A Bold Vision for Boston

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This month is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and here at WBUR we're marking the event by listening back to the words of the 35th president. In his famed 1961 "City on a Hill" speech, JFK invoked the spirit of John Winthrop and other vaunted Puritan founders of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Winthrop reminded early colonists that they were seeking to found that shining city on a hill, that all the eyes of the world would be upon them.

That soaring ambition never withered on the vine in Massachusetts. In fact, it came to its most powerful fruition right here in Boston, a city that wasn't content to simple be "on a hill," but rather, considered itself to be "the Hub of the Universe." A place of big ideas and world class institutions, home to a populace that set the intellectual agenda of the country on everything from political and social progress, abolition and education reform, to innovation, technology, and modern day medical miracles.

In other words, we like to think big, and we think big of ourselves. So this is the unspoken backdrop to the 2013 Boston mayoral election. For the first time in 20 years, Bostonians have the opportunity to choose a new mayor for the 21st century. But has the tone of the race matched the lofty self-regard of the city, and the grand ambitions it once had? There have been important issues discussed — education chief among them — but have we heard either candidate really articulate their bold vision for Boston?


Christopher Lydon, longtime radio and television anchor, candidate for mayor of Boston in 1993, and host of Radio Open Source.

Michael Curry, president of the Boston branch of the NAACP.

Ed Glaeser, professor of economics at Harvard, where he also directs the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, and the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston.

This segment aired on November 4, 2013.


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