Never Built Boston

Massive projects stayed a dream in 20th century Boston. Lessons from the failed ideas of the past inform a more complete understanding of the city in the 21st century.
December 5, 2018, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Some projects do get built in Boston.
Vaclav Jirousek

Anthony Flint takes a tour of what might have been in Boston, where there's a uniquely long history of massive projects that never got built. Flint it mining history for lessons about what separates the never built from the transformative.

Lessons considered by Flint and sources: that Bostonians are easily spooked, or that Boston has constantly sought to expand outward (by making more land, literally) or upward (history is full of failed skyscraper ideas).

Five projects are particularly informative, according to Flint:

  1. Inner Belt, Southwest Expressway, and Northwest Expressway (1907-1971)
  2. Mission Control at Kendall Square (1961-1968)
  3. Completion of the Emerald Necklace (1897-present)
  4. City Hall Plaza improvements, restoration of Hanover Street, Congress Street pedestrian bridge (circa 1965-present)
  5. South Boston Megaplex; football and baseball stadiums (1990-2000)

Implied in some of the discussion with reference to specific projects is that some of these projects could still be built.

For more on the "never built" or "unbuilt" trope, see previous explorations from Los Angeles, ChicagoNew York, and Seattle.

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Published on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 in The Boston Globe
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