How often do you explore your own city? While I have a number of plans in my head to visit different parts of Boston, I have a tendency to collect rather than enact these plans. Today, however, I finally made a long-awaited visit to East Boston. If you have ever considered a trip to Boston, you likely did an online search beforehand about things to do. Popular places include Boston Common, Fenway Park, and Harvard University. As a resident, I have already visited all of the top Boston sites, however, I’m still eager to see new things.
One day at work, I was speaking to a colleague and was telling him that I wanted to see more of Boston this winter. We were stationed in East Boston at the time, and he mentioned that this part of town has a large statue called “Madonna Queen of the Universe,” which was of the Virgin Mary. He did a Google search of the statue and showed it to me on his phone. I was astounded! This is a seriously large and imposing structure. Never had I thought that something so prominent was right here in Boston. How could I have not known about it!? In that moment, I decided to make “Madonna Queen of the Universe” the next stop on my Boston-based adventures.
To get to the statue, I took the blue line on Boston’s subway, known as the “T”, to Maverick station in East Boston. East Boston is separated from downtown by a body of water, which means to get to this section of the city one must either take a bridge or tunnel. The T goes through a tunnel and emerges just on the other side of the water. East Boston is home to a large Spanish and Portuguese-speaking community. I passed a number of restaurants and stores, which had signage completely in Spanish. East Boston is also seemingly divided along economic lines. The houses by the water and beachfront are noticeably newer and nicer than the properties located more inland.
The walk to “Madonna Queen of the Universe” was long from Maverick (48 mins according to Google Maps) but it was 60 degrees today (in January) so I thought a pace would be worth it. The statute is located on a hill, which means that the rear of the statue is highly visible from its surroundings. As I walked up the stairs to the structure, it was unclear to me where exactly the entrance was. There is a building underneath the statue and I saw a woman enter through a side door so I just quickly followed her in. I was momentarily stunned.
I had walked into a large, dark auditorium—a church altar actually. The altar was huge and filled with paintings, figurines, candles, and many other religious and festive items. It makes sense that the statue would be associated with a church, however, I was not expecting it. I walked through the building until I found an exit that led to the statue. Even if you are not religious, you may likely be impressed with the shear size of the statue. The statue sits in its own courtyard on the side of a hill and overlooks East Boston, Boston, and beyond. The view was truly marvelous!
I took a view pictures, enjoyed the view, but did not stay long to admire the statue. I began to walk back to the T station, but decided to end my short trip to East Boston with a stop at the beach. Although Boston sits on the Atlantic coast, beachfront access is relatively limited and heavily concentrated in East Boston and the outskirts. I found an entrance to the beach near Orient Heights and walked towards the water. The sand area is limited, but the beach was near empty on this January day. Just beyond the water, visitors will see the Boston Logan International airport. From the beach one can see planes taking off and landing and hear the roar of the engines.
It is amazing how much there is still to see in the place that I call my home. While I only made two stops in East Boston, I know that there are many other little things and places that I would like to see and experience. Dear Reader, if you think you’ve seen it all, my best advice to you is—just keep looking!