Aristrocratic Visions

Sculptor Alexander  Pope's regal lions, guardians now of the Fairmount Copley Plaza, originally stood in front of  one of the square's French flat apartment hotels on the corner of Boylston and Exeter streets.

Why Back Bay Historical? The global Boston perspective has always been especially associated with what The New York Times a century ago called “the aristocratic rectangle” of the original Back Bay.

The values of this area, historically, mirrored the areas’ creators, in the words of Notre Dame historian James Turner, “the closest thing to an American aristocracy, the Brahmin class of Boston.” Significantly, it was a Brahmin grandee and Harvard Professor, Charles Eliot Norton, who had the idea of the still standard “Western Civilization” course.

A centerpiece of the Brahmin vision was the great New World agora of Victorian Copley Square, home to a galaxy of seminal American institutions from the latest incarnation of the Old South Church of Boston Tea Party fame to the new MIT, and including the Museum (as it is now called) of Science, Trinity Church, the new Museum of Fine Arts, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Boston Marathon, the Museum School, Emerson College, the Lowell Institute, the Toy Theatre, Harvard Medical School and the apotheosis of "global Boston", the Boston Public Library, fusion of goals both aristocratic and populist.


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