Take a walk in Boston’s Common Park one day in 1860 with two men discussing verse. Well, actually, it’s one of them, middle-aged and exquisitely mannered, with a singsong voice; the other is a brash and determined young man. The first, Ralph Waldo Emerson, defends the position that his companion, Walt Whitman, who had sent him his first book, Blades of grass—, could soften its most explicit passages, removing from this edition some of the poems with sexual allusions. The pretext is that such a thing would improve the sales of the collection of poems; however, Whitman would refuse the advice, although he would always remember this conversation with the most important thinker of the 19th century in the United States.
This city in the state of Massachusetts is full of this type of little literary history, like that of this park, one of the oldest in the United States, since it dates back to 1634. Its famous university, Harvard, located in the adjacent to the city of Cambridge and founded two years later, it would see Emerson himself giving a lecture to graduates of the Faculty of Theology which would anger conservative members of the institution for presenting another way of conceiving Christianity, looking at Jesus face to face and away from him. pulpits and doctrines. Today, a plaque in the chapel where he spoke his words recalls this July 15, 1838, key to what was to become the transcendentalist movement.
The great Bostonian philosopher, settled from an early age in the neighboring town of Concord, will have time to get to know – he died in 1882 – the Museum of Fine Arts, opened in 1876, whose structure and facade recall the Metropolitan Museum in New York. In fact, it contains the second largest US permanent collection behind the MET, also built in the same decade. This fine arts museum in Boston is beautiful and diverse, with incredible Egyptian antiquities, a special collection of Japanese ceramics and many more that include European decorative arts from the Middle Ages to 1950, as well as a host of great works by authors such as El Greco, Velázquez or Rembrandt, French Impressionists and American painters of the 18th and 19th centuries such as Singleton Copley or John Singer Sargent.
Such an experience, valuable for the visitor, can be complemented by a visit to the nearby Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which houses some 2,500 European, Asian and American works and was created on the initiative of a patron of the 19th century; Paintings by Vermeer or Manet were lost due to a robbery in 1990, still unsolved, but it is possible to appreciate here the enormous The Abduction of Europe, by Titian, among other masterful paintings. There is also another highly recommended museum in the city: the Institute of Contemporary Art, a fabulous building by the architecture studio Diller Scofidio + Renfro which houses exhibition halls, a bookshop, a theater and a restaurant.
Between books and concerts
In addition to the possibility of entering the artistic field, the traveler will be able to enter the Science Museum, next to the Charles River, with a planetarium and a theater with a huge screen in IMAX format. Additionally, a zoo awaits in the city which is home to a hundred creatures that have been rescued from different dangerous situations; its origin is found in 1830, by the Boston Society of Natural History. It was the stage where the United States was looking for its identity, already detached from British rule, and would see the construction of buildings as beautiful as the public library, in 1848, with a spectacular main reading room.
It was the first major municipal library in the country and is accessible free of charge. You won’t regret it if you enter its rooms and admire its paintings or its interior patio with garden. It is on a square next to the Church of the Trinity, the so-called Romanesque church Richardsonian (name taken from American architect Henry Hobson Richardson) which developed as a variant of neo-romantic architecture. The library, among the most important in the country with that of Congress, in Washington, and that of Harvard, has some 15 million books, 600,000 photographs and 350,000 old maps, and was designed by Rafael Guastavino, who emigrated to 1887 of Valencia and who had patented a tile arch system with which he was successful in many places in North America.
This cultural day between museums and libraries can continue with another very special site: the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, cradle of the original papers and correspondence of the Administration of the 35th guest of the White House.
And, ultimately, what could be better for the music-loving tourist than to sit down and listen to good music, continuing in buildings erected in the 19th century, such as the Boston Music Hall, from 1852, which would be the seat of the Symphony Orchestra at the end of the century in Boston. In 1906 it was renamed Orpheum Theater and is today a benchmark for live music by many soloists and groups of different styles. We also have the famous Boston Pops Orchestra, which was founded in 1885 to tackle the hits of both classical music and musical theatre; his records, at their time, were the best-selling in the world in their genre. To all this we must add the Boston Symphony Orchestra, born in 1881, whose concert hall is the Symphony Hall and is considered one of the five most important in the world.
In any case, whether the city is already known or not, you can to come back still in Boston reading one of its most famous authors, honored with the statue Poe back in Boston, in Edgar Allan Poe Square, in a corner of the Common; the same park where there is another work titled Learningwith a seated young man reading a book, symbolizing the permanent desire to train and learn.
Toni Montesinos is the author of ‘Kafka’s K-offensive. A sacred and pure writer (Baltic, 2021).
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