Boston's Inner Harbor

On the fourth floor between exhibit halls at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston is a floor to ceiling windowed hallway facing Boston’s inner harbor.

My 12 year old grand niece and I paid a visit to Roni Horn’s “Ant Farm” on Saturday just about at the same time all of Boston’s water supply was contaminated by a “catasptrophic” water main break in the western suburbs.

2 million folks had to boil their water for three days throwing individuals and businesses–particularly, restaurants and coffee shops– into a tailspin.

Today, the “boil water” edict was lifted.

I wish the Gulf Coast catastrophe could be as easily fixed.

I also think “catastrophe” should be used more sparingly when describing events.  The Gulf Coast oil spill appears to deserve this word;  September 11, 2001 qualifies; the Boston three day “boil water” mandate does not.  Anything fixed in three days is not a catastrophe in my book–it’s a major pain in the rear for individuals and businesses lose money but “catastrophic”?

©Pat Coakley 2010


**Select photographs from this blog and my wider archive can be purchased at


7 comments on “Boston's Inner Harbor”

  1. Your grand-niece looks contemplative, but not like she’s experiencing a catastrophe. Words matter in shaping our view of the world.
    Perhaps they just meant that the event was catastrophic for the water pipe, not for the community. If so, it would have helped had they said that. Of course that doesn’t sell newspapers and attract eyeballs as effectively as the more inflammatory language.

  2. I concur! and I was wondering about you and several others I know in your area. Our news here said people were “fighting over bottled water” ??? anyhow, glad that you all are back to normal.

  3. Your grand-niece is a beauty and I’m sure takes after you.

    Sometimes I think how lucky we all are. There are people in countries that don’t have ANY clean water at all.

    And then of course we have to deal with lunatics who are always trying to blow up NYC. I remember the morning a few years back when I left my apartment and was walking the two blocks to the subway. I realized something was wrong when there were TONS of police everywhere and helicopters and my subway station was shut down. Turns out they caught some guys who were planning to blow up the subways and they lived BLOCKS from my house.

    Sigh, I would rather have to deal with boiling water for 3 days.

  4. Don, Nothing, not even catastrophes, are selling newspapers but they do manage to rivet eyeballs…although for a shorter and shorter period of time. Our attention span is like the mayfly: 24 hour from birth to death.

  5. Renee, my nephew went into a BJ’s store unaware that there was this “water” situation (his town wasn’t affected) and there were policeman at the door!

  6. Carol,” Sigh”, indeed. New Yorkers could teach all of us how to “sigh” and then carry on. I sorta get stuck on the sigh part.

  7. 12 years old…. where does the time go…. it seems like only yesterday !!! Hard to believe she is standing on the threshold of womanhood…. it is just an amazing thing and you have chronicled her life with love and beauty. I wish every child had you as their great-aunt Pappy !!

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