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After bombings, Boston subdued as routines reemerge

April 17, 2013|By Noam N. Levey, Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Laura J. Nelson
  • People exit the T subway train blocks away from the scene of Monday's bombing attack at the Boston Marathon.
People exit the T subway train blocks away from the scene of Monday's… (Spencer Platt / Getty Images )

BOSTON—After two bombs exploded near the Boston Marathon finish line, life in a grieving city showed signs of returning to normal Tuesday. Commuters donned suits and headed to work. Children with backpacks left for school. Trains clattered toward the city center.

And yet everything had changed.

Soldiers stood at attention inside MBTA train stations. National Guardsmen checked IDs of people who live near the blast site. And vigils, signs and barricades across the city served as constant reminders of Monday's events.

“Everyone's down,” said Leo Doolin, 49, of Dorchester, as he rode a Red Line train downtown and read a newspaper story about the bombings. "Everybody's very quiet.”

Photos: Explosions at Boston Marathon

As investigators piece together what happened near Copley Square, residents say they are trying to grapple with dueling ideas: that life will return to normal, and that nothing ever will be.

“Everyone has to go back to work or school,” said Deanna Lewis, 21, a junior at Boston University, as she studied a notebook while waiting for her train. But, she added, “there is still fear.”

By 2 p.m. Tuesday, people filtered into sidewalk cafes along Newbury Street, an upscale shopping district a block from the blast site. Stores opened their doors. A block away, police barricades blocked access to what are typically some of the busiest blocks in downtown Boston.

Around nightfall, the FBI and more than 30 Massachusetts and federal law enforcement agencies continued to comb the blast sites for clues. About one square mile around Copley Square remained cordoned off by Boston police and National Guardsmen who were checking residents' IDs. SWAT and canine teams roamed the area.

Commuter traffic seemed to have dropped at bus and MBTA stations in downtown Boston, said Julie Merhaut, 25. A few students waited at a bus stop on Commonwealth Avenue with her—about a quarter of the usual crowd, she said. Nearby T stops, as MBTA stations are known, were empty.

Merhaut is a clinical research associate at Boston Medical Center, where many of the bombing victims were being treated. As she waited for her bus, she said she was "just trying to stay as normal as possible—that's what they're telling us at work."

"It was eerie this morning," she said, still wearing her scrubs. "The police presence is insane, especially in the Copley area."

Levey and Hennessy-Fiske reported from Boston, Nelson from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali contributed to this report.

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