The dream is dead

Bluewashing in Downtown Crossing

Workers this morning were busy bluewashing over the old murals showing the fabled One Franklin project that was supposed to rise like a phoenix from the giant hole its developers dug where Filene's used to be.

Note the red-and-white placard above the painter. It's a warning to firefighters of possible dangers inside the building.

The people who built the Ritz down Washington Street recently signed a deal with the hole's main owner to try to actually build something there.



Free tagging: 


Good riddance to 'One Franklin'

Not necessarily to the project, but definitely to that name. This tower, in whatever form, should proudly wear the name "Filene's" and have an address on Summer Street, which was the department store's front door.

Kinda too bad

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I think that whomever took those photos had a real gift for making ordinary people look their best.
I don't know if they were actual random DTX'ers, or models, but they were a great variety of real looking people portrayed in a way such that they all looked happy and attractive.

oh and

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That's the entrance to the Red and Orange lines off to the right I think. Wouldn't the fire fighters need to protect that at least?


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Well, chances are that's where the fire would start. Probably from trash thrown on to the Orange Line tracks.

Red X

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A small point, and I don't want to start a debate, but I am curious: I thought the red sign was meant only as a warning to firefighters--that things might not be as they seem, not necessarily as a keep-out sign. Am I wrong?

This project was a political cluster-you-know-what from the beginning. Menino was scared to go against the developers who were waving money in his face so he pretty quickly put the kibosh on landmarking the Filene's building. Yet, the building was historic, and clearly significant, so there was this stop-gap approach of preserving the oldest portions of the overall structure.

I'm not trying to argue that the development wouldn't have been stalled and abandoned if the building were landmarked, nor am I trying to argue against new construction. I will argue, however that if entire building had been landmarked and protected from demolition, at least Boston wouldn't be left with a giant hole in the middle of its downtown.

Slightly different in its use

Slightly different in its use in Boston, same general idea, but the posting of buildings by BFD is more geared towards firefighting operations, whereas the FEMA document is geared towards USAR following a disaster. If a building in Boston is posted with an X, short of a known person inside, firefighters should not be in there. All of the FEMA criteria would apply, so a structurally unsound building would be posted with an X, but then other concerns can also factor in, such as buildings with holes in the floors.

If theres a fire in one of these buildings, its automatically a defensive operation, protecting the exposure buildings from the spread of fire.

Thanks, folks

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I'm now more educated than I was before. Post updated.


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I thought that sign was to signal those on the surface that there are divers below. And here all this time I've been very cautious and on the lookout for SCUBA divers when going through Downtown Crossing station.


It does remind me of a SCUB flag. I was wondering if anyone else had that thought in mind.

Give it a few years

With anticipated sea level rise, we'll all be snorkelling through the tunnels to get to work.

Slashes vs. Xs

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Steve MacDonald at BFD sent me a copy of their "Posted Buildings" policy. Yes, a single slash allows for firefighters to go inside, but only with "extreme caution," while an X basically means stay out, unless "a life hazard exists."


The following are only partial lists of hazards that may be encountered when trying to determine the degree of hazard present.

46.7 Hazards to be considered when posting a building with a slash:

  • Unstable front or rear porches, stairs or fire escapes.
  • Unusually heavy fire loading for the occupancy involved.
  • Unusually heavy water load on roof due to poor drainage.
  • Small holes in floors due to previous fires or rotted due to neglect and lack of maintenance.
  • Holes in roof, open or broken skylights.
  • Lack of compartmentalization due to previous fire damage, neglect or vandalism.
  • Sharp and jagged surfaces including broken glass, exposed nails and torn metal.
  • Missing stairway railings.
  • Missing stairway treads.
  • Buildings with several feet of water in the basement.
  • Small amounts of hazardous materials and substances.
  • Excessive amounts of unprotected asbestos insulation.
  • Weakened and/or loose parapets and cornices.
  • Breached or missing fire walls.
  • Heavy equipment on roofs including machinery and billboards.

46.8 Hazards to be considered when posting a building with an "X":

  • All buildings in imminent danger of collapse.
  • Large holes in floors due to previous fires or rotted due to severe neglect and exposure to weather.
  • Sagging floors, roofs and/or roof beams.
  • Missing girders and/or floor beams.
  • Missing and/or eccentrically loaded columns.
  • Missing or bulging exterior walls or interior bearing walls.
  • Structurally significant cracks in masonry walls.
  • Excessively heavy fire loading resulting in compromised structural integrity.
  • Large quantities of illegal/unidentified or improperly identified hazardous materials or substances.
  • Open unprotected elevator shafts.


Placards shall be applied on the front of the building at or above the second floor level, where practical, and between openings such that they are visible from the street. Placards may be applied to the sides or rear of a building if their placement is deemed necessary to provide the desired level of safety. Placards shall also be applied in a conspicuous place near every entrance and on penthouses. Placards shall not be applied above doors, windows, or other openings where they may be obscured by smoke or fire. Only placards issued by the department shall be utilized. The placards are approximately 2 feet square with a white boarder and stripes painted on a red background and coated with a reflective material designed to be readily visible from the street.

However, he adds:

The placards are just a visual reminder to firefighters. The more important information is on the computer system. It details what the hazard is. So if we get dispatched to 123 Main St., our dispatch would come on the air and state " 123 Main St. is a posted building with an X. Exterior operations only. It is missing floor 3 and has open elevator shafts"
All posted buildings have to be inspected twice a year by the BFD. At any given time there are about 150 buildings in this category in the city.

A posted building could be a new building under construction that does not have stairs installed yet. Remember, this is a system for firefighters to give us a heads up on possible problems we may face.

It is always easier to explain this way... what information would we like to know showing up at 3am to a smoke filled 5 story building with zero visibility.

Too late now

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But while that hole sat there stupid for so long, wouldn't it have been kind of a cool spot for an archaelogical dig? That part of Shawmut, and then Boston, has been inhabited for thousands of years. Gotta wonder what they would have found,

Not much

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You can't dig too far down there before hitting bedrock and/or water. Any cool artifacts would have been excavated just to build the hole in the first place.

Viva the Hole!

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Viva the Hole!