BU, January 2014, Fenway/Kenmore, infrastructure


comm ave (sonya kovacic)

comm ave (sonya kovacic)

Because of Boston's proximity to water, Bostonians historically diverted wastewater into the Charles River and the Boston Harbor. It wasn't until 1877 that Boston began constructing it's first official sewer system. According to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the Boston Main Drainage System (BMDS) "diverted sewage from 18 cities and town to Moon Island in Boston Harbor. There sewage was held for release with the outgoing tide."

Presently, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission serves 70% of the total land area of Boston and uses two types of wastewater collection systems: Separate and combined sewer systems. Separate sewer systems separate sanitary waste and stormwater flow. Combined sewer systems combine sanitary waste and stormwater flow.

According to BWSC, the sewer system is approximately "1,455 linear miles, the sewer system consists of: 622 miles of sanitary, 595 miles of storm drain, 235 miles of combined sewer, and 3 miles of combined sewer overflow. The sewers are made of stone, brick, vitrified clay, concrete, iron, and cast iron. Vitrified clay is the most prevalent type of sewer material in the system because it has been used for some time as the standard material for the smaller diameter piping which is predominant in the system. Brick is the most common material for the larger pipes in the system because it was the principal building material used for large pipe in the late 1800's. Most new sewers are made of concrete, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) plastic or ductile iron." 

Boston wastewater is currently sent to the Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant where it is treated and then sent into the ocean. Deer Island is now recognizable for its egg shaped anaerobic digesters.

If you are interested in how the sewer system works, here's a diagram. 

Read more about stormwater management.

BU, Fenway/Kenmore, January 2014

dr. king

free at last  sculpture in front of bu's marsh chapel   (sonya kovacic)

free at last sculpture in front of bu's marsh chapel (sonya kovacic)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. got his Docterate from Boston University's School of Theology in 1955. According to Boston University, the Dean of BU's Marsh Chapel at the time, Howard Thurman, was King's mentor and spirtual advisor. Thurman was responsible for teaching Gandhi's ideas of nonviolent protest to Dr. King.

The Free at Last sculpture was dedicated in 1975 by  artist Sergio Castillo to commemorate Dr. King. According to the Boston Art Commission, the "sculpture, twenty feet high, consists of a mass of wing-flapping birds cut from cor-ten steel. Close-up, one sees individual birds, each striving to be airborne, but from afar one sees a flock of birds, formed into the shape of a single bird headed for the sky."

Take a look at a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in front of Marsh Chapel. 

Boston University has a collection of Dr. King's personal papers.

Fenway/Kenmore, parks, July 2014

muddy river

muddy river, under the bowker overpass  (sonya kovacic)

muddy river, under the bowker overpass (sonya kovacic)

The Muddy River starts at Jamaica Pond and runs through the Riverway, the Fenway, and the Back Bay Fens, before flowing into the Charles River. Its path forms much of Boston's Emerald Necklace.

In 1639, the river was the site of America's first recorded "UFO" sighting. While on a boating trip, a man named James Everell saw something in the sky. As Governor John Winthrop wrote:

"James Everell, a sober, discreet man, and two others, saw a great light
 in the night at Muddy River. When it stood still, it flamed up, and was about three yards square; when it ran, it was contracted into the figure of a swine: it ran as swift as an arrow towards Charlton [Charlestown], and so up and down about two or three hours."

(James Everell started a tradition — the U.S. currently has the highest number of UFO sightings around the world.)

The Muddy River's path was altered throughout the 1950s and '60s, including the construction of the Bowker Overpass, and a parking lot for Sears. Now, due to climate change, the river is going to be restored.