Bookfest Explorer Series # 1: Boston, Massachusetts
Here at Detroit Bookfest we are starting a new series called the Bookfest Explorer Series.
This will be a collection of travel experiences whereby we will periodically document our literary travels, both domestic and abroad, to help highlight the global community of books.
First up, Boston.
Founded in 1630, Boston is the 7th oldest city in the United States. Featuring sunken red brick sidewalks and beautiful old buildings aplenty, the city is loaded with history and rows of opulent townhouses for blocks.
10 ½ Beacon Street
Open since 1807, non-members can tour the first floor of this exceptional private library for $10.00. All 12 floors are open to members.
The focus of the collection is arts and humanities. World-class paintings grace the walls and there are marble busts of philosophers on stands.
Through the rear window, you can see the grave of Paul Revere in the Granary Burying Ground! This old cemetery opened in 1660 and there are several historical grave sites here.
Also, as a bonus, check out the Paul Revere House (19 North Square). Built in 1680, it’s Boston’s oldest building. Paul Revere’s famous 1775 Midnight Ride started here.
Brattle Book Shop
9 West Street
Open since 1825, this great three-story used & rare bookstore also features an outdoor open-air courtyard full of books.
The third floor is the Rare Book Room. Marvelous stuff. Owner Ken Gloss is impressively knowledgeable.
Boston Public Library
700 Boylston Street
Open since 1848 and smartly situated in beautiful Copley Square, the BPL was the first large free municipal library in the United States.
Be sure to check out the gorgeous 2nd floor Bates Hall reading room.
Also located on the 2nd floor, the Abbey Room, looks medieval European ornate, walls adorned with giant murals of the Holy Grail tale and 150 life-size figures from Arthurian legend ring the room, staring down at you. Who says paintings can’t talk?
Parker House Hotel
60 School Street
This beautiful 14-floor hotel opened in 1855. Charles Dickens lived here on the 3rd floor from 1867-68. He read ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the Last Hurrah Bar inside the hotel for the first time in America. They have his original door (view it in the basement) and gigantic mirror (view it on the mezzanine level) here.
Also, of note, Ho Chi Minh was a pastry chef here 1911-13, Malcolm X was a busboy, the Boston Cream Pie was invented here, and President JFK was a frequent guest!
500 Harrison Ave
Cool bookstore specializing in academic library collection development. You can buy books from the private research libraries of art scholars.
I bought a book called ‘Ancient Roman Monuments’ by Pignatorre with 61 beautiful hand drawn plates, very mild foxing and spotting.
The Mapparium @ Mary Baker Eddy Library
200 Massachusetts Ave
Located next to the worldwide home of the Christian Science Church (which also houses the world’s 9th largest pipe organ), the Mary Bakery Eddy Library features a one-of-a-kind experience inside The Mapparium.
For only $6.00, you can tour The Mapparium for a delightfully psychedelic experience. The Mapparium is a 30-foot stained glass globe built in 1935 and features 608 glass panels. A walkway bisects the center of it.
At one point, they turn the lights off and there’s a light show around the world. Crazy how sound travels in here, sounds like every whisper is microphone-amplified, incredible.
Please note that photography is not allowed inside The Mapparium.
Hope you get to check out Boston!