They paved paradise and put up a Storrow ramp

Old Charlesgate

Nowadays, Charlesgate mostly brings to mind the crumbling ramp system connecting Storrow Drive and the roads of the Fenway - its underside a transient homeless camp next to a mucky "pond."

But once it was a bucolic connection between the Muddy and the Charles rivers, part of Olmsted's creative plan for both creating a key part of the Emerald Necklace and flushing out the Muddy.

Compare the above photo, from the Library of Congress's collection, and taken sometime between 1890 and 1901, to this Google Street View. The only thing the two have in common is the still standing residential building.

Some people want to tear down the Bowker overpass, built in 1967, and restore Charlesgate to its Olmstedian ideal.



Free tagging: 



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Make Storrow a surface road with frequent lights and stops!

Route Soldiers field through the old CSX yard in Allston into the pike system, and make the last "direct" part of it exit at new ramps around the BU Bridge.

Time to reclaim the waterfront!

No road should have

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No road should have intentional frequent stops.

If they want to redesign Storrow with signalized crosswalks, that's fine. But the lights should be timed to a certain speed, even if it's slow. Making everyone stop for no reason is a waste of gas, makes noise, and creates traffic jams that are unpleasant for drivers as well as nearby people.

Bye Bye Bowker

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As someone who drives over the Bowker frequently and would be inconvenienced by its loss, I still think they should trash it. Having something looking like what is in that old photo would be worth it.

Maybe they can make a tunnel to get people from Storrow over to Park Drive and the Fens....I mean we have a great track record with those right?

Check out the Freshgate

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Check out the Freshgate Tunnel proposal that seems to be associated with Harvard in some fashion.

Essentially it would install a tunnel to carry both car and trolley traffic (on separate levels).

The tunnel would begin with ramps connecting to Boylston St. at Charlesgate, but the main body of it runs in a straight line from Charlesgate & Storrow Dr. all the way to Mt. Auburn St. & the Fresh Pond Pkwy., with some final ramps up to Fresh Pond Pkwy. & Huron St.

In the process it would divert all of Storrow Dr. west of Charlesgate, and all of Memorial Dr. west of Western Av., into the tunnel, allowing a lot of riverbank to be reclaimed for recreation purposes. It would run directly under the Charles, Cambridgeport, Harvard Business School, and the Harvard athletic fields.

Since it could carry trolleys, it could permit a trolley connection from Alewife to Hynes via Fresh Pond, Mt. Auburn, HBS, Cambridgeport, & MIT.

It's crazy, but we do have some experience with tunnels around here, so what the hell.

The only connection that

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The only connection that proposal has to Harvard is that the people who put it together think Harvard should want to do it and pay for it.

From their FAQ:

All work on this project was done by volunteers without compensation. A small group developed the ideas, prepared the drawings, text and graphics, and built the website. The group includes people who studied architecture, urban design, planning, public administration, fine arts, film making, and computer programming. Some of us reside around greater Boston, others are further afield: One lives in Brooklyn, New York, beside Frederic Law Olmstead's Prospect Park; another lives in Hamburg, Germany, near the Alster Basin (a forerunner of the Charles River Basin).

Sure, let's ask Congress for the money!

The tunnel is a great idea, but we did such a great job managing the project for the previous tunnel, I'm sure any requests for Federal money for this would go over like a big wet stinky fart.

It'd have to be financed locally or privately, but it is a great idea.

No federal money for this anyway

Storrow is a state road, and it also cannot be constructed to the standards the Feds would demand of it. On the other hand, improvements to I-90 would be for a federal roadway, and would be eligible for money.

People think Federal money is just going to show up because we are in MA and our guys know guys, right? Tip O'Neill is dead and now MA is really 50 years behind the times when it comes to bidding projects and qualifying them for federal funds. Letting any kook claim reasons to skewer a project in late stages is but one of the problems, performance on the Big Dig is another, and the inability to solidly plan projects and get things set before applying is a huge obstacle.

Well, let's call the entire

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Well, let's call the entire thing one big on/off ramp for the Pike (to which it is connected), and gloss over the part where you could drive along it without getting on or off the Pike.


I know we aren't REALLY going to get federal money for this, but if we were to try, i would definitely position the project as a feed for I-90/pike. It also links up to I-93 , but I know it ain't gonna happen.

