SWAT raids the Herald

I hear that Boston SWAT plans to raid the old Boston Herald office for a training exercise. It’s not the prettiest of buildings, but it was also the cornerstone of local geography and the fortress of solitude for an army of reporters.

The Herald found a new pad in the Seaport District not long ago. A frayed American Flag still flies outside their abandoned building on Harrison Avenue. A guy might have brought it down each night when the office was full of activity. But now the parking lots are vacant and the front door is covered in plywood. I often make use of the mail boxes out front during my commute home. This isn’t a vibrant area like Back Bay or Downtown. . . the closest sights are a bakery, an Asian supermarket, the turnpike extension, and unimaginative Albany Street. The new owner of the Harrison property plans to convert the place into apartments–the fate of most Boston architecture. I think the cops will love racing through those empty halls with flashlights looking for fake bad guys.

Back in college, my journalism professor took we fledgling students on a tour of the Herald. Our campus newspaper office was a shanty that shared space with a dance studio. The Herald office was a real newsroom, like the ones in All The President’s Men or The Paper. I remember a labyrinth of desks and cabinets, the overhead stretch of fluorescent lights, and the jungle of printing machinery down below. Like the Boston Globe, these guys worked for a living. Even when I started out as a travel reporter in 2001, I still considered them the real deal.

I wonder if a reporter or a photographer will follow SWAT into the old space, poke around the empty rooms and sniff out the history. A lifeless newspaper office must be a strange place, but the old Herald building is still part of Boston history.


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