A couple of years ago, I walked from Boston to New York along the original road to New York, the Old Boston Post Road. This route took me from downtown Boston, in front of the Old State House (shown at left), to Battery Park in Lower Manhattan. The first seven miles passed through the City of Boston, through Downtown Crossing, Chinatown, the South End, Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, and West Roxbury, before continuing on into Dedham and beyond. Many of these areas I had never visited before, despite the fact I went to high school just outside Boston (Braintree), and have lived continuously in the city proper for more than 25 years. It occurred to me that I needed to get out more and explore the city in which I have spent the majority of my life.
A couple of years have passed while I fiddled around with the idea of what to do with a blog about Boston. I needed a theme or a focal point, or so I thought. Many of my friends have subsequently helped me to realize that perhaps that is not a prerequisite to starting the project and that, perhaps, I was using the lack of focus as an excuse for not embarking upon the project. It has also been pointed out to me by those who know me well, that I have accumulated reams of data, facts, and interesting stories about the city over the last few decades and that most of this material sits in folders in my file cabinet. Some have suggested that I release this material from its dark prison so that others may be able to enjoy it. I have decided to do just that. The consequence of this non-thematic approach may be that the site has a certain unfocused quality. In hindsight I now realize this is in fact the thematic core of this project: to ramble both literally and figuratively and to allow my feet and imagination to take me where they will. You have been warned.
I would briefly like to mention some people who have influenced the direction this project will take, in order to give the reader a sense of where it might be heading. First and foremost comes Henry David Thoreau. I can only dream of replicating the simultaneous simplicity and depth of his philosophical musings, but I would be lying if I said I was not trying to emulate him. Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux both write in styles that suit my diverse aspirations and sensibilities: Chatwin is lyrical, poetic, and mystical, while Theroux is practical, clear-eyed, and polemical. I like them both very much but for very different reasons. Two more direct influences : Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out for the Territory, a book about somebody wandering through London and writing about exactly the sorts of things I want to write about, and The Bowery Boys History Blog, an excellent website I utilized quite a bit as I made my way down the Post Road in New York City. Much as the Beatles stole sounds and ideas they liked and called it an homage, I too am not ashamed to say that I will gladly appropriate good ideas from those who have come before me.
And so, I hope the reader will enjoy what I am trying to do. It may take a while for this project to get rolling properly but, as the saying goes, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.