The busy streets of downtown Boston came to a standstill on Monday, as people stopped to observe a moment of silence at 2:50 p.m., the time the first bomb exploded at the Boston Marathon on April 15, one week ago.
With grief, but also a sense of dignity, hundreds of people gathered at various landmarks around the city with their co-workers, families, and total strangers to mark the moment of silence together.
Church bells echoed across the city after the minute tribute, but at Copley Square, which is within the six-block crime scene area, a couple hundred people lining the streets stood in silence for more than five minutes. The Old South and Trinity churches also stood silent, because they, too, are in the off-limits area. Slowly people stepped away from the police barricade, going back to work, walking their dogs, or pushing kids in strollers.
"God bless the people of Massachusetts. Boston Strong," Gov. Deval Patrick said after the moment had ended, standing on the steps of the State House with Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Secretary of State William Galvin, and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
One group standing on Boylston Street quietly sang “God Bless America” before leaving the area, while another cheered for a police officer pumping his fists in the air.
At City Hall, people just stopped in their tracks during the moment of silence, says Brian Signore, who is visiting from Tampa, Fla.
“Everybody just came together, but I guess tragedy is something that brings people together,” he says.
Doreen Reis, an advertising manager at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was in the Prudential Shopping Center looking out the glass windows onto Boylston Street, a block away from where the second bomb exploded.
She said the moment of silence helped the community reflect but also move beyond this tragedy, though it may take some time to completely heal.
“It’s so irrational,” she says. “People aren’t equipped to deal with this type of event – it’s a real mental process.”
Ms. Reis took two co-workers to visit the memorial site at the corner of Boylston and Berkeley streets, where people have been leaving running shoes with notes, Red Sox hats, and bouquets of flowers.
Standing behind the barricade at the site, people looked down Boylston Street toward where the finish line was located, taking photos of the completely empty street.
“I walk down Boylston Street everyday on my way home from work,” Reis says. “It’s surreal to see the street so barren.”
But downtown Boston was full of people Monday afternoon – some heading to the Red Sox game at Fenway Park, others shopping, and students strolling.
Mr. Signore said it was good to see Bostonians getting back to business, reviving the city’s energy level. “There is definitely a sense of pride that you see today,” he says. “People aren’t going to be held back by this."
Signore and his friend Jason Delangie of Bedford, N.H., were sitting in a cafe when they heard the news that bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had been officially charged by federal authorities Monday.
“I’m just glad they caught him alive,” Mr. Delangie says. Even in New Hampshire, they followed Friday’s manhunt in real time, listening to police scanners on their smart phones.
“Justice will be served one way or another,” says Signore. “He doesn’t get to take the easy way out.”
Outside Boston, Congress paused business in Washington to observe the moment, and so did President Obama. The New York Stock Exchange stopped trading on the floor. In Paris, a three-mile run was organized to show solidarity with Boston, but even there, the participants stopped for the moment of silence, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.