Institutions, November 2014


longfellow bridge (sonya kovacic)

longfellow bridge (sonya kovacic)

Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
-Opening stanza of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride."

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was a renowned poet and professor. He was born in Portland, Maine when Maine was still part of Massachusetts. Although he had a prolific career, he experienced a great deal of personal tragedy. His first wife died from a miscarriage while in Europe, and his second wife died when her dress caught on fire when she was sealing a letter with wax.

Longfellow's grandfather on his mother's side, Peleg Wadsworth, was a notable general during the Revolutionary War. At one point he was even taken prisoner by the British and escaped. It was said that Longfellow wrote his now famous "Paul Revere's Ride" as a call for courage, when the country was heading towards civil war.

The Longfellow Bridge connects Cambridge to Boston across the Charles River, and sees 28,000 motor vehicles, 90,000 transit users, and a large amount of pedestrians and bicyclists each day. It is made of steel and granite and is located on the site of the former 1793 West Boston Bridge. At the time of its completion, in 1908, the bridge was named the Cambridge Bridge. It was renamed the Longfellow Bridge in 1927, in part because of Longfellow's poem about the West Boston Bridge titled, "The Bridge."

In the summer of 2013, Mass DOT began its 3 and a half year, $255 million, Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitataion Project to "address the bridge's current structural deficiencies, upgrade its structural capacity, and bring the bridge up to modern code. " Mass DOT created an animation to demonstrate what the rehabilitation project will look like.