Boston Divided – Jonathan Jew


Looking at a map of the MBTA system of the Lower Roxbury and Fenway Kenmore district, it is evident that there are seven different branches that radiate from the downtown core of Boston: the Green Line Branches B, C, D and E, the Red line, the Orange line and the Silver line. To get from the south to the north using rapid transit, one would have to take their respective branch to downtown and transfer to their destination branch. For example, if you would like to get from Dudley Square to Kenmore Square only using rapid transit, you would have to travel to Park Street then take the Green Line to Kenmore. This route takes over 45 minutes which is completely impractical. In order to combat this issue, the MBTA has crosstown bus lines such as #1, #66, CT1, CT2, and CT3 routes that travel perpendicular to the radial rapid transit lines but they are unreliable, slow and subject to bus bunching because they do not have dedicated lanes or other bus rapid transit infrastructure. These bus routes are insufficient. For instance, CT1 travels along Massachusetts Ave which is infamous for its traffic jams. Traveling from Washington Street to Commonwealth Ave can take up to 30 minutes in peak rush hour traffic. Obviously, it is difficult to travel crosstown in Boston and this prevents the flow of people from one branch to another despite their close proximity. The distance from Dudley Square to Kenmore Square is only a couple miles but they seem worlds apart because there is no direct rapid transit between them.


This radial transportation system greatly affects the landscape of Boston. Looking at the neighbourhoods of Roxbury and Kenmore, it is obvious that there is not an easy flow of people. A resident of Roxbury around Dudley Square has a hard time reaching the nicer areas to the north which traps him or her in that area. Without the means to reach places like Kenmore, they are much less likely to interact with people of that district and less likely to get a job there as well. A radial system isolates and segregates each of the branch and by looking at the landscapes it is very evident. The area around Dudley Square is primarily an African American and Hispanic neighbourhood and Kenmore Square is predominantly student population of Asians and Whites. For my sites, I want to follow the alignment of the  mostly canceled Urban Ring Project. This was envisioned as a true BRT crosstown system with dedicated bus lanes and infrastructure that would greatly improve crosstown transportation. It was canceled due to lack of funding and the federal government denying funding. How this transects the Emerald Necklace is that the Urban Ring was planned to intersect the Fens and it would have allowed more people to visit the Fens. Also, the Emerald Necklace is a linear park that radiates from the Boston Common which is similar to how the branches of the MBTA come out of the downtown core.


For my tour, I wanted to explore different areas along the different branches along the alignment of the proposed Urban Ring. Starting in Dudley Square in Lower Roxbury, I wanted to show a dichotomy of the different areas along the branches. Dudley Square station was once a bustling transportation center and had a flourishing business community. Today however, it is a lot less connected and no longer is served by rapid transit. It is cut off from the other branches of rapid transit and only buses serve the north south routes making travel from there to Cambridge or Allston difficult. The next stop is Whittier Project which was built in to house African Americans in lower cost housing. I wanted to use this as a point that differed greatly from other branches such as Longwood Medical Area and the higher living standards in Fenway and Allston. The connection that I wanted to make with the Emerald Necklace is that the linear way that it was laid out does not work for a transportation system. The most distinctive feature of the Emerald Necklace is that it is laid out as a linear park wrapping around Boston in a thin line. A lot of the public transportation lines follow a similar pattern and the Green Line was named for that sake, many of its branches ran parallel to the Emerald Necklace.