Our third volume of River Stories is a collection of memoirs, poems, reflections, and artwork about the Charles River by local writers and artists. Featuring fine writing and vibrant artwork, it celebrates the Charles River Parklands, and the experiences and memories of those who cherish them.
For the most recent volume of River Stories, we are excited to include written pieces from Pulitzer Prize winning authors Megan Marshall and Stephen Greenblatt, NPR’s Tom Ashbrook, architect William Rawn, and many more. We are also proud to feature artistic maps from local artists, including award-winning watercolorist Frank Costantino, Tom Gastel, Carolyn Newberger, and others.
Previous editions of River Stories:
In 2004 the Conservancy, in collaboration with Revels, began the annual celebration RiverSing as a way to build community in the parklands through an artistic and musical celebration that is free and accessible to all. Now part of Revels’ seasonal calendar, RiverSing attracts thousands of people from Boston, Cambridge, and nearby communities each fall to enjoy Boston area choruses and join in participatory singing across the river.
On a Sunday evening in September, RiverSing participants (including many families and children) gather on the shore near the Weeks Footbridge and sing familiar songs. The event concludes with bell ringing and celebratory dancing as the crowd is invited to welcome autumn to the banks of the beautiful Charles River.
The 18-mile paved (for the most part) path, which stretches along both sides of the Charles River from the Watertown Dam to the Museum of Science and below, is used by as many as 20,000 people a day in good weather.
Thanks to a successful public-private partnership, the Conservancy helped drive a fundraising campaign to repave especially hazardous pathways along the south shore at the Brighton-Newton border. The Conservancy raised $22,000 from bicyclists, park enthusiasts, and foundations. In addition, the Solomon Fund contributed $25,000. With a match from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and a contribution by DCR, work in excess of $100,000 was completed.
The Conservancy also works with other advocates and organizations to improve access, ease congestion, and ensure safety and maintenance of the parklands for the sake of cyclists and pedestrians.
- Read our Charles River Pathways Report (2006) for analysis and recommendations for the south shore of the Charles River pathway.
Since 2004 the Charles River Conservancy has worked to install permanent lighting on four of the Charles River bridges: the Weeks Footbridge, Anderson Bridge, Western Avenue Bridge, and River Street Bridge.
These bridge illuminations both beautify and draw attention to the architectural treasures that connect Boston and Cambridge.
In 2008, the Conservancy worked with light designer John Powell, of Light Time in Space, Inc., and with Luminus, Inc., a firm that makes high-quality LED lights, to illuminate the arches under the Weeks Footbridge. Placed just above water level, the new installation highlights the once-shadowy underbelly of the bridge. Usually bright white, the lights can also be changed to vibrant colors, as they were during the annual RiverSing event in 2008 when the Weeks Footbridge was the “main stage” (see photo above).
We’re grateful for the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s support in the permitting process.
ILLUMINATION OF THE HARVARD BRIDGE
Working closely with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), who owns and maintains the vehicular bridges over the Charles, the Conservancy held a design competition for the bridge lighting. The selected lighting scheme was conceived by bridge architect Miguel Rosales of Rosales + Partners (see rendering to the left).
Remaining respectful and deferential to the history and design of the Harvard Bridge, most of the lighting fixtures in the Rosales design would remain hidden, save a series of blue globes that would highlight the steel beams supporting the bridge sidewalks. Gentle, diffused LED lighting would illuminate the bridge’s arches and dramatic granite piers while reflecting on the water below. Linear, interactive lights would also be placed on all sidewalks to highlight the infamous smoot measuring system painted on the bridge by MIT students. Finally, new LED fixtures would bring new light to the bridge’s roadway and sidewalks, greatly increasing visibility and safety at night. View the full Rosales design here.
In this process with MassDOT and Rosales + Partners, the cost of the project was determined to exceed the funds currently available. The Conservancy is excited about this project and hopes to see it through at some later point, when the funding and the project cost align. If you are a donor interested in this project or if you would like more information, please contact SJ Port, Director of Communications and Development, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617.300.8172.