Why we can't have nice things, Allston edition

Broken marker. Photo by Heather Vandenengel.Broken marker. Photo by Heather Vandenengel.

The Food Monkey broke the news tonight: Somebody managed to shear in two the historic 1767 mile marker on Harvard Avenue that is that street's sole remaining link to its colonial past:

I think it's time to move ...

UPDATE: Rock now surrounded by barriers.



Free tagging: 


    My bad.

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    Thought this was going to be another whiner's story about parking space savers.

    Boston fails to protect people and stuff from cars

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    That's why European cities have posts lining the curb -- so cars can't crash into people and stuff on the sidewalk.

    Why did nobody at the BTD think about how to protect this historic artifact that is just inches from heavy traffic?

    Yeah, but...

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    But then how am I supposed to drive my car up onto the curb/sidewalk to park while I go in for scratch tickets?


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    Do what the Europeans do: double park in front of the lottery dealer. Hazard lights are optional.

    Agreed. NOW they put up

    Agreed. NOW they put up barriers? I walked by this for years and the only reason I knew it was a historic marker was word of mouth. No plaque or marker or anything. I could definitely seek how someone might think it was just an inconvenient hunk of rock.

    Yeah, since ...

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    There's usually a car parked in front, where the inscription about the distance to Boston is.


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    There's one on Huntington near the Mission Park T stop, going towards South Huntington. It's embedded in a wall


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    I know of two mile markers in Dorchester, both on Adams Street

    1. In Lower Mills on the sidewalk just outside of the Walter Baker Building (the one with the columns, now the artist housing)

    2. Embedded in the wall at the bowl (small baseball field) at Dorchester Park. The marker is to the right of the pedestrian entrance at the left side of the bowl. The wall was built around it.

    For those of you who didn't know, Washington did a victory lap thru dorchester into Milton (over the bridge that goes over the neponset river, the original bridge is still there underneath the new one) and Lincoln spoke in a house across from the old Lower Mills library which was a meeting house in his day and now is a residence.

    also, the great great great great grandfather of ben bradlee of washington post fame came to this country & made his fortune running a cider press on the banks of the neponset river in lower mills dorchester....I only know this cuz I read his autobiography.

    Pretty cool.

    that's my history lesson for the day

    In Boston, on-street parking

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    In Boston, on-street parking is the only thing more valued than historic landmarks. In Cambridge, Somerville or Brookline; a 244 year old mile marker would have a curb bump-out protecting it. Shame on motorists for being so selfish.

    Possibly not car-related?

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    I don't see any plastic bits laying around, which you would expect if someone's bumper banged this rock hard enough to break it. Perhaps, after a few hundred years, nature finally took its course and the rock sheared on a natural fault?

    Or am I being too optimitic about my fellow Bostonians this morning?

    Some delivery trucks have

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    Some delivery trucks have metal bars and plates low on the rear. One can imagine a driver backing this into the mile marker.

    Natural fault

    The break is so clean, it does look like it sheared on a natural fault, as you say. It's also awfully close to the ground - if it was broken just from impact, wouldn't it have to have been hit pretty hard by a very low-slung vehicle?

    The marker is only a few doors down from Orchard, so I wonder whether it was being used somehow as a skateboard launch. (I also notice that it, like many other surfaces in the neighborhood lately, has been tagged by DAEO. Talk about "why we can't have nice things"...)


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    Actually, you could hit it pretty high so long as the natural cross section (shear force) is perpendicular and even easier if the crack had already started.


    Right, that's pretty much what I meant. If there was already a natural fault across the stone at that point, it might not take much to make it break there; otherwise, it seems like it would take a pretty major impact. (I still think it's at least as likely that it was broken by some clown on a skateboard as by a motor vehicle.)

    I'm a huge fan of history

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    But do you know why that's one of the last milestones left on the road? Because it's stupid to think they can coexist with modern life. That's not a cart path any more and the rest of the world around that rock is stronger and more resilient than any rock. You can't just leave it out on the street and hope for the best. It's more amazing it's survived this long than it is that someone broke it.

