I found this vintage postcard in one of my favorite Boston stores, Eugene Galleries, a small antiques and rummage shop on Charles Street in Beacon Hill. I have spent hours perusing the vintage memorabilia, postcards, love notes, lithographs, and pen and ink drawings. I have found many gifts there and love stopping in whenever I am in the neighborhood.
For those who can’t make out the text, it reads,
I’m wand’ring round in BOSTON-town,
And havin’ the “time of my life;”
I never saw such crooked streets,
As here a stranger meets.
But ah! these sights I see are famed in history.
So, if I find my way about, I’ll write you
how it all came out.
This sums up Boston perfectly. There is an urban myth that the streets of Boston were created by paving over cow paths. It kind of makes sense. New York is a grid; D.C. has quadrants; Boston has crooked streets that meander, small alleys that have cobblestones, and architecture that makes me want to peek inside windows and daydream. The more likely story though is that the topography consisted of a lack of urban planning, various underwater springs that tend to run dry during different seasons, and most interestingly, speculation that narrow winding streets would be a deterrent from attacks by the French, pirates, or various other “undesirables” of the time. I mean, I have seen enough 21st century drivers nearly cause accidents just by staring too long at the Davis Square street sign:
But the streets are what I love about Boston, the ability to wander around aimlessly among the same paths that the original settlers walked on. We may not be as glamorous as New York, as gritty as Philly, the political arena that is D.C., or have the beaches of LA, but we have our ridiculous street maps, and if the British attack us again, the best cow paths on which to get lost.