Longfellow Bridge, Spanning Charles River at Main Street, Boston, Suffolk County, MA
Photo Caption Pages
Spanning Charles River at Main Street, Boston, MA
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Documentation compiled after 1968.
Survey number HAER MA-47
Building/structure dates: 1907 initial construction
Significance: The chief monument of the Charles River Basin and the structure which does more than any other to formalize the planning of the river is the Longfellow Bridge, designed, the bridge commissioners wrote in 1900, "to furnish the eastern boundary of a great park system along 18 miles of river...destined to be the most beautiful park in the country. It is the present purpose, to make the new Cambridge Bridge one of the finest and most beautiful structures in the world." The Longfellow Bridge was authorized by the same 1894 legislation which authorized the Boston Transit Commission, the Tremont Subway, and the Charlestown Bridge. Like the Tremont Street Subway, the Longfellow Bridge was in large part a result of heavy streetcar congestion brought about by the increased traffic of the new electric cars. The old West Chamberlain Bridge, constructed in 1793 and rebuilt in 1854, had been on the very first route to carry horsecar traffic, in 1856. Originally known as the Cambridge Bridge, the present structure was begun in July 1900 and completed in 1907. The Chief Engineer since 1885, Jackson had been responsible for most of Boston's major bridges in this period, among them the Charlestown, Northern Avenue, and Harvard bridges. The Cambridge Bridge, completed three years before his death, was his most important project.
Steel Arch Bridges
Wheelwright, Edmund M.
Lowe, Jet, Photographer
Historic American Engineering Record (Library of Congress)
1. General view of the Longfellow Bridge
2. View of the central span of the bridge showing the four towers marking the harbor entrance
3. Detail view of the piers and towers
4. Detail of bridge abutment
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