Monday, November 11, 2013

Boston Public Garden

View Larger Map

While I was in Boston a while back, I wandered into the city's Public Garden to look around for a bit. Formal landscaped gardens like this were very popular in the 19th Century, and into the early 20th. Looking around, I was immediately struck by the idea that Portland's Laurelhurst Park -- which is rather fancy by Portland park standards -- is a cheap imitation of Boston's Public Garden, or at least a cheap imitation of the general style. Boston has a lake, we have a smaller lake with water quality issues. Boston has meticulously tended lawns and flowers, we have grass and many rhododendron bushes. They have swans, we have lots of Canada geese and a couple of herons. They have famous Swan Boats, we... don't. They have a famous bridge over their pond, we... don't. They have statues and fountains scattered around the garden, we have this 1980 stainless steel whatzit. And so on.

Boston as a whole kept reminding me of Portland, in the sense that it felt like I was now seeing the original and realizing I lived in a low-budget, semi-skilled imitation. It wasn't like that all the time, mind you; there's nothing in Portland anything like the North End, for instance, and Portland seems to have quit with the imitating after 1950 or so. But I saw resemblances every so often, and it was disconcerting. I imagine this is what a trip to Paris is like when the only Eiffel Tower you've ever seen is the silly Las Vegas one. At least the beer's better here, and it snows a lot less. So there's that.

There's more to the park than what you see in this slideshow. I more or less made a beeline across the park, heading from Boston Common toward the Back Bay neighborhood, since I was actually trying to find some coffee at the time. Thus I didn't walk around the entire pond, or track down every last exotic plant or obscure Victorian statue hidden down a side path. I suppose I could have done that, but I think I captured the gist of the place. And to reiterate, I needed coffee. You know how it is.

No comments :