The Old Town Team: Exploring a City of Contradictions

As a thought experiment, we take the guidebook/news media prose typically used to describe China and flip it on a stately American city.

Boston, a city where tradition and modernity co-exist in uneasy juxtaposition. It is a place with a rich history, much of it unfortunately buried under the detritus of modernization and economic development. The visitor will no doubt be disappointed that locals have abandoned their traditional dress for blue jeans and baseball caps. Where are the doublets and breaches? The exotic local maidens in their stays?

Indeed, it can be hard to find a true native in the city center. 20 years ago, it was still common to see the broad pale faces, the wide hips, and gin-blossomed noses of the indigenous population. Now the city is overrun with visitors from around the world, and displaced families are increasingly forced to live outside of the city in planned communities with aspirational appellations stolen from around the world. Place names like “Plymouth,” “Ipswich,” and “Newton” demonstrate the extent to which local developers have long worshipped the foreign at the expense of their own culture.