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Both sides of the Charles looked a little different when the Longfellow was built

Longfellow Bridge in 1908

The Cambridge Historical Commission shows us what the new Longfellow Bridge looked like in 1908 - a couple years after it opened - as the Cambridge Bridge. Look at those gasometers in Kendall Square on the Cambridge side.

The Boston Public Library has some Longfellow Bridge photos from back in the day as well:

Hey, where'd Storrow Drive go? Oh, yeah, when Francis Getty painted this scene in 1931 or so, it didn't exist.

Longfellow Bridge in 1931

This 1925 Fairchild Aerial Surveys photo from above Kendall Square shows Boston in the depths of a slow, decades-long decline, when downtown had just a single skyscraper:

Longfellow Bridge in 1925

A closer look at the Cambridge side of the bridge in 1932:

Longfellow Bridge in 1932

These days, directors tend to use the Zakim or even the Tobin as shots to establish the movie or show you're about to see was filmed in Boston, but once, the Longfellow was THE bridge to shout "Boston" - as in the opening of Spenser for Hire:

BPL images used under this Creative Common license.

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Comments

That scene from the Spenser video where they just stuck a sticker on the otherwise normal helicopter was hilarious.

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He always got a parking space exactly in front of where he wanted to be, too.

LOL even then!

Although I loved the scene where someone was trying to kill him with a bomb in his car, but it went off while he was eating in Cafe Toscano because someone parked by Braille.

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That's what I see in the first photo.

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Maybe they did at high tide.

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they were used as a landing of some kind?

based on how far inland on the Boston those are now, they must have added 250-330 feet of landfill since.

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There was a lot of construction going on at the same time when the Longfellow Bridge was built, including construction of the original Charles River Dam (by today's Museum of Science) and construction of the first Esplanade. Without looking up the exact dates when each one opened, I assume that those stairs were designed and built, knowing that the Esplanade would be created very soon. It was all part of the same master plan.

Remember, too, that the Charles River was tidal, as far upstream as Watertown Square, before the first Charles River Dam was built. With a twice-daily height variation of 10+ feet, it wasn't practical to build park land along the river's banks until after the dam was operational.

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The first image shows a trolley crossing the bridge next to subway tracks that just end - the Red Line didn't come along until 1912 (but the bridge was ready for it).

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Those stairs were for Aquaman.

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If you're ever nostalgic for the elevated orange line you can watch the intro to St Elsewhere instead of Spencer.

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A show we'll never see on DVD or streaming... I've been begging and begging for years.

I even went as far as to buy it from one of those questionable dvd places (where its just recordings of the syndicated versions that aired at one point), but the dude cancelled the order said they were 'out of stock'. Probably didn't want to copy all 48 discs (It was on for 8 years!)

Someday. This was a overlooked, yet very well written show.. I would watch it all, again!

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Longfellow was part of Team Vikings Discovered America with this guy.

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I tried to find stuff online about Leif Erickson actually going up the charles online. Other than references to the guy at MIT (who suggested the bridges theme), not much.

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How do they get the salt and pepper in the shakers?

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I was horrified when I learned that those plastic salt and pepper shakers are disposable because they can't be refilled.

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Banacek!

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who remembers Banacek?

(Longfellow Bridge at 0:20)

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But a montage of Boston sights, including, of course, the Gloucester fisherman.

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Adam - I've been collecting postcards of the bridge for the last 5 years (since I first stepped on it in July 2012 with the possibility of being able to work on it.) Along with other historic projects on which I've worked, I collect the cards to give to co-workers at the end of a project as a little memento. I had close to 100 cards of the bridge in my collection.

For all the complaints, this was a challenging project that I am honored to have had any part of. I've commented on it here over the years, but I'll say a bit more now that it's over and I no longer work for one of the three contracting firms involved. For all intents, I documented every piece of granite that you see above the bridge deck and managed the cleaning, repair, and re-installation of them. All of the granite parapets, each of the 515 stones of each salt and pepper shaker, the Boston abutment walls - I could go on... I had the honor and pleasure of working with some true artisans and craftsmen and women.

I would give postcards to people when they left the project and remind them: people cared so much about this bridge that they would send a postcard saying that they had seen it, that it was the bridge they crossed every day, etc. It was the image of Boston they wanted to share. I am very proud to have had any part in the restoration of this Boston (and Cambridge) landmark.

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I think it looks awesome. Hat tip to everyone that worked on this project. Now we'll have this beautiful bridge for at least another 100 years!

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I have a postcard of the bridge showing wagons on it in 1908, and applaud the beautiful work you did to make the stone look as good as new. Vandals have sprayed it with graffiti. The state does a poor job cleaning it off. Same thing happened on BU Bridge after that bridge was rehabilitated. Go an see all the graffiti on that bridge now. How much graffiti will be allowed to collect on this historic bridge like moss on wet stone? After such a large investment in money and time, the state should clean off the graffiti as quickly as it goes up.

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I love the color distortion in the first photo -- it makes it look like there are two strips of grass running across the river, not roadway.

How cool would that be, though?

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There was an awful movie back in 1991 called Once Around. At one point an insufferable Richard Dreyfuss jumps out of his limo in the middle of the Longfellow Bridge traffic and declares to Holly Hunter "Tomorrow morning I'm calling my secretary and telling her to move my office to Boston. When she asks me why I'll tell her...I'm in love."

(hey, you don't forget cheese like that).

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