    We chose not to protect it and this is the result. If it wasn't today, it would have been a moving truck on September 1st, some moron in an H3 in the winter, or someone using it as a skateboard trick stand.

    Uhub has been hijacked by the

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    Uhub has been hijacked by the self-appointed, self-entitled, self-centered critical Masshole movement. What a bunch of hypocrites! How do they think their bike parts are delivered to a hipster store near them? BY DELIVERY TRUCK! Did their parents DRIVE them to soccer practice? Did the they ride a SCHOOL BUS to school? Do they ever take an MBTA BUS to get somewhere? Do their grandparents ever have to use a CAR? How do you think it got to the grocery store? THINK ABOUT IT!

    Shorter version: Get offa my lawn, you kids!

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    Albert Brooks once did a stand-up bit about a talk-show host who gets some caller who gets more and more wound up about save-the-tree people until finally he sputters: "What are you gonna build your house out of? MEAT?!?"


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    Well now....the tree thing is neat. The meathouse...is really gross. If you pay people like this to get up there and talk with one of those little microphones strapped to their face, you'll only encourage them. Don't do it!

    The thread is fine. It's you that has issues.

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    I must have missed the posts in this thread where anyone advocated banning trucks, buses, and cars from the city.

    What I did see were some reasonable suggestions to design city streets so vehicles can't crash into people or stuff on the sidewalk, either by accident or on purpose.

    mr butch...

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    never would have let this happen. time for a statue of the patron saint of allson.

    6 Miles?

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    Very sad news about this marker. I always enjoyed walking by it. Do you think the city will try to fix it or will they just cart it away and forget about it?

    One thing I never understood about that marker was the fact that it said 6 Miles on it. I feel like it's a lot less than 6 miles from that point to get to downtown Boston. However, I'm aware that the configuration of the land was way different in 1767. Can anyone whip out any links to some Ye Olde Internette Mappse so we can see what they are measuring 6 miles to? That would be cool.

    - Chris

    Why it's 6 miles

    In 1767 there was no Mill Dam (Beacon Street west of the Common). That was all water. To get from downtown Boston to Allston, you'd go down (what's now) Washington Street to Dudley Square, then west through (what are now) Eliot Square, Roxbury Crossing, and Brigham Circle to Brookline Village, then north on Harvard Street through (what is now) Coolidge Corner.

    This was also the way to Cambridge, as North Harvard Street led to the only bridge over the Charles River, connecting to what's now JFK Street.

    To replicate this route today, you could take the Silver Line bus from Downtown Crossing to Dudley Square, and transfer there to the #66.

    Historical Boston Roads

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    Back Bay didn't exist (it was actually a bay), so none of the roads existed that make it shorter than 6 miles back then. The only way into Boston was down Boston Neck (now Tremont St) and out onto the peninsula that was the city of Boston. Here's a map from around 1800 (click for larger):


    And here's a route approximating that same roadway that goes from Allston to Brookline to Roxbury (right by the Roxbury Fort which is now Highland Park) and then up Tremont into Boston and ends at the Old State House. It's about 6.2 miles, give or take.

    Not quite

    The old Boston Neck is now Washington Street. Your route would have drowned the 1767 traveller, as today's Columbus Avenue was also under water back then. The filling of the South End came later, and preceded the filling of Back Bay.

    Here's my approximation of what I think the route was.

    From the Boston Globe

    From the Boston Globe magazine:

    The 6-mile stone juts out of the sidewalk in the middle of busy Allston-Brighton, on Harvard Avenue, in front of a True Value hardware store. Its face is about 2 feet from the fenders of parked cars. "I think people notice it sometimes, but they don't know what it's for," says Jason Porter, who until recently worked at the True Value when he wasn't spinning CDs for Allston-Brighton's "free radio" station. "You know what I see it mostly used for? Kids skateboard on it. It's kind of slanted, it's got a good slope to launch off of."

    You ask a question . . .

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    Thanks peeps! This is super fascinating and interesting. I have seen old maps before, but every time I see one again and am reminded of the extent to which the land has changed over time, it kind of blows my mind all over again. Duuuuuuuuuude ma mind is bloooooown