Institutions, January 2014

james brown

new garden

new garden

"We in Boston, will honor Dr. King in peace."
-Mayor Kevin White

While riots were occurring in cities all over the United States as a response to Martin Luther King's assassination, James Brown performed a concert at the Boston Garden (just a day after the assassination on April 5th, 1968). Mayor Kevin White had WGBH record the concert so that people could watch from their homes and prevent people from going to the street riot. It has been said that thanks to James Brown, and his concert, there was no rioting in Boston.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has an article about the concert with a clip of James Brown's performance. There is also a VH1 documentary about "The Night James Brown Saved Boston."

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.

Institutions, November 2014, Bridge


kendall congeneration station from longfellow bridge (sonya kovacic)

kendall congeneration station from longfellow bridge (sonya kovacic)

The city of Boston has a "Greenovate Boston" goal of reducing Boston's greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. One solution is using steam produced from making electricity, to power heating and cooling devices through underground pipes. It is referred to as Green Steam. Veolia North America bought the Kendall Station power plant and has invested $168 million total into the Boston-Cambridge district energy network; including a 7,000-foot steam pipeline extension. It is predicted to reduce 475,000 tons of carbon per year, equivalent to removing 80,000 cars from the roads.

Although Kendall Station is the main power and steam plant, Veolia also has steam plants in Back Bay and Chinatown, as well as maintains and operates Longwood's MATEP (total energy facility and micro-grid).

According to Veolia, their customers include 250 commercial, healthcare, government, institutional and hospitality customers occupying 44 million square feet of building space within the central business district of Boston:

major hospitals (and in Boston, Veolia serves every major one),
biotech R&D facilities
data centers
office towers (including 70 percent of Boston's high-rise buildings)
colleges and universities
New England Aquarium
Faneuil Hall
City Hall
Holocaust Memorial
Prudential Building

To see a map of Veolia's energy network, click  here.

The Boston Globe created an infographic to explain the steam process. 

Jamaica Plain, Brookline, Institutions, Bridge, November 2014


waiting for the 66 under the jamaicaway overpass (sonya kovacic)

waiting for the 66 under the jamaicaway overpass (sonya kovacic)

"Parkways are an integral part of Olmsted’s design of the Emerald Necklace. Originally laid out as carriage roads, the parkways were intended as pleasure routes following the meanderings of the Muddy River, connecting the parks from the Back Bay Fens in the heart of the city to the more rural Franklin Park. Although the parkways have become major commuter routes, they continue to provide scenic glimpses into the parks and a more verdant experience for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians."

-Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Jamaicaway is a four lane parkway in Jamaica Plain, connecting the Riverway and Arborway parkways. The parkway has become a popular route for cars and its windy and narrow roads have caused many accidents.

The Jamaicaway overpass was constructed as part of the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1934 (part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal). On the night of its opening, in August 1936, heavy rain caused damage, and the overpass was closed for repairs until the spring of 1938.

The Jamaicaway Towers and Town Houses is a 30 foot residential building that stands out in the JP landscape. Constructed in the 1960's, it was controversial at the time. Read the Jamaica Plain Gazette story and see a couple of before and after photos.

Institutions, Downtown, Landmark, October 2014

faneuil hall

before rush hour (sonya kovacic)

before rush hour (sonya kovacic)

Faneuil Hall was built in 1742 on top of a landfill that used to be the old Town Dock, Boston's port and center of commerce. Peter Faneuil, a prominent merchant, built the hall as a gift to the city and it became an important meeting place for colonists to gather and talk about their grievances against the British. In 1761, Faneuil Hall suffered its first fire, and all that remained were the brick walls. Thanks in part to a state authorized lottery signed by John Hancock, Faneuil hall was rebuilt and expanded in 1762. In 1826, Faneuil Hall was expanded once again to include Quincy Market and is now the 7th most visited attraction in the world.

On January 4, 1974, the gilded grasshopper weather vane that sits atop Faneuil Hall was stolen. It was recovered nine days later after a former steeplejack convicted of another crime told the police about its whereabouts. The grasshopper vane was found damaged in the cupola of Faneuil hall, with some parts found in a bus station storage locker in Park Square. The grasshopper was repaired and placed back atop Faneuil Hall, on July 27th.

Tomorrow morning in Faneuil Hall, half of the Bostonology team will be speaking about Bostonology at TEDxBoston. You can listen to our story here.