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Update to the Boston To Do List

Our time in Boston is quickly coming to an end, which means I have very little time left to get through this list. I keep thinking of more things I want to do, but I’ve accepted that this list will go unfinished. 

Here’s what I’ve accomplished from the original list.

The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum -

Look at this courtyard. This alone is worth the visit. In fact, I spent most of my time here and in the ground floor rooms around it. My favorite thing besides the courtyard was the Spanish cloister. The hall is lined with 2000 painted tiles that Gardner’s artist friend, Dodge Macknight, brought her from Mexico. Gardner installed the tiles herself.

Peabody Museum - I visited on a whim one afternoon and learned about Harvard’s Native American history. The college’s 1650 founding charter states it will educate "English & Indian Youth of this Country in knowledge: and godliness.” The first brick building on campus was the Harvard Indian College. Only five or six names of Native American students who attended the college are certain; only Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck graduated, and he died of tuberculosis a year later. His classmate, Joel Iacoomes, was to be valedictorian that year, but died before graduation. In 2011, Harvard awarded him a posthumous degree. 

 Sonic Arboretum

Sonic Arboretum

Institute of Contemporary Art - we went on the last day of the “When the Stars Began to Fall: Imagination and the American South” and the “Sonic Arboretum” exhibits. I went for the Stars exhibit, but I loved the Arboretum, which was a room full of these horn speakers playing an Andrew Bird composition. Also fun: the hallway overlooking the harbor and the living room-sized elevator. 

Whale-watching - I audited a marine biology class this semester, and as the year-end field trip, we went whale-watching. Last semester, I went on a field trip to a chocolate factory, and now, whale-watching. Field trips are really cool at Harvard. 

We saw one Sei whale. Apparently they are a rare sight.

Christian Science Plaza - I still have some exploring to do here, but we did go on the Mapparium tour. It’s only about 15 minutes long, but it’s really bizarre and wonderful. The tour takes you into the three-story, stained glass globe of the world as it was in 1935. There’s a light show, which means various parts of the globe light up as you hear “welcome” in different languages. This sounds cheesy, and it is a little bit, but it’s still presented in a way that made me a little teary-eyed.

Great Molasses Flood plaque in Puopolo Park - I almost gave up on this when we went to look for it. It’s described as “easy to miss.” That is true. If you’re looking for this plaque, it’s in the low, stone wall near the entrance of the park, in between Puopolo and Langone Parks. If you’re looking at the bocce pits with your back to the street, it’s on the right. 

So that’s about six things out of twenty on the list.

But I've also done things that weren’t on the list, like biking to Walden Pond and swimming in it again, even though it was breath-takingly cold; ringing the bells in the Lowell House bell tower (“houses” are where the students live, but you would never call these accommodations “dorms”); handling Ansel Adams prints in one of the libraries; and spending an hour in a Harvard art museum study room with my favorite images, Andre Kertesz’s “Chez Mondrian.” And then there are new things I’ve learned about that should go on the list, like visiting Spot Pond in the Middlesex Fells Reservation, or the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, or taking a ferry to one of the Harbor Islands. 

We have visitors this weekend, which usually means more sight-seeing… and maybe tackling a few more of these “To-Dos.” For those with Boston experience, I welcome any suggestions on the one thing we have to do before we leave.