Updates on URBANOLOGY

Boston’s Random Street Grid

Alley near Omni Parker House hotel

Alley near Omni Parker House hotel

… makes driving miserable, but  walking great. The pre-automobile layout of the Back Bay and North End resembles European cities. Narrow streets and alleys – many of them part of the Freedom Trail walking tour – curve and meander to reveal hidden piazzas and tiny but stately squares.

The merchants of Boston clearly benefit from this car-unfriendly design. The North End’s Salem Street teems with dozens of small Italian restaurants, each more alluring than the last, and each full of customers.

It has long been mythologized that Boston’s original street grid evolved from cow paths winding through original forests and hills. Whether true or not, it’s great that the city never straightened it in some misguided fit of urban renewal. It’s part of what gives the city its great charm.

Great for bike riding too.

-- Jack Skelley

Salem Street.

Salem Street.