The Boston University Bridge is best known for connecting Boston and Cambridge over the Charles River. The 81-year-old bridge is also known for its views of the “downtown skyline, the pulsating Citgo sign, Beacon Hill capped with the gleaming golden dome of the Statehouse, Esplanade greenery, [and] sailboats” (Daniloff). The bridge’s green arch and the graffiti-filled CSX Railroad Bridge are part of its dominant features. Back in the 1850’s it was a drawbridge called the Brookline Bridge. It was then renovated in the 1920’s and renamed the Cottage Farm Bridge. In the 1940’s, it was renamed again as the Boston University Bridge. Now, in 2018, it is undergoing final construction. This site is a long-standing part of the Charles River community.
The Boston University Bridge is a long-standing part of the Boston and
Cambridge area. During the 1920s, the earlier Cottage Farm Bridge was described by an unknown author in the Harvard Crimson as “an eye sore to travelers
between Boston and Cambridge.”4 After its renovation in the 1940’s the bridge marked the “western boundary of the
growing Charles River Campus.”1 Its renaming was the result of a group of
Boston University students who proposed to rename the bridge - Boston
University Bridge. They marched to the State House, presented their
proposals, and allied with State Senator (and later Senate President) John E. Powers, who urged the
legislation to rename the site. In May 1949 the bridge was renamed and celebrated
with a “commemorative plaque that cited BU's ‘service to state &
nation’ unveiled by Powers and BU President, Daniel Marsh. and Powers.1 It was followed by a parade of ROTC4 members and “pretty Boston
University coeds.”2 Unfortunately, the plaque was stolen long
ago and only the bolt holes remain. It has since then developed majorly and
holds special significance in the Boston University culture.
The Charles River is now best known for its recreational use,
yet in the past it served as an industrial site; coal barges were used to
deliver fuel to the Blackstone Power Station. This original function influenced the bridge's architectural build. The bridge was build at its height to avoid potential
The CSX Grand Junction Railroad located atop is a freight train, and since its
first construction it dropped from two working tracks to one. Yet now it
serves more as an “urban canvas.”2 (Daniloff). The large steel squares are
covered with graffiti, mostly representing school logos such as BU, MIT, Tufts,
and BC; some of these tags date back to 1997. The bridge is federal property,
making it illegal to deface it. Yet, despite multiple efforts to remove the
graffiti, the art continuously returns adding to the overall character of the
In recent years, the Bridge has undergone major reconstruction. The decks and sidewalks needed repair, as well replacement of the
rusted parts. During its closure,
it altered the route of over 30,000 drivers per day.
As of 2018, the Bridge is fully functioning and operating regularly.