Sunday, April 01, 2007

I'm NOT Smarter Than a Fifth Grader

We did some fun condo shopping yesterday:-) I suppose if I had actual money and was looking for a real place to live it would be less fun and more depressing...it is kind of embarrassing how incredibly expensive some really kinda crappy apartments can be. (This one looks nice, though...anyone have a little money I can borrow?)

But it was a beautiful day and I love meandering around the city with my girls.

I am putting off my story from Saturday again, because I have other stuff to talk about today. Now you will probably all be disappointed because there is a three-day buildup to this story, and it is not that good a story, at least not to deserve that kind of a build-up... Today you get a quick geography lesson (because this is an educational blog...) which ends with me being a dumbass.

Much of Boston is landfill. In the 1800's there was a series of massive civil works projects to fill in the low areas around the city with landfill brought in from the suburbs. The final result more than doubled the amount of usable land in the city. This is why the "Back Bay" is called that, but is no longer actually a body of water.

One result of this is that the Back Bay is one of the only parts of the city with nice square blocks. While many cities have nice straight streets that are easily numbered and make it easy to get around, Boston is known for its 300 year-old, winding, complicated and difficult-to-navigate streets. The phrase "paving the cow path" was (I think) coined in reference to Boston. The Back Bay, however, was laid out all at once and everything is square.

If you take a look at this map, you can see this...starting from the Public Garden (upper right hand corner) and moving left, the streets are nice and straight. People often refer to places in the area by mentioning one of the major east-west streets (Beacon, Boylston, Commonwealth Ave., Newbury and Marlborough) and one of the smaller cross streets. My favorite restaurant, for example, is "on Boylston near Fairfield".

There is a point to my telling you this, I promise...but first this totally weird note: there were six women on the Comm Ave. mall at the intersection of Fairfield St (on the red star in that map) that were boxing. Gloves, punching, everything. Can anyone explain this to me? One of them appeared to have been knocked out and was being given medical attention...

So, yesterday we were out walking, and Munchkin said something about a place and mentioned that it wasn't "all the way to Dartmouth, but it is definitely past Berkeley and I think past Clarendon." I was kind of impressed and asked her how it is that she had memorized the order of all the cross streets.

Well, she looked at me like I was an idiot and said "You do realize they are alphabetical and there is one for each letter, don't you?" Hmm...no, I didn't realize that, smartass. So I mentally started clicking them off...Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, Hereford... First I was impressed that she knew this. And then I was horribly ashamed because I had never noticed this, and she figured it out before I did.

So yes, I am a dumbass. I have lived here for a year and a half and never noticed that all the streets in the Back Bay are alphabetical. That is, until my 11 year old sister pointed it out to me..

6 comments:

Ally said...

Hilarious. I don't think I would have noticed that either.

And thanks for the little geography lesson...perhaps I am now as smart as a 5th grader:)

Kate said...

lmao. she's too cute. and don't worry about it. kids are always way smarter than we give them credit for.

k.d. said...

thanks for the lesson! the day comes when i visit boston and then i might need it! :)

Aaron said...

You're independently wealthy. Just go and and splurge. :D

I wonder if the women boxing were part of BLOWW? (I think that's the funniest damn thing I've ever seen since I heard about it.)

Accidentally Me said...

Aaron - Just as I was complaining that no one wrote about the boxing note...

Jennifer said...

san francisco has the same alphabetical street thing happening but it is slighty imperfect at the beginning of the alphabet, which made me doubt the reality of such a simple layout to a city.