The past decade has been a defining one in Boston history. No event better left its stamp on the city than the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013 and its harrowing aftermath. But there were so many others. Our sports teams won (and won and won), our city’s skyline was transformed as the economy surged, our politicians sought the national spotlight. And one awful winter, we all wondered if we’d ever dig our way out of the snow. In the past 10 years, the Globe chronicled so much of what changed in this city and so much of what stayed familiar. We held institutions accountable and chronicled some of the most bizarre criminal behavior we’ve seen. We told tales of unimaginable grief and triumph over loss. It was a good decade and a heartbreaking one and all the things in between.
So as we approach the end of the decade, we convened a group of editors and reporters to select some of the most memorable stories of the past 10 years. These are the subjects and stories in Greater Boston that most stuck with us. No doubt you have your own list. Tell us what stories most resonated with you.
The Amy Bishop case — Just four months after the 45-year-old college professor went on a rampage at the University of Alabama Huntsville on Feb. 10, 2010, killing three colleagues and injuring three others, the Braintree native was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of her brother 24 years earlier. Authorities decided against pursuing the Braintree case after the Harvard-educated biologist was sentenced to life in prison for the Alabama slayings.
The election of Scott Brown — The improbable election of a Republican who came from behind in a barn jacket and a pickup truck to beat Democratic Martha Coakley for the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy was seen as one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts political history, and made national headlines. Brown would eventually lose his seat to Elizabeth Warren, but in that moment, it was a historic victory.
Whitey Bulger’s capture — For years the whereabouts of James “Whitey” Bulger remained one of the enduring Boston mysteries. In June 2011, the city awoke to the news that Bulger and his girlfriend had been caught in Santa Monica after 16 years on the lam. Here’s the story of the life they lived in exile.
Legalization of casinos — It would be years before the first Massachusetts casino opened, but back in 2011, the legalization of casinos followed years of intense lobbying by the gambling industry and allowed for three full-scale casinos and one slot-machine parlor to open in the state.
Titletown USA — The Bruins’ victory over the Vancouver Canucks in June 2011 was Boston’s seventh pro sports championship in 11 years, cementing the city’s reputation as Titletown. “It is the High Renaissance of New England sports. Our Duck Boat tires are balding,” the Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy wrote. Boston’s reign would only grow the rest of the decade, with the Red Sox adding two additional championships and the Patriots notching three more.
The rise of Elizabeth Warren — The real rise of Elizabeth Warren came in her days as a Harvard Law School professor and overseer of the financial crisis bailout. But her election to the US Senate marked the start of her career in elected office.
The compounding pharmacy crisis — The case was one of the nation’s worst public health disasters involving medications. The New England Compounding Center in Framingham mailed thousands of drugs contaminated with a mold that killed dozens of people and sickened hundreds more.
The Boston Marathon bombing — The Marathon bombing was the local story of the decade, one that left an indelible mark on the city. The explosions near the finish line of Boston’s signature annual sporting event killed three people and injured several hundred others, including more than a dozen who lost limbs. The bombers — two brothers from Cambridge — later killed an MIT police officer and kidnapped a man in his car before one brother died during a shootout in Watertown and the other was captured after an unprecedented manhunt.
Chasing Bayla — The Globe connected with readers on an intensely personal story of one man’s chance to save one female whale named Bayla. With its multiplatform palette, the story broke new ground in long-form story-telling.
The case of Jared Remy — The son of Jerry Remy, one of New England’s most beloved sports figures, Jared Remy was sentenced to life in prison in March 2014 for murdering his girlfriend, 27-year-old Jennifer Martel. For years leading up to the slaying, Jared had amassed a long criminal record but minimal punishment.
Deflategate — The allegations seem small-bore, at first blush: tampering with the air pressure of footballs in a 2014 playoff game. But the Deflategate scandal mushroomed into a national story, providing fodder for those who brand the Patriots “cheaters.” After legal challenges and appeals, it ended with Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension in the 2016 season.
Snowmaggedon — The snow that came in the winter of 2015 broke nearly all records for snow totals in the Boston area. Cars were encased in ice for weeks, the T was paralyzed, children spent days out of school. Usually, weather stories don’t make lists like this, but this year was one for the books.
Clash in the name of care — The Globe Spotlight Team investigated the trend of concurrent surgeries at Massachusetts General Hospital, also known as double booking. The story drew attention to a little discussed issue and led to reforms in the industry.
The search for Bella Bond — It wasn’t until a few months later that we learned the name of the girl whose body was found in a plastic bag on the shore of Deer Island, in Boston Harbor. But the story captivated the city from the moment her tiny body was located until the eventual trial of her mother’s boyfriend.
Trump’s election — Really, the election of Donald Trump was just the start of the decade’s biggest political story — and probably the biggest national story, period. But it was a monumental start, indeed.
Legalization of marijuana — Massachusetts voters approved a ballot initiative making recreational cannabis legal in the state, opening the door to a massive new industry. It would be two years before the first shops opened.
The biggest threat facing middle-age men? It’s loneliness — Globe reporter Billy Baker’s first-person meditation in the Globe Magazine was one of the most-read stories of recent years. The lesson: As men grow older, they tend to let their friendships lapse. But there’s still time to do something about it.
The conviction of Michelle Carter — Accused of goading a troubled teenager, via texts and phone calls, into killing himself in 2014, Michelle Carter was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in 2017.
The Last Refugee — As the refugee crisis became an international story, a three-part series in the Globe chronicled the tribulations of families who fled the war in Syria and settled in Greater Boston.
The life, crimes, and death of Aaron Hernandez — The former New England Patriot committed suicide in prison in April 2017, at age 27. He had dazzled crowds with his spectacular athleticism, only to be implicated in one murder, then two others. The Globe chronicled his rise and fall in a series and a podcast.
Losing Laura — Peter DeMarco shared with Globe readers his heartbreaking tale of his wife, Laura Levis, who did everything she could to save herself when an asthma attack began in 2016. She went to Somerville Hospital, but found the door to the emergency room locked. Laura was left to die just outside the ER.
The opioid crisis — Opioids claimed nearly 2,000 lives in Massachusetts in 2018, more than double just five years earlier, as heroin and fentanyl use altered the picture of the crisis.
Addressing race — The Globe’s Spotlight Team took on one of the hardest questions facing the city: Does Boston deserve its racist reputation? The ambitious seven-part series concluded that the answer is both complicated and sometimes quite discouraging.
Tom Brady, fountain of youth — At the age of 41 Tom Brady became the oldest NFL quarterback to win a Super Bowl. His sixth championship reminded us why this guy may have just beaten back the time clock. Could it be the outcome of his notoriously restricted and regimented diet and exercise program?
Varsity Blues — The accused families were mostly on the West Coast. But the prosecutor was in Boston, making this city ground zero for a startling case in which wealthy families and Hollywood stars were accused of cheating and bribery to get their children into elite colleges.
MBTA’s woes laid bare — The derailment of a Red Line train in June not only disrupted life for thousands of commuters on the region’s busiest subway line for months. The slowdown — coming just before the T increased fares on July 1 — also inflamed public frustration with the region’s aging system.
Affirmative action — For months the world of higher education awaited a court ruling in Boston on whether Harvard discriminated against Asian students in admissions. In October, a federal judge decided Harvard had not discriminated, knocking back efforts to overturn affirmative action in higher education.
Beantown to Boomtown — The value of the city’s taxable property, led by the burgeoning Seaport District, hit a historic high of $164 billion last fiscal year. That’s a 78 percent increase from 2013, according to a report that underscored how expensive Boston has become. Reality check: Not everyone is sharing in that prosperity.
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