The World We’ve Built

Dusk catches the tram on its way down from a 250’ peak, dazzling & dizzying its 125 passengers. At 1,396’, 432 Park Ave stands proud as the tallest residence in the Western Hemisphere, home to 125 condos. Every 12 floors, two storeys of the building’s 30’ concrete spine are left open to the wind.

From the control tower room, the runways look like a playmat and the planes like tin toys—much easier to move around that way. There is so much infrastructure here. Runways, barges, piers, windmills, wastewater treatment plants, homes, planes, trucks, cranes, coastlines… Person included for scale.

Analog signs brightly declare their enduring messages above flitting, flashy advertisements. The husks of payphones sulk in the shadows of the cell-phone era. Retrofitted security cameras gawk, a googly-eyed Big Brother. And through it all: the next—Orange Line—train to—Forest Hills—is now arriving.

Since 2014, the condo sales website for this building has said it sits in “the coveted Lower Garden district”. The Planning Commission map draws a different line: this is the St. Thomas Development neighborhood. In 1991, St. Thomas led the city’s projects in violent crime. It was demolished in 2001.

Bridges for all types nestle snugly along the contours of the Charles on a snowy morning. The piles of the Zakim hoist morning car traffic out of sight; the North Bank Bridge bends a leisurely walking/biking path through to Paul Revere Park; twin rail drawbridges shepherd commuters to North Station.

In hobbycraft, there is a tool that simulates grass by crackling electricity through fibers of dyed nylon, standing them up on their ends. A similar phenomenon can be found on summer strolls through public parks with an approaching storm, if the right contact brushes your arm and sets you aflight.

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