- The B-Side
- 🥵 Boston’s hottest attraction (literally)
🥵 Boston’s hottest attraction (literally)
Plus: 🚃 Shutdowns, incoming!
It’s Wednesday, Boston.
🏃Want the glory of crossing the Boston Marathon finish line without actually running 26.2 miles? Consider the B.A.A. 5k. It’s super fun, super flat, and most importantly, only 3.1 miles. Registration opens at 10 a.m. and it usually sells out pretty fast so … Sign up here!
👀 What’s on tap today:
February MBTA shutdowns
The mayor's in her vlogging era
OUT & ABOUT
City Hall Plaza is getting steamy
Image and Illustration: Gia Orsino
Going to a free public sauna at City Hall Plaza was not on our 2024 bingo card. But as one of Boston’s literal hottest winter to-dos, we felt obligated to give it a go in the name of journalism.
Here’s what to know:
🏙️ The sauna is exactly as advertised. It’s a six-person, reservation-only, free mobile sauna just steps away from City Hall. Everyone is required to wear swimsuits and sit on towels, but other than that, it’s kind of a choose-your-own-adventure: You can chat with your sauna buddies, quietly relax, stay inside, or take as many outdoor breaks as you wish. The project is a collab between the City of Boston and Culture House, an organization that aims to transform underutilized city spaces into accessible social infrastructure.
🏝️ It’s a surprising escape from the chaos of Downtown Boston. Although the concept is enough to inspire panic, within the doors of the sauna, it’s easy to forget where you are. The inside is well-kept, and our sauna buddies were very respectful and down to chat. That said, it is free, which means additional amenities are pretty limited (think: Instead of a cold plunge, an ice-bucket-challenge style cooling down station), plus the space itself is a little tight.
👙 That said, you can’t escape all of the chaos. The only time you’ll be confronted with the outside world is by stepping outside to cool off, which — since you’re in a bathing suit in the middle of City Hall Plaza — will inevitably cause some head turning. Yes, people gawked, and some even asked what we were doing. But that’s for you to lean into, or not!
😳 It’s definitely wild, but certainly worth trying. At the end of the day, the sauna’s location and mission are what truly made the experience. Just take it from Aaron Greiner, Culture House’s chief radness officer (yes, that’s a real job): “The Plaza is a symbolic piece of reimagining a space in the middle of the city,” he said. And its presence helps people (including us!) rethink the way winter in Boston can look. We think Greiner said it best: “If you can put a sauna in [front of] City Hall, you can put it anywhere.”
😶🌫️ Pro tip! Sessions are currently completely booked, but Greiner promises that people “frequently” cancel the day before, and spots will open up if you’re vigilant. You can check for openings here.
🧖 Would you try out a free public sauna?
Let us know below!
Quick & dirty headlines
Image: Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff
🚃 Consider this your February MBTA shutdown reminder. If January was an amuse-bouche to our year of shutdowns, February’s the main course. The Red, Green, and Orange Lines, plus the Lowell and Fitchburg commuter rail lines will all see some kind of shutdown this month, and while we don’t have the word count to get into the details, you can investigate for yourself here, and we’ll update you as each shutdown gets closer. To soften the blow: At least the Green Line is back (for now) and the shutdowns seem to have paid off!
🏠 The newest migrant shelter is in our neighborhood. Starting Wednesday, Roxbury’s Cass center will serve as an overflow shelter for about 400 migrants until May 31, forcing the center's crucial daily programming to relocate, and causing community backlash. The decision, which was made by the state, comes as Mass.’ migrant crisis continues to worsen, with dozens of people resorting to sleeping inside Logan Airport. And while the city can’t do much about the news since it’s a state-owned building, some community members said they would’ve appreciated a “heads up.”
🕊️ Somerville and Cambridge have called for a ceasefire. In the past few days, the two City Councils became the first and second in Mass. to pass resolutions calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and a release of all hostages. There were a dozen profound testimonies from residents in Somerville and hours of public comment in Cambridge, but in both cases, the move is essentially symbolic, putting pressure on President Joe Biden and Congress to work towards that outcome. For Boston’s part, despite significant public outcry, there hasn’t been much movement.
🪴 The Brighton Bazaar is back, baby! Their fabulous night market is hosting its first ever event in January tonight, and it looks like it’s going to be a banger. There will be over 50 small business vendors with art, vintage, jewelry, and a ton more, as well as a DJ, seasonal hot bevs, and a vintage-inspired photo booth installation. IMO, it’s one of the best vendor markets in the city, and we’ll definitely be paying it a visit. One tip: If possible, avoid driving there, since parking can be a pain.
ONE LAST THING
Mayor Wu’s vlogging era
Image: Lane Tuner/Globe Staff. Illustration by Gia Orsino.
Mayor Michelle Wu can officially add “MBTA vlogger” to her resume.
The vlogs are part of a series on Mayor Wu’s Instagram where she joins Bostonians on their MBTA commutes to work in order to “experience all parts of our transit system and how we can do better.”
This time, she followed a ninth grade teacher on her 501 bus commute from Oak Square in Brighton to Bay Village, and it looked … well … long and cold. But it’s totally worth the watch for Mayor Wu’s cinematography alone. You can check it out here.
— Written by Gia Orsino and Emily Schario
🤳 Thanks for reading! We can already smell an MBTA brand deal brewing for Wu now that she’s in her influencer era.
😋 The results are in: B-Siders love dining alone! Well over 50% of you dine alone frequently, and many more enjoy it as a treat once in a while. One reader said: “Can confirm: I am a great date!”