Residents of the Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the South End and Fenway who feel they weren't built for cars can sleep soundly knowing their neighborhoods weren't either.
It's easy to get to just about any point in this city without ever sitting behind the wheel of a car because the city's first residents needed it to be that way. The winding streets Mayor Thomas Menino calls "cow paths" were often just that. The city's Colonial-era survival was based on its density, residents' proximity to goods and services and the ability to get those goods home without carrying them a great distance.
"Cities that were largely built in World War II and post-World War II were built with the car at the center of them," Herst says. "When you think about cities like Boston and New York City, at least at the center of them, they were built into meaningful metropolises before the car."
The oldest subway system in America has helped make it easier for Bostonians to get from place to place, but T riders disenchanted with the aging system might prefer pulling cattle. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority moved more than 373 million riders through its light rail, commuter rail, ferries and buses last year, with 149 million of those riders taking a subway that has had portions running since 1897.