Monday, December 13, 2010

Boston Part 1: A Little Baseball, Science and Politics

As you could probably imagine, Boston takes up the majority of The List, since it is the largest city in New England.  So, in order to get it all in and do all the sites justice, lets just make Boston our little "ongoing series".  There is no city in the country as steeped in American history like Boston, home to America's first public school and the first subway system.  It is often called The Cradle of Modern America or the Cradle of Liberty due to its great impact on the American Revolution.  The sites in Boston that are on The List certainly reflect and represent this rich historical aspect of the city but also incorporates other sides of Boston's personality. 

When one visits Boston, the first stop has to be Fenway Park.  Opening in 1912, it is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium in current use and is the oldest venue used by a professional sports team in the U.S.  The park has a few quirky features, such as "The Triangle", "Pesky's Pole" and most notably the "Green Monster" in left field.  Many other things have taken place at Fenway Park other than baseball.  It plays hosts to other sporting events such as football, hockey and non-sporting events such as concerts and political campaigns.  There are two statues in front of Fenway: one of Ted Williams and the other of "The Teammates", which commemorates the great friendship between the players of Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, Dom Dimaggio and Bobby Doerr.  A must-see when visiting Boston.

The Teammates

Ever since moving to the area, it was recommended to me from nearly everyone I met that I had to take in the Museum of Science.  It almost became embarrassing to say that I had not been to the Museum of Science.  People's reaction to that news was astonishing.  "What!?  You've never been to the Museum of Science!?!?"  I got that response so much I was able to time it.  "You know, I've never been to the Museum of Science.  (wait for it...NOW!)"  Seven years later, and thanks to The List, I now had the motivation to go. 

Seated across the Charles River, the museum began as the Boston Society of Natural History in 1830.  After World War II, the museum opened as the Museum of Science and negotiated a 99-year lease  of the land where it sits on now, paying the state $1 a year for use of the land.  Construction began in 1948 and finally opened in 1951, becoming the first all-encompassing science museum in the country.  The planetarium opened in 1958 and has recently undergone a renovation to upgrade it.  The museum is home to the world's largest Van de Graaf generator, designed by Dr. Van de Graaf himself and donated to the museum by MIT in 1956.  It is used in the museum's electricity exhibit and is one of the most popular attractions.  Another attraction is located in the food court.  At first glance, they look normal, everyday stairs leading up to the planetarium.  When walked on, the emit a piano key sound with every step.  The Musical Stairs is a favorite among children, and yes, fine, I had fun going up and down it as well.  It was tough holding back my enjoyment. 

Dreams of being an astronaut

Staring contest--GO!

Visiting relatives

The State House, or "New" State House, is the seat of government of Massachusetts which holds the state legislature and the offices of the Governor.  It sits in the neighborhood of Beacon Hill on land once owned by John Hancock, the state's first elected governor.  The architect, Charles Bulfinch, was inspired by two London buildings: the Somerset House and the Pantheon.  The State House is widely known for its golden dome, which is to signify a president came from the state.  The original wood dome suffered leaks and was covered with copper in 1802 by Paul Rever's company, who was the first American to successfully roll copper into sheets in a commercially viable manner.  The dome was first painted gray and then light yellow.  In 1874 it was gilded with gold leaf.  During World War II, the dome was painted black to prevent reflections during blackouts to protect the city from bombing attacks.  In 1997, the dome was re-gilded in 23k gold.  The dome is topped with a pine cone symbolizing the importance of Boston's lumber industry in the early colonial days and of the state of Maine, which was a district of Massachusetts when it was completed by Bulfinch.  The statues in front of the building are of General Jospeh Hooker, Daniel Webster, educator Horace Mann and President John F. Kennedy.  There are also statues of Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer located on the lawns below the east and west wings.