BOSTON – The finish line of the Boston Marathon is a landmark here, a blue and yellow slash across Boylston Street that for more than a century has represented pride and achievement for those who cross it in one of the great races of the running world.

Since bombs went off here two years ago, all of Boston has claimed the line as a symbol of how this city came together in the smoky, sulfurous aftermath to tend to the dead and the maimed; it came to represent the city’s resilience.

But now, since a jury on Friday sentenced the convicted bomber to death, the finish line suddenly seems to be a place of ambivalence. Fresh flowers are accumulating. A sense of sorrow lingers. Sightseers feel a little self-conscious. Residents train their gaze on the line, and the conversations turn to death — and disappointment.

“I was shocked,” said Scott Larson, 47, who works near the finish line. “The death penalty — for Boston.”

To many, the death sentence almost feels like a blot on the city’s collective consciousness. To the amazement of people elsewhere, Bostonians overwhelmingly opposed condemning the bomber, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, to death. The most recent poll, conducted last month for the Boston Globe, found that just 15 percent of city residents wanted him executed. Statewide, 19 percent did.

By contrast, 60 percent of Americans wanted Tsarnaev to get the death penalty, according to a CBS News poll.

A fate worse than death

No one here felt sympathy for him. Rather, many thought life in prison would be a fate worse than death, especially for someone as young as Tsarnaev, who is 21. Others feared that putting him to death would make him a martyr. Still others reflected the region’s historical aversion to the death penalty.

Neil Maher, who spent his teenage years in Boston and returned this weekend for his class reunion at Boston College High School, said the verdict had disappointed him.

“They ought to demonstrate a little humanity,” said Maher, 66, who lives in Frederick, Md. “Killing a teenager’s not going to do anything. I think it’s just a kind of visceral revenge. I think that in three years, the people of Boston and the people on the jury will feel bad about this decision.”

Like many others, he could not square the death sentence with the sense of Massachusetts exceptionalism that has pervaded the zeitgeist since 1630, when the Puritan John Winthrop said this spot in the New World would be “as a city upon a hill — the eyes of all people are upon us.”

Maher lamented that Massachusetts seemed to be losing a piece of its unique identity.

Struck by the brutality

“The Chinese put a lot of people to death, and we put a lot of people to death, and almost nobody else in the world does,” he said. “It’s kind of a brutal thing. And for this to happen in Massachusetts. …” His voice trailed off.

At the site of the bombing, Jessica Brown, an editor for a technology company, stared at the finish line while a companion from California took a photograph. The sentence had taken her, too, by surprise.

“I really thought they were going to do life in prison,” said Brown, who expressed philosophical doubt about the death penalty. “It raises the question of, should we react to murder with murder?” she asked.

For her, the question hit close to home because she lives in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood, near Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son, Martin, was killed by one of the bombs — but who made an open plea to the government to drop its pursuit of the death penalty and send Tsarnaev to prison instead.

Some of the survivors of the bombings and their relatives felt differently. Many supported the death penalty and expressed relief when word emanated from the courtroom that the jury had chosen it.

Most were solemn, not triumphant. “I feel justice for my family,” said Liz Norden, whose sons, Paul and J.P., lost legs in the blasts.

Most public officials were noncommittal. Mayor Martin Walsh, who did not say which outcome he preferred, said he hoped the verdict would bring closure to survivors. Gov. Charlie Baker, who supports the death penalty, said the only opinion that mattered was that of the jury.

Still, some people outside the courtroom did favor death for Tsarnaev. Peggy Fahey, a lifelong Bostonian, said she believed Tsarnaev had been treated too gently since his arrest and that death was what he irrefutably deserved.

“Oh, please, let him die. Enough is enough,” Fahey said, her blue eyes blazing. “Why send him to a fancy prison out there in Colorado and let him be coddled again and let him be interviewed by Diane Sawyer — you know what I mean? Just be done with it.”