Yesterday, from 10 in the morning until after 6:30 in the evening, Newbury Street in Boston’s Back Bay was closed to motor traffic from Berkeley Street to Massachusetts Avenue in an experiment called Open Newbury. It was fantastic. People shopped or sat on stoops or chairs and people-watched, bands played, children ran in the street and restaurants and cafes were filled to bursting.
There were vastly more people on the street than could ever be on Newbury’s narrow sidewalks.
Free of the need to watch for traffic, one could linger without annoying other strollers and actuyally enjoy the beautiful architecture.
This building at the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth has some great Middle Eastern-inspired window details.
It seemed like every store was crowded. Everywhere the sound of conversation and music replaced the noise of traffic.
People took back the streets and took them back hard. At Hereford Street three or four people with orange City of Boston staff ID’s on lanyards were run ragged trying to get people to stop to allow cars to pass and Clarendon Street was at a crawl because no one was letting cars past.
There were a few issues. There were no barriers or signs at the Massachusetts Avenue end, which could have presented conflicts.
And quite frankly, the infrastructure really couldn’t support all those people walking. Every trash can was full to overflowing by 3:00 pm.
Two important questions remain however: when is the next Open Newbury and when is Open Hanover?