Phoneography Challenge: My Neighborhood — Roxbury in Boston

I carry a small point and shoot with me all the time and most of my pictures end up being taken with this camera — the Canon PowerShot S100 — rather than my larger, more complicated and expensive system camera. I guess it’s ironic. My little Canon cost less than a single lens in the larger system. It weighs almost nothing and takes up no more room than a cell phone.

We lived in Roxbury for more than a decade, only leaving when the construction of The Big Dig made living there untenable. I still think of it as home, along with the entire city of Boston. Between Roxbury, Beacon Hill, and Charles River Park, we lived in Boston neighborhoods for a very long time and I always enjoy going back again whenever we have an excuse. These were all taken a few weeks ago when we returned to the old neighborhood for a memorial  event for an old friend who recently passed away. The neighborhood is looking better than it did when we lived there. It’s one of those neighborhoods that is improving. I would stop short of calling it gentrifying. I don’t think the folks who live there want it gentrified. They don’t consider themselves gentry and neither do we.

This is a bit of Roxbury. It was, once upon a time, a city in its own right, but years ago it was absorbed and became a neighborhood within greater Boston. It is almost entirely Black and when I lived there, I was often the only white face in the crowd. Despite that, it was by far the friendliest neighborhood in which I’ve ever lived. We had great neighbors, wonderful block parties, and a sense of community we have never had anywhere else. People in general don’t understand how wonderful these ethnic neighborhoods  can be, how warm and supportive the community is when they consider you one of their own. I still miss it, though I love the country. Each place has its own charms, but Roxbury was a wonderful — and eye-opening — experience.

I do not shoot with my cell phone.  I cannot afford the data package that it would make it practical to use mobile apps for anything other than emergencies and our cell phones are for emergency use. Life is not always a matter of preference. More often than not, you don’t get to decide how you will live. Life hands itself to you and it’s your job to figure out how to make it work.

Categories: Arts, Cameras, city, photo, Photography

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

25 replies

  1. I grew up in Boston, so I recognize quite a few of these places. Thanks for the trip back to my former home!


  2. We’ll be visiting Boston in the Fall so thank you for this look around this neighbourhood. I’m just putting together my entry for the phoneography challenge and all the photos are from my lovely little canon which travels everywhere with me. My phone is for talking and texting!

    All the best
    Sally 🙂


    • Those little Canon’s are great “go everywhere” cameras, aren’t they? My phone is a communication device and so it shall remain. Boston is a great town, especially if you know how to maneuver through it (probably navigation is the hardest part … next to parking, that is). If you need any tips or hints, we lived in the city for a very long time … Garry more than 30 years … so we are pretty familiar with the territory.

      On Sun, Mar 10, 2013 at 10:55 AM, SERENDIPITY


      • Thank you! That’s lovely of you. We’re going to be driving all over New England searching out covered bridges and lighthouses and leaf-peeping, starting and ending in Boston. We visited once before with old friends of my parents, Ann and Roy Freed, who showed us around then.

        As we get closer I’ll remember your offer.

        All the best, 🙂


        • You sure are coming at the right time. With a little luck, you won’t get rained out. It’s been the bane of our autumn season for some years now. Just as the leaves are ready to peak, there’s a leftover hurricane coming up the coast that just washes the whole thing away before it’s finished. 2009 was the last great year we didn’t get rained out. Hope this one is a goodie.

          On Sun, Mar 10, 2013 at 11:29 AM, SERENDIPITY


  3. TeePee, thanks for the photos of Boston. It has been many years since I lived there and your photos brought back great memories. It makes no difference whether you used a camera or a phone. For me, life is all about preference and choices. I don’t feel like this is an insensitive challenge. It’s a choice. I enjoyed the challenge of using my old and very used phone. That’s why it’s called Weekly Photo Challenge. When life gives me lemons, which by the way I have tons of them, I try to make something delicious out of them. Keep shooting..keep positive..and keep participating in the Weekly Photo Challenges.


    • Thanks for the encouragement. It kind of makes me feel like a second class citizen. How do you like Nicaragua? Is the weather wonderful?


      • Teepee, don’t let ANYONE determine who you are or how you feel. I don’t even know you, but looking through your blog, you are a creative and innovative blogger. 🙂 Let’s just say that living on a tropical island in Nicaragua is always a challenge. It’s really windy here today and the ferries that run to the mainland aren’t running. So, every tourist is stuck here until tomorrow. haha.


        • Thanks. A tropical island far from my family sounds idyllic right now. I keep wondering why we are still here, freezing and up to our butts in snow while we watch our little bit of money disappear. It’s depressing.


  4. Very nice neighborhood! I have not been to Boston in years!


  5. I may have a smartphone, which allows me to blend with gratitude my work and personal lives in a way I could not do either as fully as I am able to do due to technology. However, I still have on my bucket list a nice “big” (expensive) camera. Pretty amazing what our point-and-shoots can capture and how quickly technology has developed over the years from the old film cameras! Boston is such an interesting character-filled city.


    • Thanks. Boston is a photogenic city, and I shoot there whenever I have an opportunity. I have a whole range of cameras, from full size (never use it, wrists not strong enough anymore, so it has become my granddauther’s camera). When I’m planning a shoot, I use my Olympus PENs. If spontaneity is the name of the game, it will be one of my two little Canon P&S’s. The S100 is tiny, high quality, light and compact, so it’s a great “go everywhere” camera.


  6. I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. For details on acceptance please visit
    I appreciate your posts. – John Howell


  7. The old neighborhood is looking pretty good. So vastly different from the Roxbury I found when I arrived in Boston back in 1970. That Roxbury was still pretty grim stemming from the social upheaval White Flight of the late 60’s.


  8. I love your photos. I do not take photos with my phone. I just use a camera too 🙂



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