Thought #1: Mass. Ave. doesn't know what it is or what it wants to be. It's spent the last 100 years trying to figure itself out, but without great success. It's incoherent, urbanistically.
Look at these photos. They are of neighboring buildings (heading west to east) along the avenue from Hancock to Lee Streets.
|904 Mass Ave: Single-story storefront (1915)|
|900 Mass Ave: Of the English manor style, brick, more appropriate for the Back Bay (1900)|
|898 Mass Ave: Wood-framed country house, appropriate to Central Connecticut (1920)|
|896 Mass Ave: Single story retail (1920)|
|888 Mass Ave: Six stories, apartment living (1889)|
|878 Mass Ave: Wood-framed, sandwiched between two much taller buildings (1890, People's Republik 1937)|
|872 Mass Ave: Nine-stories 1970s unpleasantness (1979)|
Below is a graph of these building heights in order heading east to west along the avenue from Central Square. The tallest building is 9 stories and was built in 1979. The next tallest is 6 stories and was built in 1889. Everything else was built between 1915 and 1937 and ranges from 1 to 4 stories. It's schizophrenic.
Thought #2: Amy Alvey and Mark Kilianski, aka "Hoot and Holler", played the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge last night. They are fabulous. I highly recommend going to hear them when you get the chance. Here they make their (beautiful) music together: