New Charles River Basin Master Plan, 2002 Executive Summary

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New Charles River Basin Master Plan, 2002 Executive Summary Powered By Docstoc
					M E T R 0 P 0 L I TA N                                                     DISTRICT                                        C 0 M M I S S I 0 N

CHARLE                                       S             RIVER                                      RESERVATION


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The New Charles River Basin will transform the “lost half mile” of the river and provide continuous waterfront esplanades, green parks, and a variety of recreational and interpre
tive opportunities at the center of the Metropolitan Park System. From the railroad bridges that cross the river near North Station, views of the Nashua Meadows open out to the
beacons and the Green Line viaduct upstream. Beyond the viaduct are the towers of Charles River Park and the Museum of Science.

THE VISION                                   dams, pumping stations, locks, and            and water taxi service, and a central        history of transportation in Boston,
                                             viaducts  —will be set off and com            cove for transient docking. Small            and the creative forces of science and
    The New Charles River Basin will         plemented by the powerful sweeps of           boats will ply sheltered waterways,          art. Designers, artists, and artisans
complete the Metropolitan Park               parkland and water.                           bordered with native wetland plants          will develop these themes, enriching
System’s famed water park, reshaping            Three miles of tree-shaded bike-           and wildlife.                                the possibilities for exploration,
the river and its banks in the lost half     ways will be built, together with                 Central themes of these new              learning, and celebration. Guided by
mile between the existing Charles            almost four miles of pathways within          public spaces will be the industrial         this vision, the New Charles River
River Esplanades and Boston’s                the parklands and at the water’s edge,        and    shipping  history of East             Basin will become a gathering place
HarborPark. It will change the image         across and under viaduct, rail and            Cambridge and Charlestown, the               for its neighbors, for school children,
of the river and the city. The mouth of      bridge barriers. New waLkways will            social and cultural heritage of the          for downtown business people, for
the Charles, now obscured by dams,           lead people across the river in several       North End and the West End, the              visitors —  for the whole metropolitan
bridges, and derelict industry, will be      locations. Gateways will tie the New          ecology of the Charles River, the            community.

rediscovered and celebrated. Over the        Basin to Charlestown, the North End,
next ten to fifteen years, these             downtown Boston, the new Boston
presently under-used and disjointed          Garden, and nearby office develop
edges of Boston and Cambridge will           ment, and from the West End, East
be knit into a lively urban district,        Cambridge and North Point. These
centered on a new recreational               communities will be linked as never
resource comparable in its impact to         before. People will be able to stroll
the creation of the Emerald Necklace         through fascinating parklands, ani
in the late 19th century and the             mated by history, art, and science,
Boston waterfront renewal in the mid         from East Cambridge to the North
20th century.                                End or from the West End to
    Over forty acres of parklands            Charlestown.
will offer broad green meadows,                  The river banks will be reshaped
colorful plantings, and stately trees,       to strengthen the focus on the watei
as well as plazas, walkways, and bike        relate the two edges more strongly
paths on lands which are now mostly          and create a powerful procession of
in public ownership. The Boston and          river spaces leading Out to the sea.         The New Basin extends from the old Charles River Dam (lower right) to the new dam,
Cambridge Esplanades will be con             The banks will be sloped down to the         just beyond the highway bridge. Downtown Boston is at the upper right. The esplanades
nected along the river to HarborPark         water’s edge so that the river is visible    of the MDC’s Charles River Reservation will be connected to Bostons HarborPark, and
                                                                                          gateways to the new public spaces will reinforce the ties between the river and
and the Freedom Trail. The large-            from everywhere in the New Basin.            surrounding neighborhoods. Funding for the first phase of this long-term master plan
scale engineering works     —bridges,        There will be landings for tour boats        will be provided by the Massachusetts Highway Department.


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A joint commission of the Metropolitan Park Commission and the State Board of Health produced a remarkable map in 1894 showing the deplorable state of the Charles River
Basin. Along the waterfront were two prisons, three coal-burning powerplants, numerous shabby commercial ventures (including slaughterhouses in Brighton and East Cambridge),
a bankrupt residential development in Cambridge (today the site of MIT), and “temporary” railroad trestles below Craigie’s Bridge. The only park on the river was the Charlesbank,
near Boston’s West End (MDC Archives).

