Welcome to the Ever-Changing City of Boston

Posted March 8, 2004 at 9:04am

Each day, I see a Boston that is changing. The view from my office window in City Hall is not what it once was. Where I looked out previously and saw a Green Monster — not the left field wall at Fenway Park, but the old elevated Expressway, a gash through downtown — I now can look straight out to Boston Harbor.

The city to which more than 15,000 media people, along with 20,000 delegates and guests, will come for the Democratic National Convention this summer is a place bustling with new energy and new ideas, as much in the forefront of progress as it has always been. Boston gave America the first public school and college, the first public library and newspaper. Boston led the anti-slavery movement and gave birth to the New Frontier. New things — big things — such as bio-tech and mutual funds started here.

Everyone knows about the revolution that began here more than 200 years ago. Now the world will hear about today’s revolutions, in high-tech and life sciences, in education and medicine. The convention gives us a chance to do something for Boston that’s never been done before. All of us can play a part in this milestone event. We will tell the world about this special place.

A dynamic life-sciences economy is propelling the city’s economic future. Thanks to Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass), among others, Boston will be home to a new National Bio-Safety Lab. And young tech-savvy workers continue to find Boston among the most attractive cities in the country in which to live and to work.

I am thrilled to have the chance to showcase Boston not only as a vibrant city with its historical atmosphere and its contemporary, international flavor, but also as a premier destination for tourists and conventioneers alike. Most important, the world will discover what we already know — that diversity is the strength of our city.

Boston is a city of neighborhoods. As mayor, I have placed revitalizing the neighborhoods of our city at the top of my agenda.

The first step in this process was combating crime. During the past decade, the Boston police have developed and implemented the nationally recognized “Boston Model,” which reduced crime to a 30-year low. Now, a new police commissioner, Kathleen O’Toole, will help bring community policing to the next level.

In 1995, I created Boston Main Streets, the first urban, multidistrict Main Streets program in the nation. This program provides funding and technical assistance to 21 neighborhood-based districts throughout the city. Venture outside of downtown and you will find places like Roslindale Village, which now boasts bistros and restaurants.

Closer to the convention site are more well-known neighborhoods, such as the North End, world famous for its Italian-American cuisine and culture, and the South End, a vibrant mix of cafes, fine restaurants and shops. We hope many of the visitors here will get a glimpse of the neighborhoods of our city.

Just as Boston’s neighborhoods have changed, so too have our residents. In 1998, I set up the Office of New Bostonians to assist the growing and changing newcomer community. This office translates city publications into seven different languages. The students who attend Boston’s schools come from families who speak more than 32 different languages.

The convention will reflect this diversity as we have incorporated it into all of our planning. From the creation of a Vendor Directory consisting of small, local and minority-owned businesses to the hundreds of community meetings held throughout the city, we have worked to ensure that all of our businesses, communities and residents have the opportunity to participate in this great event.

During my 10 years as mayor, I have striven to make Boston a better place for all our city’s people — most importantly our school students. Last summer, we opened three new public schools. And the test scores of our students continue to improve. Forbes magazine recently lauded our school system as “among the best in the nation, with a 82 percent high school graduation rate and access to many of the finest museums, libraries and universities in the world.” All of this lies in store for visitors to Boston this summer.

Our entire city is excited for you to arrive. I’m proud to say that more than 7,000 Greater Bostonians have already signed up as volunteers to the convention. We’ll see you in July.

Thomas M. Menino (D) is serving his third term as mayor of Boston. He is the former president of the United States Conference of Mayors.