Saturday, August 07, 2010

The ruins of Viking Boston

To live in a city is to live in other people’s worlds. The residue of what others did and thought coheres in layers that add up over time, giving urban experience its signature thickness. Boston is old and dense with such layers, especially for an American city, and it has specialized in a certain kind of strong-minded character — intelligent, resourceful, inspired, sometimes deluded — capable of leaving a lasting mark.

Take, for instance, Ebenezer Norton Horsford, the chemist, entrepreneur, and amateur archeologist who’s responsible for many of the Viking-themed touches on view in the city today. The 192nd anniversary of his birth passed without general notice last week, but he’s a local figure worth considering.

At Memorial Drive and Fresh Pond Parkway in Cambridge, behind Mount Auburn Hospital, there’s an official-looking granite historical marker inscribed with a claim so wishful that it probably qualifies as a lie: “On this spot in the year 1000 Leif Erikson built his house in Vineland."

Click here to read the article from The Boston Globe