Saturday, December 10, 2011

Boston: A faux-European City

PARTE 1: Boston vs. Madrid

Como os he dicho en el blog post de Londres, se dicen que Boston es la ciudad estadounidense que es más parecida a una ciudad europea.  Después de estudiar en Madrid en 2009, volví a Boston, y noté que había muchas cosas parecidas de las dos ciudades.  Empecé mezclar las dos ciudades a veces.

Por ejemplo, el Boston Common es como una versión pequeña del Parque del buen Retiro.  Un día, mi amiga Katie y yo caminábamos por el Boston Common, y quisimos almorzar.  Busque el café Faborit, me aseguré que estábamos cerca por la vista de la calle.  Pero Faborit es un café de Madrid en el Paseo del Prado.  So we went to 7/11 and got giant slurpees instead.

Después de mezclar las dos ciudades un poco, empecé pensar en Boston como una ciudad faux-europea.  (I'm going to continue this in English so more of you understand it.)  Maybe I mix Boston with Madrid because I have studied in both cities and associate them with college.  Although, I believe the cities actually do have quite a bit in common.  

You don't believe me?  Then let's play a game.  All the pictures below were either taken in Boston, London, or Madrid.  See if you can figure out which pictures are from Boston and which are from Europe.  The answers are at the bottom of this post.  (Obviously this will be easier for you if you have lived in one or more of these places.)  Please don´t cheat by looking through my facebook albums to figure out where the photos were taken.

PART II: Boston as a faux-European city

1. Faneuil Hall & Quincy Market (Boston) are like a mini version of Covent Garden (London).  Both places have craft markets, nice clothing and shoe stores, and food shops.  The buildings with the markets are set up in a similar fashion, so they look alike.  Furthermore, both have street performers to entertain shoppers.
Photo # 1 (photo from
Photo # 2 (photo from
2. A stroll through the Boston Common (Boston) feels very similar to a stroll through the Parque del Retiro (Madrid).  Both of these places are public parks in the middle of major cities.  Each has grassy areas, patches of trees, plants arranged creatively, food stands to buy unhealthy snacks, and more.  People go there for a nice walk on sunny afternoons.  You don´t want to be in either one of them at night.  Both have nice, artificial lakes with boats too.  
Photo # 3 (photo from
3. Duck tours.  You can take them Boston and London.  I recently thought this was unique to Boston, but then I saw a duct tour driving (on the opposite side of the road) in London.  I assume it was headed for the Thames River.

4. Rivers.  The Charles River (Boston) runs along the Esplanade, a great place to go for a run, have a picnic, or just enjoy the river view, which includes several universities and the city´s tall buildings...StuVi2 shoutout!  The Thames River (London) has a nice walkway with bridges, buildings, the Globe Theatre, etc.

5. Public Transportation.  Between the T (Boston), the Underground (London), and the Metro (many European cities), as well as the extensive bus system, public transportation is a common factor.  It´s easier to avoid driving.

6. The Public Garden (Boston) and El Jardín Botánico (Madrid) are both public gardens maintained by the city.  They each display a wide variety of regional plants.  They´re both right near large public parks, the Boston Common and El Parque del buen Retiro, respectively.  In London, the equivalent of these lovely gardens would be the Buckingham Palace Gardens or the Kensington Gardens.

Photo # 4 (photo from
7.  It rains a lot in Boston.  It rains a lot in London.  Rain boots are very stylish in both places.

8. Architecture: Boston is full of older looking buildings that are more ornamented than the buildings in most American cities.  So are many cities in Europe.  I'm not going to name specific buildings because there are too many.  It's a city-wide thing.  Based on the architecture alone, Boston feels older than other American cities.
Picture # 5

Picture # 6
9. Fences and Gates:  Let's not pretend that Buckingham Palace's (London) glorious gates look anything like the gates at Fenway Park (Boston).  I'm talking about gates around gardens, apartment buildings, and museums.  In addition to large, decorated buildings, the fences and gates around buildings are frequently more decorated in Boston than in other American cities.  Fences and gates provide a general atmosphere and give the city a certain "look."
Picture # 7
10. Boston, like a European city, is loaded with statues of generals on horses, and other important people from wars.  This type of statue is pretty popular around parts of Europe too - especially in London since England has been involved in so many wars in its history.  Obviously the statues commemorate different people and different wars, but the idea is the same.
Picture # 8
11.  Shall we chat about the fabulous shopping streets in these cities?  La Calle de Fuencarral / Gran Vía, and the Plaza de Callao (Madrid) are loaded with fashionable stores like Pepe Jeans London, Desigual, Skunkfunk, H&M, Pimkie, Mango, Blanco, Levi´s, Miss Sixty, and Diesel. Similar to this area, Newbury Street (Boston) is a lovely stroll in nice weather, and it has stores including Rugby, Madewell, American Apparel, Diesel, Lucky Brand Jeans, Urban Outfitters, Johnny Cupcakes, and Chanel, and Campers.  Boylston Street - also in Boston, has some pretty sweet stores too.  I´m less familiar with London´s shopping scene (surprising, right?), but I did find Brompton Road to be the equivalent of these, though a it was more designer-y.  On Brompton Road, you´ll find Harrods, TopShop, and Alexander McQueen, and many more stores.  Le Champs Elysses (Paris) is another nice long street with fabulous, albeit hugely expensive, shops.  All of these streets have Starbucks along with other cafés.
Picture # 9

Answer Key:
Photo #1: Boston - Quincy Market
Photo #2: London - Covent Garden
Photo #3: Madrid - El Parque del buen Retiro
Photo #4: Boston - Boston Public Garden
Photo #5: London - Harrods on Brompton Road
Photo #6: Boston - Near Newbury Street
Photo #7: Boston - Bay State Road (?)
Photo #8: Madrid
Photo #9: London

Post comments - Let me know how your guessing went!

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