Story & Photo – Joseph Boyle
Recently after an 11 day layover in Milford, Delaware, I fired up my Harley and headed north towards Boston to visit my nephew, Paul Joseph, who was named after his favorite uncle.
It was only 442 miles, so I should have arrived around 4:30 PM. As it turned out I was the victim of travel adversity in the form of a 10-15 mph traffic jamb on the Connecticut interstate highway.
Part of the problem related to two separate back to back tractor trailer rig crashes I met in my effort to ride north. Before complaining too much I must remind myself of the positive side. Neither tractor trailer rig wiped me out.
Around 9:30 PM I arrived in a suburb just north of Boston, called Somerville, Massachusetts. It was dark and rainy. The Bluetooth GPS technology, built into my motorcycle helmet, guided me to my destination with the mechanical woman’s voice providing instructions inside my helmet. I made it through all the twists and turns on the dark, wet and narrow streets which were clogged with parked cars. Had it not been for the innovative GPS / Bluetooth technology, I would still be wondering around Boston looking for my nephew.
Getting to where I wanted to go was amazing, but what is even more amazing is the instant feeling I got when I started moving through the city. This feeling washed over me like a fog as I inched my way towards my final destination. I did not know what it was, but recognized that it was radiating from the street scene. It was a strange and noticeable feeling.
The next day, my nephew took me on a guided tour. I felt that feeling again. I wondered why there were so many good people moving about on foot and on bicycles. Usually I do not like crowds, but these folks did not make me feel threatened. I did not see any thugs, just good people.
My nephew and I tried to figure it out and figure it out we did.
I discovered that the suburbs of Boston are vibrant and alive. The suburbs pulsate. So many old buildings, narrow streets with tons of people moving around even late at night. It was like an ant hill, and I do not say that in a negative way. Most of these folks live on small lots in small homes, apartments and condos. It appears that the city and the streets are an extension of their homes, like a huge living-room. They are constantly on the move to coffee shops, restaurants, stores, and other places of interest and entertainment outside their homes.
While many of their homes are small, their world is big when including that which is outside their walls.
Using my iPhone to do some light research I determined there is a relationship between city landmass and population size. I found the following statistics to be quite informative. These numbers flow from the years 2010 – 2012 and are close enough to help me make my point.
The answer relates to population density per square mile.
While statistical sources do not report identical results, the source I consulted reported the following:
- Our City of Lakewood: 3,388 people per square mile.
- Cambridge: 16,422 people per square mile.
- Somerville: 18,405 people per square mile.
- New York City: 27,550 people per square mile. (Bonus city statistic at no extra charge to you.)
With this information at hand, the reason for the phenomenon I was experiencing became quite clear.
Very few people per square mile or low population density equals relaxed slower lifestyle.
High number of people per square mile or high population density equals fast pace vibrant lifestyle.
In my mind this is not a matter of one city being good and the other being bad. They are just different and now I understand why. I could enjoy either lifestyle for what it offers, but must say that I am happy to be back in our City of Lakewood.
Thus, I must conclude, with no insult intended, the people of Boston are dense.