scorecardresearch Skip to main content
Globe Watch

Beacon Hill sidewalk is hazardous eyesore

City officials say property owners should do repair

A reader wondered how a section of sidewalk on Beacon Street opposite the State House, near the corner of Park Street, was allowed to become so worn and uneven. Christina Pazzanese for The Boston Globe/Christina Pazzanese for the Bost

Reader Tunie Hamlen asked why the sidewalk near the corner of Beacon and Park streets is in such shabby condition, given its high traffic and prestigious location atop Beacon Hill.

“Several times I have reported how deplorable the sidewalk is across from our glorious State House!’’ Hamlen wrote in an e-mail. The owner of a tour company, she called it “embarrassing to walk visitors down Beacon St. - after visiting the Shaw Memorial and the magnificent State House - and then see how deplorable the sidewalk [on] lower Beacon Street has become.’’

Hamlen, who lives in Cambridge, said she walks through the neighborhood at least twice a week and has seen just how impassable the deteriorated sidewalk can be, particularly for those in wheelchairs. And she said she hears critical comments from the many tourists who use the walkway.


“What a sad impression we give to visitors and to our own residents,’’ she wrote. “Help get the City of Boston to do something about this!!!’’

Hamlen also took issue with the construction in the Boston Common that she says has gone on far too long.

“It has taken the better part of 1.5 years to repair the piping for the fabulous Brewer Fountain - many, many days there are apparently NO people working behind the ‘green walls’ - and why so much of the area [is] ‘off limits’ is a real scandal. I suspect that the longer the workers drag out this project, the more they will be paid.’’

During a recent visit, a Globe reporter found the stretch of sidewalk that fronts the Boston Athenaeum, the offices of the Museum of African American History, the Boston Bar Association, and the Fox25 TV studio in pretty bad shape. Unlike neighboring sidewalks, the walking surface was an ad hoc mix of cracked stone slabs and bumpy patches of cement or asphalt. Some sections of the sidewalk sloped dramatically toward the street, and the curb was worn down and uneven.



The city is aware of the poorly maintained sidewalk and has been working to get the problem fixed, Matthew Mayrl, chief of staff for the Public Works Department, wrote in an e-mail. Because there are underground areas beneath the sidewalk that connect to adjacent buildings, it is the responsibility of the building owners - not the city - to initiate and make the necessary repairs, he wrote.

After hearing complaints from neighbors, the Inspectional Services Department issued citations last month to several Beacon Street property owners for what inspectors called the “dangerous’’ conditions.

“The City will continue to work with the owners of the building to ensure the sidewalks are fixed as soon as possible,’’ he wrote.

As for the Boston Common construction, a Parks Department spokeswoman said that although it may appear there is a perpetual project going on, it is really two unrelated initiatives. Above-ground work to install a new elevator at the Park Street MBTA station was recently finished and has moved underground, said spokeswoman Jacquelyn Goddard.

With the major components of the Brewer Fountain restoration wrapping up last month, fencing to cordon off the large section of grass between the fountain and the Common entrance across from the State House is scheduled to be taken down this week. Goddard said it was put up to protect newly planted sod while it was taking root and was left up to keep people off until after the Dec. 1 tree-lighting ceremony.



Joanne Massaro

Chief of Public Works and Transportation

Public Works Department

1 City Hall Square

Room 714

Boston, MA 02201-2024 617-635-4900

GlobeWatch appears every other Monday. Readers with problems they would like addressed can send e-mails to