Fill-In the Block
Walking back from lunch yesterday, I uncovered a seasonal pocket of retail activity just steps from the heart of Downtown Crossing…that was not Art Fridays. Rather, the Brattle Book Shop – somewhat of an endangered species of bookstore “type” and in operation since 1825 – has initiated a worthy takeover of the adjacent vacant lot. On quiet West Street, office workers on their lunch break browsed books, unable to resist the allure of shelves of hardcovers and piles of paperbacks. Why is this particular space so compelling? As a temporary urban intervention, the “liner” of books that envelops the lot successfully brings the adjacent party walls down to a more human scale. The wall mural, the hodgepodge of buildings facades, and the requisite fire escape backdrop, transform this outdoor “room” – just steps from the Public Garden – into a delightful urban niche where one can seek refuge from the summertime heat. In spite of thoughtful streetscape planning, sometimes its unplanned urban moments like these which are the best.