The empty American city

We really don’t know what a major American city looks like when it’s shut down, because — as near as we can tell — one has never been shut down before.

Or at least we didn’t know what it looked like until today. Here are some images of Boston locked down.

The Longfellow Bridge, connecting the MIT-area of Cambridge to Beacon Hill. (via Antonio Regalado)


Downtown Crossing, Boston’s shopping district. (From Steve Brown, WBUR)


Park Street and Tremont on Beacon Hill, where the city’s subway lines converge.

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Kenmore Square, near Fenway Park. The college and university area. Thousands of runners in the marathon streamed through here on Monday. (From @SixOneSeven)


Harvard Square, Cambridge. (Courtesy: Harvard Crimson)


Mass Turnpike (I-90) near Boston University. (Mass Webcams)


  • Erik Granse

    This is absurd. I hadn’t thought we’d learned anything about our over-reaction to 9/11, and nothing here changes my mind. Millions of people restricted to hunt for one man? If he’d done his killing with anything other than a “terrorist” weapon, we wouldn’t be doing this.

  • Bridget from Cambridge

    I am a MPLS resident, who is from Cambridge, MA. I may have an emotional bias, but I think this action is completely appropriate for public safety. I keep seeing facebook posts from friends who are all too happy to be safe at home.

  • Bob Collins

    There are a couple of different things going on here. One is the compact nature of Boston. There was a chase last night and then a shootout in Watertown. Presumably, the chase went down the cambridge side of the river, across Mount Auburn Street in Cambridge and then into Watertown.

    That’s a hugely busy area and since nobody seems to know where this person is, the odds are they expected another chase of some sort, with guns and grenads and all of that.

    There was also a car jacking involved then and presumably that’s an option this time too.

    so what the cops essentially did was remove all avenues of escape. If you don’t have a car and you don’t have mass transit (or as we used to call it in boston “rapid transit.”), you’re not going anywhere.

    But, then again, I doubt they expected it would go on for going on 24 hours.

  • Duke Powell

    When will MPR (and NPR) confront the obvious?

    It’s not the Tea Party, Bob….

  • Duke Powell

    I’m on you website at least once a day and usually multiple times a day and have been for many years. Just because I don’t comment doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.

    I think this is something you could probably check….

  • Bob Collins

    Great. So what is the point you’re trying to make about empty streets in Boston?

  • Duke Powell

    On the April 18th “Mary and Bob” broadcast you said, with a chuckle:

    (They are) “releasing the photo of these two suspects. So far, what I can tell you, they appear to be both white. That should shake people up a bit and what we’ve been led down the road to believe.”

    Well, what had we been led to believe? The Media, including MPR, ran away from what should have been number one on the list of possible perpetrators. Instead, if one group was identified as possible suspects, it was right-wingers like me.

    Look at your hometown. It was shutdown, with the public hunkered down in their homes, many of them probably wishing that they had a gun. They were put in this situation by terrorism and to play down the possibility that the jerks who did this were Jihadist simply because it doesn’t fit the Media’s collective view is not surprising.

    But irritating none the less.

    To put it simply, it was like the media were standing in the Great Plains, heard a thundering herd off in the distance, and their first thought was “Zebras.”

  • Bob Collins

    I was describing the race of the individuals and you are claiming credit now for blaming a GROUP.

    //They were put in this situation by terrorism and to play down the possibility that the jerks who did this were Jihadist simply because it doesn’t fit the Media’s collective view is not surprising.

    I’m sure I’m not interpreting your sentence structure correctly, but you are asserting that Boston was shut down yesterday… “to play down the possibility that the jerks who did this were Jihadist” ???

    And if I follow this correctly, this was somehow in concert with “the media” ?

    You realize, I’m sure, that what you’re doing here is starting out with what you believe to be a vast, illogical conspiracy, and then concluding — without a reasonable weighing of evidence — that you are correct and since you’ve declared yourself accurate and correct — the rest is relatively easy.

    What’s missing here? Well, besides an amazing lack of acknowledgement that the “who might have done this and why” was a central theme of a lot of coverage yesterday — sometimes to a fault?

    See, you’re bringing your biases to your analysis and want them to be everyone else’s biases too, no matter how far-fetched they are. And if they don’t, well, what’s wrong with them?

    In terms of referencing “white,” if you actually do examine available evidence and seek first to understand, you would realize the reference to John King’s ridiculously inaccurate description that the suspects in the photos about — then — to be released showed a “dark skinned” man.

    That must’ve well delighted the Chuck Woolery caucus.

    But, you’re right, it was stupid to suggest that that reality would “shake up” that crowd, a crowd that proven itself time and time again unwilling to let facts get in the way of an ill-formed determination.

    By the way, firearms permits in Massachusetts has risen 37 percent in the last five years. That’s 1 in every 9 households. Of course, that’s an irrelevant statistic in anything but a political argument in a tragic situation, since gun ownership or non gun ownership played zero part in yesterday’s events other than to provide some comfort — real or imagined — to the people who found comfort in having one.