint to East African cuisine of Fasika (a favorite of BosGuy reader, Giuseppe Di Capiro) to soul food of Maxine’s.

The neighborhood also has several interesting cafes like Dudley Cafe and Haley House Bakery and Cafe which relocated from the South End as well as grocery shops like Tropical Foods, but my favorite is the nonprofit community grocer, the Daily Table.

*****     *****     *****

Is there a neighborhood you think I should visit? I love exploring neighborhoods, villages and towns and would like to hear what you love about where you live.

Machine / Ramrod in Fenway to be demolished

This past Thursday applications were filed with the city to demolish the commercial buildings in the Fenway at 1252-1268 & 1270 Boylston Street. Some may recognize the address which is the home of Boston’s gay bar Machine / Ramrod  in Fenway. The series of small buildings that currently comprise this block will be demolished to make way for a 15-story,  225,000 square foot mixed-use project that will include 451 rental units above a ground-floor retail podium designed for a broad range of neighborhood-oriented culinary, lifestyle, and experiential tenants. The rental units will range in size from studios through 3 bedrooms. 15% of units, 68 in total will be affordable.

In recognition of the site’s important heritage and affiliation with the LGBTQ community, the building will also include the Boylston Black Box, a 10,000-square-foot LGBTQ-centric venue for the performing arts. The Boylston Black Box will be anchored by a 156-seat theater and will also include dedicated flex and community areas to serve as safe spaces. The Boylston Black Box will be delivered and operated on a not-for-profit basis.

Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission opens in Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco

Late last month the city of Boston announced it would form a “Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission” to review racial inequities, police violence and misconduct in the legal system.

Boston becomes one of just three cities to convene and pilot such a commission with the hope that more shall follow. District attorneys in Boston, Philadelphia and San Francisco have all pledged to create the commissions with a goal of starting work as early as this fall.

Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation commissions formed when apartheid ended in South Africa in the 1990s, these groups will be overseen by district attorneys who could decide to prosecute

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No. It's functioning exactly the way those who designed and built it intended it to function. It was not built to give us justice. It was built to oppress us. So today, we begin tearing it down, and replacing it with something imaginative and new, something redemptive. ⁣ ⁣ 25 years ago, in the shadows of Apartheid in South Africa, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed to properly address generations of racial injustice that had been all but ignored. ⁣ ⁣ It’s TIME for the United States to do the same. ⁣ ⁣ Today we are announcing the formation of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission. ⁣ ⁣ In spite of all of our movements for change, the thing we call the justice system in the United States has never been a reliable, competent, compassionate, professional, respectful tool for justice for tens of millions of Americans. ⁣ ⁣ Instead, it has often been a cruel and oppressive force of injustice for African Americans, Native Americans, Latinos, immigrants, members of the LGBTQIA community, and all marginalized communities. Consequently, when marginalized people have needed to finally rely on this system for justice, it has routinely failed them in the worst ways imaginable. This isn't a bug in the system, but a feature. It's operating exactly the way it was designed and built to function. That’s why we’re imagining and building something new.⁣ ⁣ Today, in partnership with the District Attorneys of San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Boston – Chesa Boudin, Larry Krasner, and Rachael Rollins, we are announcing the formation of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to actually process and address the injustices of the past that simply were not given the time, attention, and dignity that they deserved. We expect the formation process to last at least until this fall when the local commissions will then announce the next steps for impacted individuals and families to formally submit cases to be considered.⁣ ⁣ Follow us today. ⁣ ⁣ Join us and support the work @ TJRC.org or by clicking the link in our bio.

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Wicked Queer Festival will be streamed starting July 24

Boston’s 36th annual Wicked Queer festival, had been scheduled to open in early April, but had to be postponed due to the coronavirus. Fortunately, the organizers were able to reimagine the festival so fans of queer film (no matter where you live) can access and watch this year’s fantastic festival on Xerb TV, from Friday, July 24 – Sunday, August 2.

This year’s festival can be viewed by anyone who loves queer film 

To participate in this year’s festival you can register to watch individual films for $10 or a variety of packages starting at $30.00. This easy-to-follow video shares how to attend this year’s Wicked Queer Film Festival on Xerb TV.

Boston’s Wicked Queer Festival
Friday, July 24 – Sunday, August 2
Xerb TV calendar (includes date & time for each film)

For updates, visit wickedqueer.org.

Boston Pops July 4th celebration

Photo Credit: Kelly Automotive

The Boston Pops annual fireworks show was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Pops will still offer patriotic music and fireworks during “A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes,” a pre-recorded performance airing July 4th.

This year’s program will pay tribute to the front line workers and those who have lost their lives during the COVID-19 public health crisis and will air on Bloomberg Television, Bloomberg Radio, and Boston’s WHDH-TV, on Saturday, July 4, starting at 8 p.m.

Boston sees smallest drop off in hiring in US

LGBT Boston, gay life bostonThe 20 biggest American cities saw significant drop in hiring in April according to LinkedIn. With one exception – Boston. Looking at regional trends, LinkedIn found that all but one of the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas showed an April drop of 20% to 40% in their hiring rates, as compared with the previous month. Boston by contrast, saw its hiring decline just 6.8% month-over-month in April.

The industries that have fared best thus far (health care, education and technology) comprise a significant, if not an out-sized, footprint in Boston’s economy and is credited for such a shallow dip in hiring in the region.

20.5 Million Americans lose jobs in April
US  unemployment rate soars to 14.7%

This may be of little comfort to those who have lost their jobs or seen their hours and income reduced, but it hopefully means that Boston remains more resilient and as a region we can emerge from this economic downturn more quickly. You can read the full article on LinkedIn here: April’s U.S. hiring plunged 23.9%, but a few vital sectors kept adding people.