12.27.09

4 days in Boston, now off to NYC

Posted in Travel Log (N. America & Europe) at 10:10 am by Benjamin Ross

Well, it’s a rainy Sunday morning, and I’m just about to wrap up my four plus day stay in Boston. I’ve spent most of my time wandering various sections of Boston and the surrounding communities and have taken a lot of pictures, but am going to wait until I get back to Chicago for a more thorough update. I must say though that Boston is definitely one of the more livable cities in the United States. Thanks to it being so old and so much of it developing before the automobile, most of the city is a maze of winding narrow streets, all scrunched together in no particular pattern, with many of them leading either in circles or dead ends. I’m sure driving is horrendous, but as far as exploring the city via foot and public transportation, nothing could be more ideal.

I’ve spent the past four days exploring some of the oldest (and best preserved) luxury neighborhoods in the country, such as Beacon Hill, and my own personal favorite, the South End, a well as some of the more run down parts such as Roxbury and Dorchester, where my Grandpa (and most elder Bostonian Jews) grew up. I was warned by several people not to explore these neighborhoods out of safety concerns, but have found that the hoodier parts of Boston are not nearly as scary as some of the neighborhoods on the South and West Side of Chicago I’ve had to travel through for work. The major reason for this I am postulating is that Boston was never as heavily industrial as Chicago, and therefore the deindustrialization of the second half of the 21st Century didn’t hit quite so hard. In this respect, I am quite eager to see the contrast with Philadelphia, which I am guessing will have as much, if not even more, blight than Chicago.

Boston also has an excellent smattering of ethnicities. Unlike Chicago where ethnic boundaries generally have clear boundaries and don’t mix, Boston’s ethnic enclaves feel more eclectic. On one street you might see a Brazilian restaurant, a Chinese bakery, and an Eastern European deli. The Chinatown is located essentially downtown, in an area which is gentrifying. I encountered significant quantities of Chinese people, and Chinese businesses all throughout the city, so I’m guessing the population isn’t necessarily centered around Chinatown. I also visited the new satellite Chinatown located in Quincy, south of Boston proper. It isn’t large, but I imagine as rents are increasing in Chinatown, more and more Chinese are relocating to Quincy. Seemed like most residents of both Chinatowns were either from Taishan or Fuzhou.

In a few hours I’m off to New York City, currently the home of the largest population of Chinese in the Western Hemisphere. Chinese New York is especially of interest to me because it is the hub of the Fuzhou > US immigration ring which spans the globe, sends millions of dollars to remittances to China, and millions of pounds of General Tso’s chicken down the throats of Americans in cities and small towns all across the US. I’m also going to be looking at two universities, visiting some old friends, and hopefully exploring as much of the city as possible via foot and public transportation as I’ve done in Boston. I’m going to be taking the infamous Fung Wa bus to New York, which several Bostonians have advised me against doing, but hey, how much more dangerous could it be than one of those rural buses in China? More updates to come.

3 Comments »

  1. shan China said,

    December 28, 2009 at 8:26 am

    i’m a huge fan of the fung wah bus, and only recently got lured away by free wifi on megabus and bolt bus. sure there are some issues with a couple of buses here and there, but given the # of routes they run per day, i figure the chances of something going wrong on my bus are really low

    ah, and my group of friends refer to beacon hill/financial area/north end as no man’s land. even after living in boston for 5+ years, we still get lost in the maze of circuitous streets. i basically know a couple of the more major ones and hope that if i just keep going, i’ll come across one of them eventually

  2. JB United States said,

    December 28, 2009 at 10:17 am

    The only annoying thing about the Fung Wah bus is the 17,000,000 people in Chinatown who can’t find it and wander around aimlessly with their suitcases.

  3. dalianershou China said,

    December 31, 2009 at 1:37 am

    i figure the chances of something going wrong on my bus are really low

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