Tuesday, October 27, 2015

What Central Square are we trying to preserve?

Sometimes, it takes really looking to see.

Here are some photos of Central Square in Cambridge. It is the Central Square that I inherited when I moved to Cambridge in the 1990s. It's presumably the same Central Square that existed when a prior generation of middle-class, educated immigrants moved here in the 1980s, and no doubt the same Central Square that existed even back in the 1970s for yet another prior generation, if anyone can remember back that far. In other words, nothing has changed in 40 years.

Nevertheless, for whatever reason, this land is considered sacred to some, cannot be touched, should not be changed. In other words, we should saddle another two generations of Cantabrigians, native and immigrant alike, with as equally hostile an urban environment as we were blessed with ... lifeless, aggressive, uninviting, useless.

Um, by the way, it's basically all parking lots for blocks and blocks along Bishop Allen Drive near Prospect Street.

Essex Street, looking west

Norfolk Street, looking west

Norfolk Street, looking east

The Norfolk Street lots, together

Essex and Bishop Allen, looking south

Vail Court, parking lot joined to an empty building

Bishop Allen, looking north

Prospect Street (Lyndell's), oh, and btw, both buildings in this photo are unoccupied

Prospect Street, the old Cambridge College building (now empty)

Prospect Street - the Whole Foods lot

Temple Street, looking east

So I ask again, what Central Square are we trying to preserve? Honestly, why are we trying to preserve this? What sensibility says this is what we deserve? What design esthetic says we've arrived at some realization of our goal? What version of creativity says it can never be better? Nevermind that we don't need this much parking, we shouldn't have this much parking. Nevermind that each of these parking lots is less than a tenth of a mile from a T stop and many major bus lines.

Oh yes, and every photo in this post (except for the Whole Foods parking lot, which is just outside this map) was taken in this small area ...