A Photo Essay of Boston’s North End Saint Agrippina Festival & Saint Anthony’s Feast
Boston’s North End is a fascinating place, but it comes alive in August with a series of local Italian Festivals. Throughout the month of August, you’ll find a parade every weekend with street fireworks and local bands marching through the street. I really like Boston’s North End, a lot. There’s a richness of culture here, history in the form of mom and pop shops with generations of business, and a real sense of deep-rooted community.
In a world where everything is always changing, there’s a sense of permanence here which I find incredibly refreshing in this day in age.
It’s rare today to find a place where you meet people who’ve spent their entire lives on a single street. I walk my dog down the street and greet the same bunch of local Italian men, some likely kin to the North End’s mafia days. They sit outside in lawn chairs, people watching and smoking stogies. Life is still beautifully simple for many here.
There’s a different feel here, a world of its own. And if you let them, these locals will talk to you on the street for hours at a time. One local told me that the biggest way the North End has changed has been how my generation never talks to people anymore. I’ve been trying to make an effort to be more social here. You used to be able to walk up to anyone and just talk, but people today are so different he says. This same local also told me that the North End was also a lot safer back when the mob ran the streets. “No one would mess with women back then,” he said. You can thank Whitey Bulger for that change, lol. If you want to know more about the North End’s Mob Era, read this article. It’s a good article.
But the Saint Anthony’s Feast is the largest festival of the year. Regina Pizza is usually the largest sponsor. Some of the most historic blocks of the North End are shut off and vendors with fantastic local Italian food line the streets. You can find rice ball, cannolis, Italian ice, street food galore, men smoking stogies, locals sitting in yard chairs in the middle of the street, and just a general celebration of culture within this close-knit community. Honestly, it reminded me a bit of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. I’m kinda proud to call this place my home :).
On a side note, for those who follow my photography, I normally shoot with a Leica M9 but it has been to the Leica doctor getting treated for sensor burnout for the last two months. Leica installed some faulty sensors and had to replace them, free of charge at least. So in the meantime, I bought a used Ricoh GR to fill in for my street and travel photography and to be honest, I’m obsessed with this camera.
This camera shoots insanely well, it’s so well made, and it’s so light and easy. Since day one, I’ve been obsessed with it. You can find a used one between $300 and $500. I didn’t buy the upgraded GR II because I felt it wasn’t worth the extra cost. I’ll write more on this camera later, but just in case you’re wondering. People often ask me what camera I shoot with. Truth is, I shoot with like 10 different cameras! These are all shot with Ricoh GR though.