to CITY minus TRAFFIC, a preliminary set of ideas for reshaping
substantial parts of Allston, Brighton, Cambridge, and Fenway
near the Charles River, presented here as a site plan.
Picture, in your mind, the banks of the Charles River...
Now, try to imagine how this area, the "Central Park
of Boston," would be transformed if all automobile traffic
were removed. If there were no cars on a long stretch of the
Charles River banks — if parts of Storrow Drive and
Soldiers Field Road in Boston and of Memorial Drive and Fresh
Pond Parkway in Cambridge were to simply disappear —
then this central area of the city could be put to different
primary new use suggested here is open space. Additionally,
many suggestions for institutional, community, and other types
of expansion are presented in some detail. But how is it possible
to get rid of this traffic? The Charles River parkways are
vital routes into and out of the city, aren't they?
Replace long stretches of the Charles River parkways (Storrow
Drive, Memorial Drive, Soldiers Field Road, and Fresh Pond
Parkway) with a deep-bore tunnel running in a straight line
under the river banks.
If this traffic could only disappear, seven miles of public
land along and beyond the Charles River banks would be transformed.
This transformation would reshape the city, affecting institutions,
infrastructure, land values and many neighborhoods near the
Charles. Western towns and commuters who live in them would
also feel the effects. Clearly, removing the traffic along
the river would be a big change, but would it be for the better?
Why speculate about this now?
In November (2003), Harvard University formally initiated
an extraordinary planning effort called the Allston Initiative.
It is a plan to build several new campuses on some 200 acres
that Harvard has acquired in Allston and Brighton over many
years. (Harvard President Summers' speech about this initiative
is available on the Harvard
The Allston Initiative would be very different if the parkways
dividing Harvard University from the Charles River were removed.
The benefit for Harvard of having no traffic between its old
and new campuses is clear, but other neighborhoods, communities,
and institutions would also be affected. Public review of
Harvard's planned expansion into Allston will eventually occur,
but a broader civic disucssion should begin now. The communities
that will be most affected should be looking beyond the Allston
Initiative to their own visions for the future of the Charles
Harvard has sought community suggestions for the Allston Initiative.
This website provides several such offerings. If the suggestions
to be found here manage to elicit other ideas that
emerge for discussion in public forums, this website will
have fulfilled its main purpose.