Sunday, June 06, 2021

Cambridge City Council considers rewriting the functioning of the City of Cambridge. 2. Very early history. PARTIAL transportation analysis.

Cambridge City Council considers rewriting the functioning of the City of Cambridge.   2.  Very early history. PARTIAL transportation analysis.

1. General.

2. The 60's, the two party system in Cambridge Government.

3. The 60's into the 70's, the “Mass. Pike” (I90).’

4. My bicycle commute to Boston University.  I90 realities today.

5. Relationship to Transportation Plans.

A. Green Line A.

B. Harvard’s Massive Alternative

C. Transportation Summary.

6. To be Continued.

1. General.

This is the second report in a series   The first segment was: “Cambridge City Council considers rewriting the functioning of the City of Cambridge.   I.  A personal prequil,” at  

2. The 60's, the two party system in Cambridge Government.

During the 60's, I was watching the Berlin Wall go up from too close a perspective for me, giving the UMass Amherst Dean of Students cause to call me the “Most dangerous student on Campus,” and working in Baltimore and Philadelphia.  In the spring of 1970, I visited Washington, D.C. where I perched in a high spot and begged the demonstrators to provide peace in their demonstrations. 

I have no personal knowledge of the occurrences in Cambridge during the 60's except as I interpret what was told me.

It is my understanding that James Leo Sullivan of Lowell, MA, was, for a time in the 1960s, City Manager of the City of Cambridge with Robert Healy, also of Lowell his assistant.

James Leo was removed as City Manager against his wishes.

Radicals, similar to those who convinced me of their incompetence at UMass Amherst, were apparently very active and got things done in Cambridge.  The most important achievement was Rent Control.

Rent Control, in my opinion, made Cambridge’s government work from the 1960's to the 1990's.  

Rent Control made Cambridge’s government work because it created a two party system in the Cambridge government, pro Rent Control and opposed to Rent Control.  Crucial was that the groupings created a situation in which each group kept an eye on the other.

Dating back to the 1940's, Cambridge has had a city council elected at large by “proposal representation.” The City Council, in turn, hires a City Manager to run the city.  Under proportional representation, the voters vote for candidates by order of preference.  The voters number candidates on the ballot starting with #1, favorite, and then by higher numbers based on lower levels of favoritism.  If the candidate you voted for, through winning or losing, cannot use your vote when it is counted, your vote goes to your #2 if that candidate can use it, and so forth.

Under this system, voters voted for slates of people with similar positions.  Thus it paid to have an overlap in positions with other candidates because “transfers” were most likely to go to people with similar positions to the #1, etc. on a particular ballot.  The key position starting in the 1960's was always on Rent Control.  Supporters and opponents formed very clear parties and kept their eyes on the activities of the opposite party.

3. The 60's into the 70's, the “Mass. Pike” (I90).’

The 60's saw very significant building of super highways in the United States in general and a lot of destruction in existing cities in particular.

Activists in Cambridge have been given credit for killing a highway called the “Inner Belt” which did a lot of destruction in Boston.  The Radicals were involved in the destruction of the “Inner Belt.”

In the early 70's, much more important than my, albeit spectacular, activities when I was a summer intern in the Massachusetts Governor’s office, was the final killing of the “Inner Belt” by the governor for whom I was interning.  

4. My bicycle commute to Boston University.  I90 realities today.

During my first semester as a post grad at Boston University Law I lived in an apartment in the North Allston neighborhood of Boston less than a mile from the, in progress, “Massachusetts Turnpike” (I90).  I90 follows the Charles River on the Boston side after it passes my former place in Allston.   It then  runs through the middle of the Boston University campus, passing under a large bridge bearing the southern end of the Boston University Bridge and two blocks or so of Commonwealth Avenue.  

A large area of I90 / the Mass. Pike near where I lived is now owned by Harvard University.  Harvard University is in planning to make most of this area Harvard’s Allston Village - Soldiers Field Road campus.  The most important future occupant of that coming campus has long looked like the Harvard Medical School.  

The zoning vote a year plus ago by all NINE of the Cambridge City Councilors to destroy Harvard Square zoning protections looks like preliminary activity to pay Harvard to move a lot of Harvard’s Harvard Square facilities to Harvard’s coming Allston Village - Soldiers Field Road campus.  

Nine Cambridge City Councilors want more retail in Harvard Square in place of housing and historical buildings.  The historical buildings would be “conserved” in accordance with a 200 page documents dictating the politically correct way to destroy historical buildings.  

Allston Village is already an active student haunt.  Allston Village would be made much more a student haunt by the new Harvard campus.  Allston Village could very possibly replace Harvard Square as one of the Boston areas big tourist magnets.

