September 21-27, 2001
Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
Terror: The Week After
Amid heightened tension, Boston tightens security
By Jill Lerner
Boston's Financial District escaped the terrorist attacks that devastated New York City last week, and still its downtown landscape may never be the same.
With identification checkers and increased security guards patrolling elevator banks and food courts of some of Boston's most prominent office towers, unfettered access to buildings — much like a trip to the shuttered John Hancock observatory — may be a thing of the past.
Never mind couriers who must now sign in with security and, in some cases, leave packages with building personnel. Employees at FleetBoston Financial Corp.'s 100 Federal St. headquarters are now required to present building identification or prove they are a Fleet customer simply to enter the building. Patrons who took advantage of one of the best deals in town at the building's once-public cafeteria will have to dine elsewhere "indefinitely," according to spokeswoman Alison Gibbs.
Security, said Richard Primrose, president of Palladion Security Services Inc., which handles many downtown office buildings including the Boston Stock Exchange, has gone "from the role of being a visible deterrent to a much more active deterrent."
Following Tuesday's attacks, Primrose made a number of security recommendations to clients, including locking peripheral doors, requiring all tenants to show building identification, restructuring deliveries so that no carriers are allowed in the upper floors of buildings and restricting access to parking garages and loading docks.
At the Stock Exchange in the Boston Safe Deposit & Trust building, for example, the recommendations have resulted in the closure of its visitor's gallery and the requirement that all visitors and delivery personnel sign in with security before gaining access to a tenant's space.
Meredith & Grew Inc., which manages the 24-floor office building at 160 Federal St., doubled its security after last Tuesday, according to Michael Quinn, head of property management. And The Chiofaro Co., which owns the International Place office building, has roughly tripled security throughout the 46-floor and 35-floor towers and food court.
Visitors to the building must now show identification to go upstairs, and Chiofaro president Donald Chiofaro did not rule out closing the downstairs food court to outsiders in the future.
But to what end the hassle?
"It's a crock," said Angelo M. Codevilla, an international-relations professor at Boston University specializing in the Middle East as well as political and military conflicts.
"I know that no amount of security can thwart a determined terrorist."
Rather, said Codevilla, all real security comes only from two sources: the willingness of individual members of the public to defend themselves and defeating the causes that motivate terrorists.
Despite last week's attacks, Codevilla said he doesn't consider office buildings "target-rich" environments in general, since they are more difficult to destroy than common terrorist targets such as buses.
"I just don't think that the business community in Boston has any particular reason to fear," he said.
Many workers find the beefed up measures comforting all the same, especially after a week that saw downtown Boston employees evacuating after a flurry of bomb fears.
"It's not an imposition. It's a small price to pay," said William J. Nutt, chairman and chief executive officer of Affiliated Managers Group Inc., whose company is a tenant in International Place.
And to that end, building owner Chiofaro walked each floor of his property last Friday, and has added customer-relations representatives throughout the office tower with the objective, he said, of making people feel more comfortable.
"I think it's a comfort level," said Maryann Suydam, regional senior vice president for Equity Office Properties Trust, whose company also has increased security in its portfolio of downtown properties that includes Post Office Square and Rowes Wharf.
"I personally do not believe a terrorist is looking to do something in Boston any one of us can stop."