Editorials

editorial

Boston should protect damaged historical marker

This historic mile marker on the edge of a sidewalk on Harvard Avenue in Allston is one of a series erected between Boston and Springfield almost three centuries ago.
rob anderson
This historic mile marker on the edge of a sidewalk on Harvard Avenue in Allston is one of a series erected between Boston and Springfield almost three centuries ago.

A tombstone-like historic mile marker on the edge of a sidewalk on Harvard Avenue in Allston hardly attracts glances from passersby, even after it was toppled last July and surrounded by a metal police barricade. In fact, most people walk by the Colonial relic — erected 283 years ago by John Paul Dudley, who would later become chief justice of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, as one in a series of mile markers between Boston and Springfield — without noticing it at all.

The nonchalant attitude says something about Boston’s perception of its rich history: A marker that would be given prominent billing in other towns is accepted as part of the everyday scenery in monument-heavy Boston. But it also hints at a larger problem: Residents and government agencies have been slow to protect some of Boston’s historical sites.

An errant truck knocked the marker over nine months ago and almost destroyed it. But the rock still sits, glued but still broken, on the same location. The state transportation department plans to repair the marker in the near future. The city should also consider installing a small plaque explaining the marker’s significance. After ensuring that its historical sites are safe, Boston ought to take the next step and help residents understand — and appreciate — the history around them.

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