Connections North tells a story that spans 300 years—from the time when Harvard College’s main source of income was the Charlestown ferry, through present-day Boston and the $253million Longfellow Bridge reconstruction project.
The exhibit reveals how the progression of bridges changed not just the area immediately surrounding the Charles River, but the entire face of the city.
“Historically, bridges are a very revealing, indicator of the issues faced by a society,”says exhibition curator Duane Lucia. “Is a bridge a private investment? Should it have a toll or should it be free to all? Should it be purely practical or should it be making an artistic statement? Bridges are more than just away to cross the river :they have social implications, too.”
Connections North delves into the social, economic, architectural and geographic impact of the first four bridges built from Boston’s West End: the Charles River Bridge, West Boston Bridge, Canal Bridge and Warren Bridge.
These structures opened up new markets for goods and enabled expansion along with residential and commercial development. In many ways, they were game-changers for the city.
The exhibition features many historical pictures and maps that reveal the original shape of Boston (before it was filled in during the land-‐making programs of the 19th century) and recounts how the dynamic of transport was key to that evolution.
Exhibit and Design copyright Duane Lucia.
Did you know…
that for 150 years Harvard college depended on an unusual source of income: its ferry. Harvard opposed attempts to build bridges, claiming that more visitors would put “scholars in danger of being too much interrupted in their studies & hurt in their morals.”
It’s easy to forget that Boston is a peninsula surrounded by water, but until the Charles River Bridge was built in 1786 there there were only two ways to get to Cambridge: take the Charlestown ferry, owned by the Harvard Corporation, or make an 8 mile journey overland via Boston Neck (Washington Street) through Roxbury and Brookline.
Connections North tells a story spanning 300 years about the bridges that changed not only the area immediately around the Charles, but the entire face of Boston, which benefited from new resources brought in from the north. We’ll be covering the Charles River Bridge, West Boston Bridge, Canal Bridge and Warren Bridge, along with their design, construction and the political intrigues they stirred up!