The winter is not over yet in Boston, but after the past month or so we can be sure Bostonians are ready to take whatever the winter throws at them with a fortified mix of defiance and resignation.
In case you have spent 2015 like this…
Respectable use of snow in Boston. pic.twitter.com/V8v9HDJH8G
— Andrew Veety (@amveats) February 18, 2015
…let us fill you in.
It’s been snowing a bit in Boston. Not that the city isn’t used to it. But in just three weeks since Jan. 26 Boston dug itself repeatedly out of a grand total of 83 inches of snow.
That’s almost four yards. That’s the height of a grown man standing on the head of another grown man.
Counting from the start of the season in December, Boston collected about 103 inches of snowfall, just 5 inches shy of the 1996 record. At that time, of course, it took until April 10 to reach the mind-boggling 107.6 inches, so let’s not jump to conclusions.
It is clear though, Bostonians went through a lot and the ways they’ve dealt with it are in many ways extraordinary.
Point A to Point B
In a way, transportation suffered a blow from two sides—while the weather gave it a cold shoulder, it was taking heat from the residents.
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, or “The T” as locals call it, has been crippled so often in the past month, some commuters now suffer from a reverse freak-out.
Like this lady:
— Hypersonic Feminist (@sparkymonster) March 2, 2015
Almost two thirds of commuter rail trains were late in February, according to Boston Globe, if they ran at all.
— WarCAWQ (@warCAWQ) February 19, 2015
But with delays came an even more pestering side effect—crowding. People unrelentingly trying to get on a train turned increasingly savage, leading locals to describe the platform hustle as “dystopian.”
Space Saver Phenomenon
Understandably, those relying on automobiles encountered their fair share of annoyance too. But not so much for the apparent reasons as increased traffic accidents and congestion. That’s just a winter stereotype for a big city 200 miles south Canadian border.
The harshest and most peculiar struggle begins before and after the car trip is over.
First, you need to dig up your car, as it probably looks like this:
— Peter Banos (@pdb1951) February 21, 2015
— Nick Andersen (@nicktheandersen) February 18, 2015
And if you had the idea to flee to Florida for a while, you may have wanted to take your car with you. Or be ready for what this resident encountered:
— MaryJo Kurtz (@MaryJoKurtz) February 21, 2015
Anyway, you get the picture.
Then, with your car extricated and your parking spot rendered snow-spot clean, you’d engage in a long Bostonian tradition that most other parts of the country may obliviously raise their eyebrows at.
You would take a patio chair, or perhaps a trash can, traffic cone, bucket, or a bust of Elvis, and place it neatly in the middle of the parking spot thus marking it yours and not to be messed with.
Such item then shall be called a “space saver” and removing it, or worse, replacing it with a car is a social crime of sorts punishable by disfigurement of the intruding vehicle, including slashing its tires.
Let’s take a look at a few:
— Garrett Quinn (@GarrettQuinn) February 16, 2015
Winter space saver parklet. pic.twitter.com/WVRarksWX1
— bikeyface (@bikeyface) February 14, 2015
— Grace Boal (@graceboal) February 13, 2015
— Michael Dewberry (@Dewb) February 26, 2015
— Hilary Sargent (@lilsarg) February 19, 2015
— ~^*CJ*^~ (@cjs444) February 4, 2015
Shockingly, the city, instead of solving the apparent lack of parking spots, even made the practice official about a decade ago. Space savers can be used for 48 hours after the city calls off a snow emergency.
If you wonder whether such form of street justice invites conflicts, it does. And it even leads to awareness campaigns like these:
— MassData (@MassData) February 22, 2015
— Cam King (@CamKing747) March 2, 2015
Add to it dangerous ice dams and now a risk of flooding as the snow finally starts to melt and you have a fair picture of a city stressed to the limit.
All the more precious are the efforts of locals to face the polar winds with humor and unyielding vigor. Like this small group of bike enthusiasts who dug a 40-foot tunnel under a humongous snow pile to open a bike route.
Or this couple that built a huge snow turtle filling 1,000 solo cups with food coloring:
— Clayton C. Anderson (@Astro_Clay) February 22, 2015
And let’s just throw in a couple more to showcase some Bostonian spirit:
— Phoebe & Angel Sadie (@CountyClare7) February 22, 2015
That’s right. Just some 2,000 miles to Aruba.
And how about some snow storm sediment readings?
— Tim Brenner (@tpkbrenner) February 21, 2015
— Indira Lakshmanan (@Indira_L) February 21, 2015
And lastly a bit of optimism:
— Julio Ricardo Varela (@julito77) March 1, 2015