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'Strong like cement': Site of Boston attack is paved over and reopened

A week and a half after two blasts shook Boston, the site of one of the bombings was paved over and reopened. Two residents and a city worker share their thoughts.

A week and a half after terror ripped through the heart of Boston, a sign of recovery arrived on Boylston Street, where the marathon had come to an abrupt, horrifying end.

"The people of Boston are strong like cement. Strong people. They get together when it's needed," said Robert Bibias, a city masonry worker who early Wednesday cemented over what had been a blood-stained, debris-filled crime scene. "I'm proud, but in the meantime, I'm sad."

Since last Monday -- when twin bombs exploded near the finish line of the marathon, killing three people and injuring more than 200 -- Boylston Street has been closed. The normally bustling street was rendered eerily quiet -- a constant reminder to the grieving city of what had happened.

Justin Lane / EPA

People walk past the site of the first bombing at the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Boylston Street in Boston, Mass., on Wednesday. The city has reopened the street which was the site of two bombings on April 15, at the finish line of the marathon that killed three people and injured 264.

At about 3:35 a.m. on Wednesday morning, with little fanfare, police officers removed the barricades that had been there for the past nine days, The Boston Globe reported, and Boylston Street was no longer a crime scene. A large sign at the Copley Station trolley stop that read "Closed for the Marathon" was finally taken down, the Globe said.

The fresh cement at the site of the first bombing was surrounded by orange construction cones as the sidewalk opened to pedestrian traffic. A steady flow of visitors stopped by, snapping photos.

The layer of concrete also meant it was time to go back to work for many Bostonians, including Rosalio Rodriguez, 40, who washes windows for some Boylston Street businesses.

“I didn’t work all last week,” Rodriguez told The Globe just before 4 a.m. as he wiped a squeegee over the windows of a Starbucks that was just a few feet from the second explosion. “All the stores were closed.”

Priscilla Portugal, who works at the Starbucks, hung her green apron on a tree near the site of the second explosion on Wednesday in memory of the victims. Flags, balloons and t-shirts with handwritten messages for the victims on them already packed the area.

Reuters / Jessica Rinaldi

Priscilla Portugal, an employee of the Starbucks store on Boylston Street located near the site of the second explosion, hangs an apron on a tree inside a memorial set up in memory of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings after the street reopened to the public for the first time since the bombings.

While most of the debris from the bombings was cleaned up last week, Boston is still filled with remnants of the terrorist attack. The glass storefront to Marathon Sports -- adjacent to where the first explosion went off -- had been blown out and replaced with a large poster reading "Boston Strong," the motto the city adopted after the attack.

Ziad Jaber / NBC News

A memorial is placed at Copley Square in Boston.

The marquee letters of The Tannery, a nearby clothing store, were still hanging, jolted out of place from the force of the blast, reported The Globe.

In Boston's Copley Square, a memorial overflowing with flowers, photos, and stuffed animals for the victims of the bombings filled the sidewalk. 

On Monday, at 2:50 p.m., exactly one week after the first bomb went off, Bostonians held a moment of silence.

Lacey Clements, who lives in the Boston suburb of Waltham, told The Globe he came downtown specifically to see the reopening of Boylston Street on Wednesday.

“You get a sense that something happened here, but in a way, it’s almost back to normal, or at least a sense of normalcy,” Clements said. “It’s like, OK, this is the same as it ever was. This is Copley Square. This is Boston.”

Heightened security, empty streets, and memorials mark the the days after the Boston Marathon bombings.