The time is three o'clock in the afternoon. The blinds are pulled back from the small single window in the office of Boston Bruins general manager Harry Sinden. The city stares him in the face.
"It's quite a view," Sinden says. "Just standing here through the years, I think I've seen about every human activity there is to see."
The new Boston skyline stands behind the old Custom House Tower, which stands behind Quincy Market Place, which stands behind the Government Center parking garage, which stands behind Canal Street and Sullivan's Tap and the No. 4 Lounge and the corner of Causeway Street and the elevated train to Lechmere and the elevated Southeast Expressway and the noise and confusion. Sunlight is filtered through iron girders. Heavy trucks battle with foreign cars. Pedestrians escape again with their lives.
"See that wall?" Sinden says, pointing to the concrete side of the North Station subway entrance. "That's where the rummies stand. Just stand there. I'll see the old rummies giving lessons sometimes to the young rummies on how to stand. You can see that's what they're doing. Giving lessons on how to stand."
Trains. Cars. People. That group of buildings over there? They belong to mob boss Gennaro Angiulo, who was ordered to dispose of them following his recent conviction on racketeering and other charges.
"I saw a woman take off her clothes in front of that parking lot over there," Sinden says. "She must have been 75 years old. Took off every piece of clothing. By the time she was finished there was a crowd, and the cops took her away."
Parking: $3.00 All Day, $8.00 On Nights Of Events. Peanuts: 25¢ per bag. Haircut? Shoeshine? Apples, oranges, photos while-U-wait? Cocktails? Official Celtics jerseys? Aluminum hockey sticks? Lessons in Tae-Kwon-Do? Trains to the North Shore, to clean air, pleasant farms and suburbs? The Charles River? The site of the Brinks robbery? Walk two blocks and all of this could be yours.
"Could you imagine this place anywhere else in the world?" Sinden asks. "This is Boston. This is the city. Could you imagine this place in...Houston? Could you? Houston?"
Welcome to the Boston Garden.
The arena sits on the top of a train station in the middle of some other decade. The '30s, perhaps. Maybe the '40s. No later than the '50s. Time stands still, typed into place by the fingers of Damon Runyon. Tommy Dorsey's orchestra plays forever, war bonds are sold, Cousy passes and Russell rebounds, Bobby Orr shoots a slapper from the point.