Student blog of the Stanford University Urban Studies Department

Amy Tomasso: Reflections on Boston

In the immediate aftermath of the tragic Boston Marathon Bombings, more questions abound than answers.  Before the rubble is cleared, before the motives and implications of the attack can be assessed, and before the lives of those affected can begin to be reassembled, the first reactions are visceral and sentient.   


                  As a Connecticut native, I was shocked and saddened to see tragedy hit so close to home.  I have fond childhood memories of visiting Lexington Gardens, the Wharf, and following the famous ride of Paul Revere; Boston teems with history and beauty, and the Boston Marathon is an integral part of its rich story.  It was hard for me to fathom the Boston of my memories in this new light, but ultimately, I realized that Boston’s history is what makes this city so resilient.

                  Many of my high school classmates and friends attend college in Boston, and I watched as their Facebook and Instagram feeds filled up with posts about the bombing in the days that followed.  The hashtag “#bostonstrong” abounded, and the celebration when the bomber was captured brought the whole city into the streets to celebrate.  It was powerful to see the overwhelming pride and hope expressed for Boston, but I was especially struck by the role the city itself played.

                  Cities bring people together.  They are celebrations of diversity, culture, and our shared humanity.  The physical spaces that make up cities are defined by the people that inhabit them, and the unique values they contribute.  After the bombings, I have never been so aware of the power cities have to unite us; as photos showed Boston’s streets filled with revelers exuding relief, the energy was almost palpable. 

                  It is important not to forget the profound act of violence incited at the Marathon, but it is also important to understand how cities, by their very natures, can sustain us.  They encourage a sense of community and give us something to stand behind.  Let the strength of the Bostonians be a reminder of the power of place and its critical role in bringing us together. 


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