                                                                                                                            THE CHARLES RIVER AND                                      would become the central reservation
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                                                                                                                            THE METROPOLITAN PARK                                      of the metropolitan district and the
                                                                                                                            SYSTEM                                                     most celebrated “water park” in the
                                                                                                                                                                                       entire country. The Cambridge and
                                                                                                                                  In 1893 the Boston Metropolitan                      Metropolitan     Park    Commissions
                                                                                                                            Park Commission published its first                        made their first takings along the
                                                                                                                            report, written by Sylvester Baxter;                       river in 1894-95.
                                                                                                                            the    commission’s                 secretary,     and         Six years later James Storrow led
                                                                                                                            Charles Eliot, its landscape architect.                    a new campaign for a           dam at
                                                                                                                            They proposed a park system that                           Craigie’s Bridge, and the dam, along
                                                                                                                            would preserve the “rock hills, the                        with a 100-foot embankment on the
                                                                                                                            stream banks, and the bay and the sea                      Boston side, was finally completed in
                                                                                                                            shores” of greater Boston. Once in                         1910. A few lamented the loss of the
                                                                                                                            the public domain these natural                            last “once primitive and beautiful salt
                                                                                                                            features of the region vould establish                    meadows,” but the stabilized river
                                                                                                                            the framework for urban develop                            drew to its banks new campuses for
                                                                                                                            ment,       not      the       haphazard           and    Harvard,        MIT,     and     Boston
                                                                                                                            unplanned assemblage of street, lots,                     University. The Storrow Memorial
                                                                                                                            railroads, and streetcar lines.                           Embankment      —    now known as the
                                                                                                                                  The    first    reservations            to    be    Esplanade   —   was designed by Arthur
                                                                                                                            acquired     —    Beaver Brook, the Blue                   Shurcliff and dedicated in 1936,
                                                                                                                           Hills, the Middlesex Fells                 —      repre    ninety years after a water park was
                                                                                                                            sented “unique and characteristic”                        first proposed on the Charles.
The metropolitan park plan of 1893 was bounded by the rock hills that surround Boston                                      New England scenery. The rivers and                             The    public     spaces   of       the
about ten miles from the State House. Forest reservations      the Middlesex Fells and the
                                                                                                                            bays, with their shores reclaimed,                        New Basin to be built in the next
Blue Hills    were laid out along this ring of hills. The radial spokes of the park system

                                                                                                                            offered “permanently open spaces                          decade will continue the 100-year
were the three rivers   the Mystic, the Charles, and the Neponset. Comprising the third

element of the plan were the beaches of the hay and sea shores; tree-lined parkways                                        provided by nature without cost.”                          improvement of the river as the
linked the hills, the rivers, and the shores. By 1899, over nine thousand acres of                                                In spite of the foul condition of                    “Central Park” of the Metropolitan
reservations and parkways had been acquired (MDC Archives).                                                                the Basin, Eliot was certain that it                       Park System.

                                                                                                                          Hanscomb Associates, Inc.                                  William Lamb, Todd Lee, Justine Liff,
    JaneSwift, Governor                                                     Michael           Project Director               Cost Estimating                                         Jim Mansfield, Lisa Morwinkle, Robert
    Bob Durand, Secretary, EOEA                                             E. Fred Yalouris, Director of                 LeMessurier Consultants                                    O’Brien, Antonia Pollak, Kenneth Stone,
    Matthew J. Amorello, Chairman,                                             Architecture and Urban Design                 Structural Engineering                                  Daniel Wilsen, Jill Ochs Zick
       Massachusetts Turnpike Authority                                                                                   R. G. Vanderweil Engineers, Inc.
    James Fl. Scanlan, Secretary, EOTC_                                                                                                                                              City of Cambridge Appointees
                                                                                                                             Mechanical Engineering
                                                                            3         . Brewer                            Childs Engineering Corporation, Inc.                       Roger Boothe, Martha Doyle, Elizabeth
                                                                            Charlotte C. Fleetwood                                                                                   Epstein, Ruby Mintz, Anthony Platt,
                                                                                                                             Marine Engineering
    David B. Balfour, Jr., Commissionerf                                    KarstR. Hoogeboom                                                                                        Sam Reece, Hugh Russell, Cara
    Robert H. Carr, Jr., Associate                                                                                                                                                   Seiderman, Alex Strysky, Walter Willett
                                                                            Carr, Lynch, Hack a                                                                                      We invite your comments.
    Avril T. Elkort, Associate                                                                                            Secretary of E               Affairs
                                                                              Planning, Urban Design, and
                                                                                                                                                                                     Contact the Metropolitan District
       Commissioner                                                                                                       Appointees
                                                                              Landscape Architecture                                                                                 Commission Planning Office
    Everette T. Sheppard, Sr., Associate                                                                                  Joel Bard, Lee Breckenridge, Deirdre
       Commissioner                                                         Oehrne, van Sweden & Associates                                                                          20 Somerset Street
                                                                                                                          Buckley, David Ellis, Sonia Hamel,                         Boston, MA 02108
    Marilyn Rollins, Associate                                                Planting Design                             Richard Heath, Janet McCabe, Judith
       Commissioner                                                         Howard / Stein-Hudson & Associates                                                                       (617) 727-9693, ext. 267
                                                                                                                          McDonough, Patrick T. McMahon,
    Julia O’Brien, Director of Planning                                       Transportation Planning                     Ed O’Brien, Mark Primack, Jan Reitsma,
    Karl Haglund, Project Manager                                           Sherry Kafka Wagner                           Betsy Shure Gross, Patrice Todisco,
                                                                              Programming & Interpretation                Robert Zimmerman
    FedeHighway Administration                                              KrentlPaffett Associates, Inc.
    Stanley Gee, Division Administrator                                       Interpretive Planning                       City of Boston Appointees
                                                                            Qazilbash & Associates                        Peter Davidoff, Lorraine M. Downey,
                                                                              Geotechnical & Civil Engineering            Judy Evers, Joseph Hinkle, Nancy Keys,

March 1995. Revised July 1999, June 2002