The crowds were bigger. The lines were longer. The parking was more difficult but the feeling all in all in the North End was that this is a neighborhood to relish and to enjoy, with everyone mixing together, with virtually no crime or ugly scenes on a picture postcard late Spring New England weekend.
The sidewalks were awash with a sea of humanity – families, college students, older residents, people of every kind from all over the world flocking here to enjoy a taste of Boston or more importantly, to experience the North End.
Not everyone loved the crowds.
There are many old-timers, long time North End residents who believe a return to yesterday would be far more preferable to what went on over this sun drenched weekend.
They aren’t anti-capitalist. They simply believe that less business would make for a better North End.
They are how the feel are juxtaposed almost perfectly by North End businesspeople.
They loved the weekend. The crowds. The excitement of so many visitors and customers.
They would like even more but they have questions about how best to achieve that end without ruining the ambiance or choking the place entirely with traffic and visitors.
For the old-timers, this is the bitterest pill to swallow – the notion that the North End is not going back to yesterday. Rather, the North End is reaching its rendezvous with destiny.
There is no going back. There is only moving forward.
This implies that everyone’s demands must be met – not only residents’ demands but the demands of business and change which, frankly, cannot be stopped.
Unless the North End wishes to freeze itself forever in 2012, the neighborhood will continue to change, and rather dramatically for everyone involved in its economic, political and social life.
The demand needs to be for controlled change, for some parameters to be placed on growth and for creative ways to serve as alternatives to meeting the challenge.
The extended sidewalk idea needs to be debated.
Concerns about traffic and what exactly to do about it demands debate.
At some point, the traffic is going to simply stop, with no one able to move. Then what?
The sidewalks will become so crowded, residents will find it difficult to walk on them to their homes.
Business should be allowed to expand, but to what end?
How much is enough or will it ever be enough?
Without growth, there is slow decline. The excitement ends and the North End takes a step backward.
In a perfect world, leaders in this neighborhood, with the aid of experts, could design a blueprint for the future – for the future is about everything meaningful to this neighborhood.
Too bad it isn’t a perfect world.