Who needs roads

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Why don't we rip up all the roads in Boston and let people fend for themselves. If you can't walk, bike, or take the train, you can't live in Boston, never mind take in the sights.

That will really help the economy of the region. Boston is already nearly impossible to get around. Business and population are leaving the state because of the costs in part due to that inconvenience. Let's show the rest of them the door. When there are no more taxpayers left, Boston will resemble a bucolic meadow.

It would be sad if it weren't so laughable.

We need roads, but not this road

If you want to get from Storrow Drive to the Fens, you can use Charlesgate West. If you want to go the other way, you can use Charlesgate East. There is no need for an overpass over Comm. Ave. and Beacon Street. The overpass over the Mass Pike would remain in any scenario.

It's amazing how cities

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It's amazing how cities require cars to survive. London in 1900? A ghost town. Venice in 2011? Almost like the mayan ruins.

And I love the "people are leaving" line even though the census just came out showing the opposite. People try to pull the same BS in California. "Everyone is leaving due to high taxes!". Funny, the census shows the population going up every year.

Don't know your history

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This road should never have been built.

Did you realize that a former Transportation head also thinks it should go? That's because it eats a valuable resource - water front and river access - and contributes nothing the pike can't and should handle.

This is Boston we're talking

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This is Boston we're talking about. If any city can screw things up, it sure is us!

The Bowker is here to stay, Folks.

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Considering the fact that the Bowker overpass/interchange was just completely overhauled at significant cost (with that absolutely ridiculous new configuration of only one westbound lane that has been discussed on UH before), I cannot be hopeful that any major changes will occur there for decades.

Sorry to be the wet blanket - but it has been raining a lot.

That said, having spent some time on the Embarcadero last year, it would be nice to have one of those - oh wait, we already do...we just call it the Greenway (vintage trolleys like those on the Embarcadero - think, a North/South surface rail connection(!) - might be nice however). It's just that we don't get to spend as much time there, because it is perfectly aligned with the prevailing winds for 8 months of the year. Resurrecting the "garden under glass" seems more appealing everyday. Philanthropy, anyone?

It wasn't completely

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It wasn't completely overhauled. It's still dropping concrete every day. All that was done was emergency work to prevent a total catastrophic structural failure. The state bought some time to think at a huge expense without solving the long term problem. Within a decade it will either have to removed, replaced, or undergo a real overhaul.

By "completely overhauled" do

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By "completely overhauled" do you mean "wood was added to catch falling concrete to extend the time of debate needed to decide what to do with the thing"?


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I lived there for a year when it was an Emerson dorm. The ghost stories abounding were quite fun, despite being skeptical.

But even without them there was always so many oddities about the building:
Old, disused elevator shafts. Odd relief carvings and mosaics.
And a half dozen or so reclusive, old ladies who lived in the building from back when it was a hotel or apartments that Emerson did not kick out but allowed (or had to allow) to live there amongst the students.

Of more mundane rumors about that building is, from its hotel days, it was once the end of a tunnel that ran under the block of buildings ostensibly to smuggle liquor during prohibition. Although the tunnel is reportedly sealed if it did exist.

As an Emerson dorm it also was the site of some of the laxest RA's on the planet. Keg parties, band practices, greenhouses, etc. occurred in the building. It was so much fun that other dorms and fraternities around Charlesgate would call the police with noise complaints. Ironic.

State Route

Isn't Storrow a state route? If so, its going to take a lot more than a little complaining to the City to get that ramp torn down, although I would personally love to see it go. With the condition that it is in, it will probably be torn down by nature soon enough. The amount of urine under the bridge is probably eating away at its foundations. Could the case be made that the bridge itself is a violation of the Clean Water Act and should be remediated with federal money? The urine that undoubtedly seeps out of the bridge is certainly entering a waterway of the United States. Sadly, this ramp is just part of the overall crime that is Storrow Drive, which is built on land donated to the City (or perhaps state) on the express condition that it be used as parkland. I suppose when they built it, the Charles was probably a fetted, filthy industrial sewer that our forefathers thought/hoped would be filled-in one day, or used as a place to raft poor people before pushing them out to sea. Sigh.

Storrow was built in the

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Storrow was built in the early 50s, which is long after the Esplanade was originally created. Not sure how bad the Charles was then.