Jamaica Plain, May 2014

southwest cooridor

southwest corridor  (sonya kovacic)

southwest corridor (sonya kovacic)

"The thing I remember about the Southwest Corridor was coming up to the old railroad underpasses and seeing all of the 'People Before Highways' graffiti ... Along Columbus Avenue I'd look at all of the buildings that had been torn down and think that it looked like a bomb had hit. It made you sick. Who'd take down a community like that?

— Ellen Anderson, government aide in Boston in the 1960s, on the demolition of a large section of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain to make room for I-95. The plan—initiated in 1948 —was to built the twelve-lane interstate directly through the neighborhoods.

The communities of Roxbury and Jamaica Plain immediately started a grassroots fight against the highway's construction, using slogans like "People Before Highways." After years of protests, their determination paid off, and the highway was rerouted outside of the city. In an effort to reclaim the land for the community, a  4.7-mile-long linear park was created, with playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts, and trails for walking, jogging, and biking.

As part of the park-building process, the community ran several public art initiatives. One of which—"Boston Contemporary Writers"—ran a contest for 18 pieces of poetry and prose to be permanently inscribed in granite along the park's span. The council selected 18 writers from anonymous submissions, which varied from community members to famous writers and poets. You can view the pieces on display outside of T stations along the Orange Line, or read a sampling from an article from 1991.