Zakim Bridge

I was futz­ing around in Pho­to­shop the oth­er day, in-between work­ing on some free­lance gigs… (it’s com­ing matt!)… and I cre­at­ed this lit­tle vec­tor­ized ver­sion of the new Charles riv­er bridge in Boston. I think it’s fab­u­lous that the city named it for Lenny Zakim, a civ­il rights activist and com­mu­ni­ty leader—especially giv­en that he passed-away in 1999.

I cer­tain­ly under­stand why gov­ern­ment build­ings and oth­er projects are named for WWII heroes and long-dead (some cor­rupt) politi­cians, but I’m encour­aged by this choice… It’s a mod­ern, per­son­al and mean­ing­ful choice.

Per­son­al­ly, I’m kind of ambiva­lent about all of this Big Dig stuff. Ele­vat­ed high­ways are evil, so I will be glad to see the Green Mon­ster come down. Still, what will be put in it’s place? And at what cost? The cur­rent plans call for most­ly green “open” space, sur­round­ed by sur­face roads that might have as many as 4 lanes. Whoa. Wait up. You’re replac­ing 8 lanes of ele­vat­ed high­way, with 8 lanes of mod­ern, wide-lane sur­face streets. Not to men­tion the 10 lanes under­ground.

It would be a mis­take to try and cor­rect the trans­porta­tion and urban renew­al mis­takes of the 1950s, by drop­ping a nar­row park in the mid­dle of all that asphalt. This city needs to knit back togeth­er the fab­ric of a neigh­bor­hood that was sheared in two. That means mod­er­ate­ly-scaled build­ings, shops, caf?s, side­walks and, in the mid­dle of all this: a park. Maybe with a foun­tain. And, you’ve got to min­i­mize traf­fic. Make it dif­fi­cult for cars to move through there.

Down­town Boston burned in 1872, so rein­vent­ing down­town is noth­ing new. I’d hate to think that this sce­nario would unfold: Devel­op­ers get to build tall, pri­vate sky­scrap­ers cut off from the street; the fire depart­ment gets wide traf­fic lanes; the tree-hug­gers get the rest as dead “open” space. That’s a recipe for a non-place. This should be the place… the des­ti­na­tion.

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