Comparing Boston and Seattle

Monday, October 2nd, 2023

Most of the ten people reading this blog have a vested interest in Seattle’s well-being. I would bet all of them are displeased, or at a minimum, frustrated with Seattle’s direction in the last ten years. Over the last couple months, I’ve spent two weekends in Boston. Undoubtedly, there are parts of Boston I have not seen, but I’ve probably taken 50 miles of Uber rides, I have also ridden “the T”, and have probably walked 8-10 miles.

I have yet to see any homeless tentsnot one. I have seen very little graffiti. Boston’s downtown retail environment, especially when compared to downtown Seattle, is thriving. I have not seen any outdoor drug use.

I’m not writing this to bash Seattle, but I am curious, why do the cities feel so different? Boston and the state of Massachusetts are famously liberal. Their mayoral office is non-partisan, but their mayor was endorsed by progressive Democrats. Both cities have roughly 650,000 residents.

In property management, we rarely create anything new; we copy others who have created new ways of doing things. What’s working so well in Boston? Wouldn’t it be easy for our government to do a quick analysis on why they’re so different? Or maybe establish a competition that galvanizes both City governments to do something better? Wouldn’t our politicians be more credible if they said, “this has been really successful in Portland, or LA, or Boston”, versus an “I feel like this isn’t compassionate enough statement?” Or maybe the Seattle Times or another local news organization would take it upon themselves to illustrate the similarities or differences between what seem to be, at least ideologically, two very similar cities. I can tell you one thing, from the view of their sidewalks and parks, Boston looks and feels so much better.