Boston's Boylston Street, site of bombings, sees residents return

By Samuel P. Jacobs

BOSTON (Reuters) - Workers and residents returned Tuesday to Boston's Boylston Street for the first time since twin bombings struck the downtown artery at the Boston Marathon finish line last week.

Mayor Tom Menino allowed those who live and work on Boylston Street in the city's Back Bay neighbourhood to return with escorts. But the area remained closed to the public after the April 15 bombings that killed three people and wounded 264.

Some $20 million has been raised in the past week to aid bombing victims and their families, officials said.

For stores along Boylston Street, the marathon with its thousands of runners and tens of thousands of spectators typically is one of the year's high points.

The week that follows is traditionally one of the most profitable of the year, shop and restaurant owners said.

"Monday is usually the busiest day of the year," said Chris Kourtidis, 44, the owner of Steve's, a Greek restaurant not far from the finish line. "It's what we wait for."

During the city-wide lockdown on Friday as authorities hunted for suspected bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 19, Steve's was one of the few places open for visitors at downtown hotels and workers stranded in Boston's Back Bay neighbourhood.

"I'm not going to let a 19-year-old kid dictate my life," he said.

The crime scene was handed over to Boston city officials by federal authorities at a ceremony on Monday. The city has not announced when the street will be open to all.

Health and building inspectors could be seen visiting stores and buildings on Tuesday. Officials said the street would be closed by evening.

Around the perimeter of the six-block area still cordoned off by Boston police, people planted Americans flags on the grass in front of the 151-year-old Trinity Church, which has been closed to parishioners

Outside the Boylston Street office of IHRDC, a training company for the oil and gas industry, vice president Tim Donohue, 43, said revenues were largely unaffected by the closure but that he worried about the smaller retail shops.

"You can't sell bagels if no one is here," Donohue said.

Edward Borash, president of a Sir Speedy printing franchise on Boylston Street, described the experience as "horrible,"

"We don't care about the lost business," he said. "We care about what's going on in our city."

Feinberg said he will hold public meetings in May to discuss how the funds should be distributed. Checks will start to be distributed in June, he said.

(Additional reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Cynthia Osterman)