During my recent trip back east, mom and I decided to pop in to Boston for a carefree day. We planned only on lunch in the North End, an Italian neighborhood with dozens of wonderful cafes; photos from that portion of the day will come in a subsequent post. She agreed to come on my photowalk around sights that have changed since I left the city just over a decade ago, as long as we fit in shoe shopping at Downtown Crossing.
The most dramatic visual change for me was in seeing and walking through a large portion of the the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.
From the time I learned to drive, until my countless hellish hours commuting along the elevated SE Expressway, called the Central Artery, I anticipated the day when the Big Dig (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Dig), Boston’s monster public works project, would be completed.
While I was in high school, The Boston Globe published a large sized color pull-out poster of an architectural sketch of the plans for a finished Greenway park. It showed a rebirthed city landscape that would have cleaner air, more open space for recreation, and new neighborhood developments to foster a more cosmopolitan lifestyle. It was nothing short of mind-blowing to imagine that the traffic gridlocked highway through Boston would ever be replaced with tunnels under the city, and a park above ground.
In 2008, seven years after I moved out of Boston, with the Ted Williams tunnel finally constructed and in use, the striking Lenny Zakin bridge in place, 15 acres of land above ground was reconfigured into resplendent open space. The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway was realized. It took the form of a linear park that snakes through the harbor front, the North End, the Financial District and Chinatown. What one finds now is green grass, extensive promenades, fountains, sculptures, flowering gardens, lots of trees and beautiful open space. Karma at play.
We paid for it financially: it cost MA taxpayers $22 billion; spiritually: we endured years of stressful halting traffic and street re-directions through the grind of seemingly endless construction; and physically: in the Ted Williams Tunnel a women was killed and her driver was seriously injured when a concrete ceiling panel and debris, weighing 26 tons and measuring 20 by 40 feet, fell on their car traveling on the two-lane ramp connecting northbound I-93 to eastbound I-90 in South Boston. The investigation and repair of the collapse caused a section of the Big Dig project to be closed for almost a full year. It caused chronic traffic backups and continued traffic and re-routed drivers for years.
How fortunate are the residents, daily workers and visitors to Boston who now may wander, bike, stroll or pass time relaxing on the grounds. The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy is now maintaining the parks. They seemed to be highly utilized by people of all ages and kept in pristine condition.