Boston Neck

People were brought here to hang; and a gate stretched across, and the city was locked.


I think a lot about the Boston Neck, the narrow entryway into what used to be the Shawmut Peninsula, the actual land on which the city was built before it built the rest of the land for itself. Like many major cities before the modern period, Boston had a gate that was locked at night. Nothing remains of it now. It is one intersection among many. This part of Boston, once a key to its peace and war, disappeared so gradually that there is nothing left to mark it, except a nearby restaurant called The Gallows. For an excellent short read on the Neck’s grim history, see here.

I’m not a native of Boston; I have no family roots here. The long dull story as to why I keep moving back here has nothing to do with my fascination with the land itself. In fact, I hated it when I was young, just coming from the low warm alluvial plains where almost everything was laid out in a grid. Boston was cold and hard and the buildings crowded like crooked teeth. What I did not understand was how Boston has been written on and written over so many times, like a European city, and, like European cities, has written on the towns all around it.