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Keller @ Large: Not Everyone Wants Boston City Hall Torn Down

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Boston City Hall Plaza, file image (credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Boston City Hall Plaza, file image (credit: STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

WBZ-TV's Jon Keller Jon Keller
Jon Keller is WBZ-TV News' Political Analyst, and his "Keller A...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Would you like to see Boston City Hall vanish from the landscape?

Or would you at least be dry-eyed if it did?

If so, join the club.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

The website VirtualTourist.com named City Hall one of the world’s ten ugliest buildings, up there – or down there, take your pick – with the rancid Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City.

And just this week, the magazine California Home and Design led off an article listing the 25 buildings they’d most like to see demolished with our very own local landmark.

Brutal, perhaps, but fitting for a hideous concrete monolith that was touted back in the 1960’s as an example of the “new brutalism,” a once-hip architectural trend.

So when I went down to City Hall yesterday with a WBZ news camera to sample public opinion about the idea of razing the place, I expected most people would be eager for a turn with the sledgehammer.

Boy, was I wrong.

Most of the people we stopped on the wretched expanse of City Hall Plaza insisted they didn’t want to see it go.

“I like the architecture of it, the way the windows are set up,” said one woman, even though to me, they look like the windows in a maximum-security prison.

“It’s a beautiful building with a lot of history,” said one guy, although beyond a few arrests and Larry Bird’s infamous description of Moses Malone’s eating habits during the 1981 championship celebration, I can’t think of much history that went on there.

But another guy I spoke with put his finger on it when he said: “It’s just something you get used to, I think.”

Isn’t that just like a Bostonian?

Familiarity means a lot around here. That can translate into our sense of tradition and commitment to historic preservation.

It can also mean we cling to things that aren’t worth clinging to.

I should have asked City Hall’s defenders: are you also nostalgic for the old Central Artery, the Boston City Hall of its time?

Anyway, the mayor says we can’t afford a new City Hall, so we’re stuck with the awful thing for now.

Maybe we can get Christo, the artist famous for wrapping up buildings, to work his magic here.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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