Boston Magazine's Heart-Shaped Shoes: The Story Behind the Beautiful Cover

"To me, the cover says perseverance, and the cover says unity," the magazines editor said in an interview Thursday morning. Here's how the staff tracked down and photographed all those shoes.

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For their May cover, following the Boston Marathon bombing, Boston Magazine has created an indelible image made from shoes worn by the marathon's runners. The cover, while evoking the horror of the bombing, is primarily a forward looking message. Text inside the heart created by the shoes reads: "We Will Finish the Race."

Boston Magazine editor John Wolfson explained that the cover "helps us get out of the moment a little bit."

"To me, the cover says perseverance, and the cover says unity," Wolfson said in an interview Thursday morning. Wolfson also regards the image as symbolic. Removing one shoe would "diminish the overall effect," he said. "I just felt that was symbolic of the city's response." 

We emailed with Associate Art Director Liz Noftle, who explained how the cover came together.

We wanted to do something really special that would honor the runners and everything they had to go through in the events of marathon. We had only a few days to pull something together. Monday night we came up with the concept, and Tuesday began to execute it. It was only made possible by the help of everyone on staff. We reached out to anyone and everyone to collect shoes in less than 48 hours. It was a tremendous effort by everyone—people going out of their way to bring in shoes, interns collecting them, organizing couriers to bring them here. Then we drove them all down to New York on Thursday, where Mitchell Feinberg photographed them, and we closed the magazine while the city was in lockdown on Friday. 

Of the shoes, she added that photo editor Scott Lacey had the concept of "putting the colored ones in the middle, which I think really makes it. The heart almost feels like it's beating." The back cover is made up of the soles of the shoes.

To collect the shoes the staff took to social media and reached out to everybody they knew, Wolfson explained. Once the shoes arrived at the magazine's office, the shoes were photographed individually for a feature inside the magazine called "The Shoes We Wore," which features 15 stories from owners of said pairs. The rest will be put online.

"Our lobby is still filled with shoes," Wolfson told us.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.