Copley Square has been a popular gathering spot for residents and visitors of Boston, MA for years. Named after John Singleton Copley, in 1994 the square was created so that the green area in the middle was surrounded by streets on all side. This created the feel of a community within the city itself. Surrounded by key Boston iconic buildings, such as the Trinity Church, Boston Public Library, and John Hancock Tower, the site acts as a linking point connecting the new to the old.
The Square is an area that serves various purposes for the Boston community. It acts as a point where people of different economic backgrounds can come together and interact with one another. Those who are economically challenged might be found lying down on the grass pondering their daily events, while others may approach them for a simple conversation. This peaceful approach allows for relationships to be made and friendships to be formed, no matter what one’s circumstance is. Copley Square also functions as an area to be a part of the city, while escaping it at the same time.
The first time I visited Copley Square I thought of it as a chaotic and eventful location. It was one in which many people were moving around in order to accomplish their own goal. But, in doing so, everyone was working together to build upon themselves. I saw children running around laughing, couples sitting by the fountains eating lunch, and doctors running through the square to work. Many people were interacting with each other in the lively square. It was an area that was open to all ideas and types of people. There were individuals gathering for the local farmer’s market to enjoy community grown food. Others were staring in awe at the historic Trinity Church that was at the center end of the square.
When going back to Copley Square, I realized the living parts of the square were the people themselves. With not many people in the area at the time I came, I realized that the square was one with the people. It was very calm and empty when I came. There were small tourist groups walking around the front of the square lawn, but not as packed as it had been before. Furthermore, there were no children, students, or families; instead, there were business professionals grabbing a quick bite to eat at the entrance to the square. Visiting again showed me that the “energy” of an area depended upon the time, for the type of people and flow of the square was in relation to clockwork.
Copley Square acts as a gathering area for all people to come together. There are various events that are taking place each day such as the Copley Square Farmers Market, Public Trust Art Exhibit, and Community Self-Defense. Each event serves its own purpose; however, when analyzed from a far they were all connected to each other as a gathering point for people. Locals and tourists would both stand side by side, which in return would allow for the exchange of ideas and thoughts.
Each event also served an underlying purpose for the square and city both. The Copley Square Farmers Market connected individuals from the outside Boston communities to the inner city neighborhoods by the exchange of locally made products. From food and milk, to soaps and home decorations, the community goods allowed for an increase in the local economy. This benefits those who live in the downtown area and cannot afford the high priced “all-natural” food at supermarkets. They have the ability to purchase cheaper healthier foods at these markets. It can save these people money, as well as increasing their healthy lifestyle. The local farmers also receive a financial benefit from the market, for it can be the economic stability for them to continue growing products. Copley Square Farmers Market can also act as a community bonding event. By combining the businesses of the surrounding Massachusetts area, people can meet others and gain perspectives on the differences of neighborhoods outside Boston.
The Public Trust Art Exhibit was another event that was taking place on the day that I visited Copley Square. This exhibit was a large board that was set up in the center of the square lawn that allowed individuals to broadcast their life goals and promises to the public. It was a type of art form that allowed for people to “expose” their inner aspirations to the public to validate the promise behind it. Furthermore, this type of artwork was a way to inspire those who were passing by to open up to the local area and display their thoughts to the world. This type of artwork event drew people together through ideas, mindsets, and values. Some people were crying as they saw promises of others that related to their own life. There were strangers hugging, laughing, and sharing personal stories, all because of how they viewed the promises of others.
Upon visiting Copley Square again, another event that was taking place in the evening was a Community Self-Defense lesson and show. Although I did not get a chance to see the self-defense lesson live, I saw how the empty stage and sign caught people’s attention. Many people would come up to the stage and ask the attendant questions about the time and purpose for the lesson. It was a nighty activity to come to after work and school to learn about self-defense. I thought that this was an interesting event theme to hold in the square, but useful, especially in a city where all people should have street smarts and be aware of their own surroundings. This type of event promoted safety in the local community and social awareness.
People that are familiar with city squares, such as author Michael Kimmelman, have discussed how a successful square is defined as an area where differences are accepted and people feel as if they are in the middle of things. In this shared sense of place everyone can be included, for there are no beliefs that separate the people. Copley Square provides a belief of belonging. If someone is feeling alone and singled out in a certain situation they are able to come to the square and interact with the city. This results in a growth self-esteem, confidence, and the understanding of freedom, all due to the community.