My Love Affair with Post Office Square
I’m having an affair with Norman Leventhal . . . or at least, with his namesake park in Post Office Square. I had been in a committed relationship with the Common, but as the weather improves, it gets crowded. Occasionally, I get a painful reminder (in the form of a Frisbee to the head) that I am not the only woman in its life. So I started looking, if not for greener pastures, at least for a new patch of green where I could relax and enjoy the urban outdoors this summer. I found it downtown.
Norman B. Leventhal Park is the proper name for the green oasis that most Bostonians call Post Office Square. It straddles Congress and Pearl Streets downtown, and while I cut through it nearly everyday on my walk to work, I rarely thought of it as a destination until relatively recently. I was formally introduced to the park last summer, and it became my regular outdoor lunch date. I’m now waiting for it to be both warm enough and dry enough to rendezvous with Norman again.
I usually bring my lunch, but you also can pick up a salad, sandwich or soup from Sip Café, which is nestled on the south side of the park along Franklin Street. Sip is open all day and uses locally grown produce in its offerings.
Unlike the larger Boston Common or Public Garden, Norman Leventhal Park offers a collection of free amenities that is, for lack of a better word, unique for public parks. During the work week, you can borrow seat cushions, which makes sitting gracefully on the grass in a skirt much more comfortable and prevents grass stains on white jeans, my summer staple. You can continue working from the lawn using the park’s free Wi-Fi or disconnect from the office and borrow a book from the so-called Library on the Lawn. What a genius idea!
Twice a week starting in June, live music plays at midday, from harpists to jazz quartets to blues. Post Office Square is a cozy size that at lunchtime feels bustling. It’s just crowded enough so you feel as if you are in the middle of the action, but finding a table, a corner of bench, or plot of grass isn’t difficult. And with young professionals fleeing their offices as if a recess bell rang, the people-watching can’t be beat.
The park isn’t just a lunchtime destination, though. Last summer, they introduced free fitness classes. I didn’t take any but walked by a few times and felt incredibly lazy for not taking advantage. This summer, the classes are back, and they have beefed up their schedule. Five mornings and three evenings a week you can take yoga, Pilates, Zumba, or boot camp classes with no need to sign up.
In addition to all these offerings, there is also the lush atmosphere, which stands on its own: beautiful flowers, plants and bushes; a fountain that not only provides a tranquil soundtrack but also serves as a cooling station for children (and some adults) who dip their feet in on particularly hot days. You also can sit in the shade of the long garden trellis that runs nearly the length of the park.
For city dwellers, green space is a must, especially in the summer. We are all looking to find a relationship with a park that can last for the long haul. I have visited a lot of parks over the years, but I think Post Office Square may just be “the one” for me.