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April 20, 2013

Scenes from the 'demilitarized zone'

The route of the Boston Marathon, whose finish line and home stretch were transformed into scenes of carnage Monday afternoon about 2:50 p.m., became a virtual “demilitarized zone” Friday, said Nancy Gaines, a Times news correspondent, Gloucester resident, and writer for the Improper Bostonian, who had gone into Boston Thursday on assignment by the Improper and stayed overnight at the Buckminster Hotel in Kenmore Square.

With all residents of Boston, Watertown, Cambridge, Newton, Waltham and Belmont told by police to essentially stay inside their homes while police carried out their manhunt for the remaining Marathon bombing terrorist suspect, Gaines said the police were enforcing a “shelter in place” policy, allowing people to move from venue to venue when essential.

But with all MBTA service — including commuter trains to and from Cape Ann — shut down, and Boston University, like Harvard, MIT and Northeastern, closed for the day, the typical “hurly-burly” of a Kenmore morning did not exist, Gaines said.

Taxis, she said, were allowed back in service and auto traffic within the city was also restored around Kenmore Square, but traffic was slight.

Gaines had also been a guest at a “Marathon party” on Monday, but decided to get a train back to Gloucester about an hour before the bombs exploded near where she had been watching the famed test of endurance and grit.

“There, but the grace of a train schedule, I’d have been at ground zero at the wrong time,” Gaines said Friday by phone from Eastern Standard, the popular restaurant-bar in the Hotel Commonwealth.

“I feel a bit of survivor’s guilt, a reporter and an observer to provide help,” she said.

Even amid Friday’s “shelter” order, Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square, Gaines said by telephone, was serving breakfast to about 90 people, mostly visitors staying at the Hotel Commonwealth. Kenmore Square is about a mile from the bombing sites on Boylston Street.

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