Tag Archive for 'civil rights'

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.