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© City of Boston Archives/Flickr
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Revitalizing Boston's City Hall Plaza May Be Possible After All

Picture of Casey Campbell
Updated: 21 December 2016
Ask any Bostonian what the ugliest building in the city is and you’ll get one answer – City Hall. Architecturally speaking, Boston is usually on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to its buildings. Either they date back to the pre-Revolutionary War era and carry the history and elegance of that time, or they are new, cutting-edge office spaces and apartments. City Hall fits into neither of these categories, and after 50 years, Bostonians are finally witnessing a successful revitalization plan.

Designs for City Hall Plaza began in 1962 with the massive demolition of the former Scollay Square, creating the Plaza and the Government Center area. It seems that as soon as construction began, residents started to submit ideas for improvement. Although there have been a plethora of suggestions over the years, few have actually been enacted. Mayor Marty Walsh has made this a priority during his first two years in office.

While no plans to completely deconstruct City Hall are in place, Mayor Walsh has put in serious provisions to revitalize the surrounding space. In recent years, the most excitement that comes to the Plaza is the annual visit by the Big Apple Circus, and an occasional concert. Increasingly, events are filling the space, but it is often left as an empty, gray lot.

The most recent move by the Walsh administration was awarding Delaware North Cos., the owners of TD Garden, a chance to remake the plaza. Their plan is ambitious, including everything from a Ferris wheel to an ‘urban beach.’

This vision is far in the future, and for now, the city is working to make the Plaza a frequently used space. This summer it’s been turned into a beer garden, and public events are being held more frequently. Boston Magazine pointed out in a recent article that the present-day use of City Hall should reflect how locals use the space. No longer is it oft-used by residents filing complaints with the city – that can now be done online. As Boston continues to adapt and grow into a modern city, City Hall Plaza will either be redefined or live on as the ugliest building in Boston.