To the editor:
As I was driving to Salem from Rosewood Rehab in West Peabody where I had visited my brother, Steve, I was suddenly transfixed in a time warp upon seeing downtown Peabody. It is as though I was back in my hometown of Salem, the city that I was born and raised in. But that was a long time ago, before Salem was transformed through urban renewal. I might add, however, not for the better.
In a miraculous way, I could see myself back in the 1940s walking on Essex Street in downtown Salem. On both sides of the street, I could see the tall, red-brick buildings that housed many of the various types of businesses the way downtown Peabody is now. Thank God that Peabody did not witness urban renewal as Salem did.
Salem was the shopping mecca of the North Shore. It was the place to be, especially on a Saturday night. The sidewalks were so crowded that one had to walk on the street in order to bypass throngs of shoppers to get to one’s destination.
The big difference now between Salem and Peabody is that one cannot drive through downtown Salem as before urban renewal, when drivers could view the beautiful architecture and see the different stores, as you now can do in Peabody.
The wounds of urban renewal will never heal. Salem, the city that I loved, will never recover from it. My heart still belongs in Salem.
I could go on and on, but that is not the purpose of this letter. I want to express how much I appreciate the changes made in downtown Peabody. The elimination of two lanes and the painted lines separating the lanes made a big difference. One can see the beautiful architecture of the tall, red-brick buildings that were hidden behind the vehicular traffic. The elimination of two lanes made a gigantic difference.
Peabody has become a smaller version of downtown Salem before urban renewal.
In conclusion, I want to congratulate Mayor Bettencourt, the Peabody City Council and all parties that helped make the change.
Peabody was my second home, since my family owned and operated two grocery stores in Peabody. I have many pleasant memories of the time my family ran the businesses and the friends we made.
Anthony V. Salvo
Anthony Salvo was mayor of Salem from 1984-1989.