Category Archives: Entertainment

Good to the Last Drop

Bloc 11 is the second coffee shop belonging to Tucker Lewis and Jennifer Park, owners of Diesel in Davis Square. It sits at the intersection of Walnut and Bow Streets in Union.  It’s spacious, has both indoor and outdoor seating, and hosts live music and open mic sessions a couple of evenings per week. I’ve heard from others that the food is great, but I’ve only gone for the iced coffee personally – delicious iced coffee with a very subtle hint of cinnamon.

The most unique thing about Bloc 11 is its location. It opened in 2007 in a vacant bank building, complete with vaults in the back in which you can sit and enjoy your latte. I regret that my photo doesn’t do the space justice, as it’s much cooler looking in person.

And speaking of lattes, they do some pretty cool latte flower art.

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DAILY TRIVIA: The first residence in the world to have telephone service was that belonging to Charles Williams Jr., who lived at the corner of Arlington and Lincoln Streets in Somerville. It was in Williams’ telegraphic equipment shop that Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson first transmitted a sound via telephone wire on June 2, 1875.

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Murals II

We speak for those who can’t.

This is my favorite local mural. It’s right on the Somerville/Cambridge line and may be technically in Cambridge, but I drive by it nearly every day and have always wanted a reason to pull over and take a picture of it.

Painted by muralist Be Sargent

Though this mural is a “wall of respect for animals” and sponsored by organizations including Massachusetts Network for Animals and Abolish Primate Experiments and Slavery, I like that there is also an infant in the painting. It sends a very powerful message.

Two more murals from around town are below; please click photos to enlarge:

There was once a train that went down Broadway... more about this in an upcoming post!

Union Square; also by Be Sargent.

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DAILY TRIVIA: General Charles H. Taylor, editor and founder of American Homes Magazine, the first 10-cent magazine in this country, lived in Somerville. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Prettying Up Union Square

Deriving its name from the Civil War era, Union Square was once a major recruitment center for the Union Army. Today it is a melting pot where the working class of East Somerville intersects with the city’s fashionable western parts, and is one of the oldest and largest commercial areas in town.

There is much to say about bustling Union Square, but for today I wanted to write specifically about one step that was taken a few years ago to better the community through art and the active involvement of its residents, a hallmark of Mayor Curtatone’s legacy.

In 2005 the Somerville Arts Council held a design competition for local artists and craftsmen to design and build street furniture. The competition was based on 4 objectives: to engage local artists/craftsmen in design and fabrication, to recognize the city’s cultural diversity, to celebrate Union Square’s unique character, and to create beautiful and innovative new street furniture designs. The uncommon furniture can be found throughout Union Square.

Glass-top benches: Aaron Binkley; copper benches: Mitch Ryerson; trash barrel covers: Christina Lanzl, Phil Manker; engraved design on glass: Heather Townsend, Jeff Czekaj, Julie Chen, Wes Boyd.

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DAILY TRIVIA: The Queen Anne residential building at 113 College Ave. became a major national focus in 1968 for an alternative Jewish religious movement; it is still the home of the Havurat Shalom community.

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Murals I

Murals painted alongside the Rogers Foam Corp. building, Central Street.

Winter Hill Liquors on Broadway Street

To Catch a Flick

Over the past hundred years, Somerville has been host to at least 14 different theatres around the city.  The Somerville Theatre opened its doors in 1914, and remains the last one standing.

Located in the heart of Davis Square, the theatre is a great place to catch a movie or a concert; the view of the screen/stage is impressive from wherever you are sitting. Movie ticket prices are extremely low, ranging from $5-8, and there are only five minutes of ads and previews preceding the feature. You can buy beer or wine at the concession stand too, which makes the theatre a nice alternative to hitting the crowded bars on a Friday night.  Don’t forget to come early and check out the Museum of Bad Art in the basement.

The Lost Theatres of Somerville, based on a past exhibit at the Somerville Museum, goes into much detail about the many theatres of Somerville – it’s a great site chock full of info and history, so do click on the link to read more.

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DAILY TRIVIA: President Obama lived on Broadway in Somerville during the late 80s and early 90s, while attending Harvard Law School.

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The Castle

Prospect Hill, Somerville, MA

The Prospect Hill Monument is  important not only to Somerville’s history but to that of the birth of America. Though the monument itself wasn’t built until 1902, it marks the spot where on January 1, 1776 General George Washington raised the first true American flag at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. A more detailed historical account can be found here.

Prospect Hill Monument

Often referred to locally as “the castle” that overlooks Union Square, Prospect Hill is a familiar destination for families exploring the stone structure or visiting the adjacent park and playground. It’s also a popular spot for folks to congregate on July 4, in an effort to get a glimpse of the Boston fireworks while avoiding the Boston crowds.  I did this on the last fourth of July, and in my opinion it’s not worth the trek. The view’s not too shabby in the winter, but once the leaves grow back on the trees it’s an entirely different story.

View of Boston from Prospect Hill

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DAILY TRIVIA: Somerville used to be referred to as the “City of the Hills”.

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Slumerville? Pshaw…

Somerville, Massachusetts has been my home for the better part of the past 15 years. Truth be told, no place has ever felt more like home to me than here. I decided to start this blog as an homage to this bustling suburb of Boston with so much to offer.

Brasher Falls, NY

First of all, let me explain. I came of age in rural America during the 80s and early 90s far from any metropolitan area. I was also far from cable television, highways and civilization; the first indoor mall within a hundred miles’ drive wasn’t built until I was 16 years old. You think the pre-internet days were bad? I’m guessing that at least your family, unlike mine, didn’t have to share a ‘party line’ with several neighbors due to the limited phone lines available in your county.

One might be tempted to label me an easily impressible sap who just happened to land here on my stumble out of the North Country. (For the record, this is the third state I’ve lived in, and the sixth town in metro Boston I’ve called home.)  I would have to respectfully beg to differ, and insist that growing up with such meager surroundings and little opportunity has made me appreciate the things that surround me now on a much deeper level than most folks probably ever even notice.

There are lots of things I appreciate daily about Somerville. It’s only miles from downtown Boston, yet possesses its own thriving economy and vibrant community. This hasn’t always been the case, as the colloquial ‘Slumerville’ nickname from the not-so-distant past reminds us. Things started to really turn around here in the 90s, beginning with the revitalization of Davis Square. The gentrification  over the past decade or so has attracted many people who are interested in (among other things)  sustainable living, eco-friendly transportation, composting, buying local, and of course, art. Freecycle is a way of life here, as is working on reducing the impact of one’s carbon footprint. And despite the gentrification, which comes with its own list of positives and negatives, much diversity has been preserved here. There are  epicenters throughout the city that are home to Brazilians, Haitians, El Salvadorians, Indians and many other immigrant cultures. There are also folks working to preserve those diverse communities and engage those who live there, encouraging them to be a part of the ever-changing landscape.

So, as of this moment I do declare that beginning tomorrow I will write once per day about something I deem great about living here.  Thanks for reading my first post, and stay tuned…

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DAILY TRIVIA: Somerville was a 2009 recipient of the prestigious All-America City Award.

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