April 19, 2013

Its streets deserted, Boston soldiers on

By Allen G. Breed / The Associated Press

BOSTON — The Red Sox and the Bruins both scrapped their games. The famous Quincy Market at Faneuil Hall was closed, and there were more pigeons than tourists on City Hall Plaza. Even the Starbucks at Government Center was shuttered.

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Amtrak trains sit idle in a train yard on the south side of Boston Friday, April 18, 2013 as all transit service remains shut down in the Boston area. Two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing killed an MIT police officer, injured a transit officer in a firefight and threw explosive devices at police during their getaway attempt in a long night of violence that left one of them dead and another still at large Friday, authorities said as the manhunt intensified for a young man described as a dangerous terrorist. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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The usually busy Kenmore Square in Boston is virtually deserted at lunchtime Friday after officials advise residents of Greater Boston to stay put.

The Associated Press

The killing of one suspected Boston Marathon bomber and the manhunt for another brought life in large swaths of the notoriously gridlocked Beantown to a screeching halt for most of the day, leaving residents and tourists alike frustrated and angry.

"It took me an hour and a half to find a coffee this morning," Daniel Miller, a financier from New York, said as he wandered the desolate plaza beside a statue of patriot Samuel Adams. "I was joking with a person that I guess the strategy is we'll make this person not be able to get a coffee in the morning, and maybe they'll give up."

For Steve Parlin, who is staying at a veteran's shelter on Court Street, in the shadow of City Hall, the scene was nothing to joke about.

"Helicopters are flying over," the Gulf War-era Coast Guard veteran said as he strolled across the plaza, a bottle of water in his hand. "Everything's closed. It's creepy. Machine guns. Creepy."

Gov. Deval Patrick, Mayor Thomas Menino and Boston Police Commissioner Edward Davis ordered all people in the city of Boston to shelter in place. Several area colleges and universities were locked down. Commuter rail, bus and subway service were suspended, and thousands of workers were told to stay home. The restrictions were lifted about an hour before sunset.

The potential impact on businesses and the local economy was not immediately clear. Jon Hurst, President of the Massachusetts Retailers Association, said he had no estimate yet.

"Certainly it is in the tens of millions for retail and restaurants, and in hundreds of millions in lost productivity when adding in offices, etc.," he wrote in an email to the AP.

Filming for director David O. Russell's movie "American Hustle" was halted because of the manhunt and lockdown. The mayhem also interrupted Dallas couple Tom and Vy Nguyen's fifth wedding anniversary trip to the city.

The couple was hoping to visit the Museum of Fine Art, Fenway Park and several other landmarks. Instead, they were having a hard time just finding a restaurant that was open.

"I just want to eat," Tom Nguyen, 32, a health-care company analyst, said as they passed the normally raucous Big Apple Circle big top at Government Center. "I've never seen a city shut down like this for one person. . This is very bizarre for us."

One place that did not shut down was the Union Oyster House, which bills itself as "America's oldest restaurant." But it was definitely easier to find a table than during your typical lunchtime.

Several people hunched over seafood and beers around the semicircular bar, and only a few tables upstairs were occupied. Manager Troy Thissell said that didn't matter.

"The city of Boston said do the best you can do. Our choice. So we chose to open," said Thissell, who was sporting a "Boston Strong" button on his shirt. "We've always in the past. During blizzards and other things, we do open. And we're going to continue to do so.

For people accustomed to the bustle of this "big small town," the quiet was unsettling.

(Continued on page 2)

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