The elevated Central Artery
The elevated Central Artery
Undated photo: An aerial view, looking north, of Boston before construction of the Central Artery. The present day Pine Street Inn building can be seen in the lower middle. Originally that building was Fire Department Headquarters until 1951. The building featured a tall drill tower that was used for training fire department recruits.
Feb. 7, 1950: The Warren Bridge carried a branch of the aerial highway that eliminated a bottleneck at that point. It was estimated that about 13,000 motor vehicles that had entered Boston by way of the Mystic River Bridge and the Warren or Charles River bridges would use the artery by choice.
May 23, 1952: A 96-foot, 200-ton span of 17 girders collapsed into Sullivan Square — two minutes after two MTA buses loaded with passengers had passed under the 40-foot high structure. The overpass was designed to carry traffic from Mystic Avenue and Broadway, Somerville, over Sullivan Square to Rutherford Avenue in Charlestown and connect with the Boston Central Artery and Mystic River Bridge.
Jan. 1, 1953: This mass of concrete arches was built to hold up the high level roadway that led to Somerville.
April 8, 1953: Demolition began in the North End in the first few months of 1953 and workers began driving the concrete piles that supported the steel columns that would hold up the elevated roadway. This published graphic showed the pedestrian route to navigate parallel to Hanover Street, which was closed to traffic and pedestrians.
May 17, 1954: As the demolition teams cleared the way for Boston's Central Artery, they uncovered a new Boston. Buildings walled in by often taller structures stood out clearly. Every building of major historical importance was saved. Here the view is looking south toward the Harbor Building on Atlantic Avenue (left background). In foreground are three reinforced concrete piers for the future elevated, six-lane expressway.
June 25, 1959: Crowds gathered at Kneeland Street for the official opening of the downtown segment of the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway and the Southeast Expressway. Governor Foster Furcolo opened the new highway at exercises on the Central Artery near the tunnel entrance. The long-awaited access to the South Shore opened eight months ahead of schedule. Special equipment and machinery were used during the winter months to cope with elements that may have otherwise delayed construction.
Nov. 4, 1959: A complete closed circuit television and paging system was installed in the tunnel, which linked the Central Artery and the Southeast Expressway. The TV system consisted of eight television pick-up cameras in each tube of the tunnel which were then connected to the television monitors in the control building. Charles Sperrazza monitored the system here for any motorist needing aid or other type of mechanical trouble. He could also call out instructions to motorists by means of a public address system. This was of special value in case of a bad accident or fire in which which panic and confusion could be a factor.
June 10, 1964: After more than eight years of construction, the Central Artery and the Southeast Expressway were joined together on June 25, 1959, when both expressways finally opened to traffic. During its first day of operation, some 60,000 vehicles used the new six-lane Central Artery. The first traffic jam was recorded only three months after completion.