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Vanishing Boston

A field guide to Boston's 'lasting' treasures — to be enjoyed before they're razed in favor of chain stores

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Bromfield Street (Downtown Crossing)
Here's a stretch of pavement as character-rich as any in town. It's the opposite of glamorous. Barely 500 feet long, it's dingy and run-down, and even on sunny days it somehow seems shadowed by clouds. That may be why it's so great. Or maybe it's the unabashed utility of the businesses that line its sidewalks. The Luggage Store. The Watch Hospital. Bromfield Camera. Bromfield Pen Shop. Bromfield Nails. (If one wishes to get manicured at a different establishment, one has two other options: Nail Time or Hi-Tech Nails.) Maybe it's the sense it gives of a bygone past. Recently reopened Marliave Restaurant, established 1875. The old-time religion on offer at the Massachusetts Bible Society. The mid-century treasures — Ted Williams collectible plates, tiny bronze busts of JFK — to be found at Colonial Trading Company or Bay State Coin Company or J.J. Teaparty Rare Coins or Minutemen Coin and Jewelry. The barbershop hawking "today's cuts at our 1990s prices!" But with the luxury condo complex 45 Province looming over it, and with the mammoth One Franklin Tower development rising just south in Downtown Crossing, one wonders whether Bromfield Street's plainspoken, anachronistic charm is simply too vulnerable to the forceful gleaming newness of the city around it.

— Mike Miliard

MARLIAVE RESTAURANT | 10 Bosworth Street, Boston | 617.422.0004 | COLONIAL TRADING COMPANY | 102 Tremont Street, Boston | 617.695.1652 | BAY STATE COIN COMPANY | 31 Bromfield Street, Boston | 617.426.7828 | J.J. TEAPARTY RARE COINS | 49 Bromfield Street, Boston | 617.482.2398 | MINUTEMEN COIN AND JEWELRY | 29 Bromfield Street, Boston | 617.778.0409

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