As a proud New Yorker and New Jerseyan, viewing Boston as a bitter rival is essentially in my blood. Whether it be Yankees-Sox, Mets-Sox (hello, 1986), Jets-Patriots (f*ck you, Bill Belichick), or Giants-Patriots (hello, 2007 & 2011), family, friends and loved ones of mine have loathed Boston, their teams, and their fans for the entirety of my life.
However, outside of their annoyingly successful sports teams, everything I’ve ever heard about Boston has been overwhelmingly positive. Whether it be about the food, the community, the Marathon, Fenway Park– everything I’ve ever heard about Boston, whether it be from residents or tourist — has been nothing short of spectacular. So when the nice folks over at Gillette offered me a chance to fly up for a couple days to see the city and take in a Yankees vs Red Sox game at Fenway, I jumped at the opportunity.
Now, it’s important to remember that I was only in Boston for about 30 hours and the weather wasn’t all that friendly for the time of year. Were there other areas of the city that I never saw that likely represent the more authentic side of Bean Town? Absolutely. But we’re here to talk about Boston and the first things I noticed about the historic city from an outsider’s point-of-view.
So, with that in mind, these are the five things this New Yorker learned about Boston while visiting for the first time.
Are cities allowed to be this clean?
The first thing I noticed upon touching down in Boston was how damn clean the city is.
Growing up in New Jersey and New York City, cleanliness is not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind when talking about those areas. Maybe this is the fault of New York City itself (which, according to my parents, has radically cleaned itself up over the last 30 years but is still a shithole nonetheless) but I half expect all cities to have a certain level of filth built in.
But, nope, not Boston. There was no pervasive smell of shit, no garbage bags lining the streets, no construction sites every other block — the city looks like it gets a nightly cleaning by every fraternity pledge in the city.
Zombie apocalypse-levels of quiet
Once I arrived at my hotel (the Boston Park Plaza, it was gorgeous, so shout out to them & Gillette), I had a couple of hours to kill before we headed to Fenway, so I decided to stroll around the area for a bit to find somewhere to grab a bite. After I wrapped my head around the notion that cities could, in fact, be clean, I noticed how quiet it was … almost too quiet.
No bicycle bells warning clueless pedestrians, no impatient cab drivers honking at the car in front of them, no crackheads arguing on the corner: I felt like I was walking through a city that had been wiped out by a zombie infection — that’s how quiet it was.
Fenway Park, on the other hand, was a different story.
Everyone doesn’t sound like Ben Affleck in The Town.
This one surprised me the most, as I expected everyone to sound like Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting and Ben Affleck in The Town. Now, while I was mostly at Fenway Park and the business area of Boston (meaning there were likely mostly tourists around me), the lack of Boston accents I encountered was wildly disappointing, to say the least. However, maybe that’s on me for expecting Boston to be like Ben Affleck’s movie version of it.
The only true Boston accent I encountered on my travels was at lunch before we left for the airport. We went to Atlantic Fish Company on Boylston Street and our waiter was like a supporting character ripped out of The Departed. Hearing him offer us their famous “Clam Chowduuh” in that patented Boston accent made the entire trip worthwhile.
The hype about their Lobster Roll is real AF
Speaking of Atlantic Fish Company, I had a Lobster Roll for lunch, and, well, sheeeeesh. I’m getting the itis just thinking about it. Really, the seafood, in general, was the best I ever had: calamari, oysters, shrimp, lobster — something about their seafood is just a cut above New York City’s. Then again, I’m no seafood expert and was prettttyyy baked on my pre-flight brownie when we went out to lunch, so take kindly take my culinary analysis with a grain of salt.
It’s easy to see why people are so proud of being from Bostom
All this said, I absolutely loved Boston. Despite the unseasonably cool weather that was sweeping the Northeast at the time of my visit, I could immediately tell why people loved the city so much. The streets are clean, the air is fresh, the seafood is excellent, but most importantly, the world-famous sense of togetherness and community was clear.
As a guy who is wildly proud of being from New York City, I respect the hell out of how much Bostonians love being from Boston and I can’t wait to go back because of it.