Monday, April 02, 2007

Boston-Area Schools I: Boston University

Boston is the state capital of Massachusetts, as seen below with the State House building in Boston Common. With its high concentration of colleges and universities, Boston also is arguably the U.S. capital of higher education, at least for private institutions.

I was recently in Boston for an academic conference and, during some free time, I rode around on the area's subway/streetcar system, known as the "T," visiting a number of institutions of higher learning. Riding "neath the streets of Boston," I got to Boston University (BU) and the Berklee School of Music within the city, Boston College (BC) in Chestnut Hill, and MIT and Harvard in Cambridge.

Today, I start off a five-part installment on Boston-area higher education with a brief photo essay on Boston University. BU is the quintessential urban university, nestled in near the major interesection of Commonwealth Avenue and Beacon Street, near the Massachusetts Turnpike. Along with BU, the area features Fenway Park, home of the city's beloved Red Sox, the famous Citgo sign that can sometimes be seen beyond Fenway on baseball telecasts, and Kenmore Square, home to one of the city's busiest T stops. Several bars and clubs make this a raucous night spot, or so I'm told.

Perhaps because the main stretch of campus down Comm Ave. looks a lot more commercial than collegiate, BU provides a ready supply of red school banners, reminding passersby that they are in fact on a college campus.

This next photo vividly shows, I believe, the urban mix in which BU is located. Surrounding BU's School of Management (left) are Comm Ave. and the streetcar tracks in the middle of the street, the aforementioned Citgo sign, and, to the right and a little further in the distance, the thin square Prudential Tower, one of Boston's trademark highrises.

A segment of BU's student housing supply comes from former apartment buildings immediately south of the academic buildings. According to the Wikipedia:

The area is almost entirely brick, walk-up buildings and brownstone townhouses, although over the last 20 years almost every residential building in Kenmore has been purchased by Boston University and turned into dorms, especially in the Audubon Circle area between Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue.

Other than perhaps some schools in New York City and elsewhere in the East, I'm hard-pressed to come up with as strong an example of educational urbanicity as BU.