Google Maps unveils 10-mile digital tour of Boston’s Charles River


by Laura Newberry

BOSTON — Google Maps unveiled Thursday a never-before-seen virtual tour of the city’s iconic Charles River.

A view of the Charles River and the North Bank Bridge.

A view of the Charles River and the North Bank Bridge.

The Charles River Conservancy, an environmental nonprofit, spent two weeks in October documenting the 10-mile stretch between the the Charles River Dam by the Museum of Science to the Watertown Dam.

The organization embarked on the venture in hopes it would lead to “more active and engaged stewardship of the river and its surrounding parklands,” said Renata von Tscharner, founder and president of the conservancy.

The panoramic portraits are made up of stitched-together snaps from the Google “Trekker” camera, a 40-pound piece of machinery that was loaned to the conservancy. The contraption is normally carried atop Google Street View cars, but for this project the conservancy used alternate modes of transportation that included a golf cart and a boat.

The Charles River Esplanade

The Charles River Esplanade.

The Trekker was manned by Evan Bradley, a part-time conservancy employee and a 22-year-old Northeastern University graduate.

Thanks to those efforts, online users can view the Charles River as seen if positioned directly on the water and from public paths in Boston and Cambridge.

“It’s where Boston goes to play, where students go to learn, and it is simply such an important feature of the city historically,” said Deanna Yick, Google’s Street View program manager. “We are especially proud to partner with the Charles River Conservancy in making the imagery of the Charles more accessible online.” -04db2f6b4d73ebac

von Tscharner said she hopes the project will foster a continued appreciation of the river in the digital age.

“The Charles has come a long way from its dirty past because people in this area have committed to being advocates for the river,” she said.

A view from the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path.

A view from the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path.

The US Environmental Protection Agency gave the Charles a B-plus rating in May for water quality, the Boston Globe reports. And in July, more than 125 people signed up to swim in a marked-off section of the Charles near the Esplanade.

The photos will be unveiled at a special event sponsored by the Charles River on Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Google headquarters in Cambridge.

To take the tour, click here.


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