In the process, the Beacon Park railroad yard which was formerly in the future Harvard Medical School location has been moved to Worcester.  Both the railroad yard and the land occupied by I90 were purchased by Harvard, subject to public transportation needs.  A massive collection of highway ramps is being removed and the highway is being straightened.  This rebuild would move I90 closer to the western end of Boston University and to part of Boston’s South Allston neighborhood.

Here is a more recent view of I90 and Soldiers Field Road following the Charles River on the Boston side.  I90 is raised.  Below it is “Soldiers Field Road,” the boulevard following the Charles River on the Boston side.  To the right in the photo is the Charles River and then Cambridge.  My commute followed Memorial Drive, the partner boulevard on the Cambridge side.  

Every building shown in this photo is part of Boston University.

The Cambridge City Council has passed a vote which seemed to support moving highway facilities into the Charles River in the area shown in this photo from about the bend on.  

The most visible person speaking in favor of this destructive project was the Harvard Faculty Member who led the fight for destruction of Harvard Square’s meaningful zoning protections.  

This Harvard Faculty Member’s destructive, but Harvard favorable, activities have consistently failed to mention her employment by Harvard.  

I commuted by bicycle from North Allston to Boston University during my first semester at BU Law.  My route was along the Charles River on the Cambridge side between the River Street and Boston University Bridges.  I crossed both bridges over the Charles River in the process.  My final lap over the BU Bridge has since become a key feature in the 40 year residence of the Charles River White Geese.  

Here is another recent view of I90 just before it passes under the BU Bridge and Commonwealth Avenue.

The structure in the distance is the Grand Junction railway bridge.  The local transit operator, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, in 2003 proved that an off ramp could be built to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from this location.  

The near side of I90 is the east bound side.  The proposal would run an off ramp from this side of I90 over I90 and connect to the Grand Junction railway bridge.  The MBTA proposed that the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge be widened by cantilever construction in the downriver side.  In this photo the addition would be nearer the camera.  East is to the right, the destination of the inbound traffic.

Here is a view with the camera turned slightly to the right.[0547]

At the bottom left corner is the outbound side of I90, shown further from the camera above.  To the right is the BU Bridge.  The nearest opening under the BU Bridge is Soldiers Field Road.  The second opening is the Grand Junction Railroad.  The large building is a former Ford / Polaroid Plant more recently owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and, as near as I understand things, is now owned by Harvard University.  This building is on the northern / far side of Memorial Drive, across from the Destroyed Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese. 

Here is the reverse view of the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge, photo taken from the BU Bridge.  The structure on the left is the low wall protecting pedestrians on the western facing portion of the BU Bridge.  Slightly beyond the railroad bridge is Soldiers Field Road.  The building visible near the far end of the wall, during my bicycle commute, was a Cadillac - Oldsmobile dealer.  It is now part of Boston University.

Moving the camera in the direction of view, here is a view of the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge   heading toward Boston, A green traffic sign above I90 is visible almost straight ahead, looking at its edge and part of one side of the sign.  Looking really closely, traffic can be seen on that part of the highway.  The right side of the bridge and one of the two channels shown above is visible near the camera and to the right.  The smaller bridge going over Soldiers Field Road is clear in the prior photo. [

Here is the Cambridge end of the Grand Junction Railroad Bridge.  

To the left is the Destroyed Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese. Their prior mile long habitat has been reduced to the Destroyed Nesting Area and the luscious food there destroyed.  On the right is the Wild Area.  The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, the current owner, has plans to destroy all but one tree in the Wild Area.  

The downriver (east) edge of the BU Bridge is slightly visible in the bottom left corner.

Here is a summer photo of the doomed Wild Area.

Here is a photo of a goose family.  The gander on the right is Bumpy, the long time leader of the gaggle.  He was assassinated by a serial goose killer who apparently graduated to rape and murder at the Destroyed Nesting Area after the very noisy silence of the Cambridge City Council on his killing of  mother geese on their nests and then of Bumpy.  

The Cambridge City Council spent an hour discussing the rape and murder, but did not want to know where it occurred.  One city councilor identified the location, swallowed her words, looked around guiltily and joined the rest of the City Council, talking about Harvard Square.  She, post incumbency, has followed up in the fight to destroy habitat on the Charles River.

Starting in my second semester, I lived about a mile from Boston University in Cambridge’s Mid-Cambridge neighborhood, a few buildings from what was then the Cambridge Hospital.  That rearranged my bicycle commute to Boston University so that the only part on the river was over the BU Bridge.

Here is a more recent drone photo of the area of the BU Bridge where I traveled by bike when I lived in Allston and in my much longer residence in Cambridge.

This is a still taken from minute 10.55 of “From Cambridge to Boston with the DJ Inspire 1 Drone footage,” posted at

In the bottom right hand corner is the BU Bridge.  The triangular area to the left has now been the Destroyed Nesting Area of the Charles River White Geese for 40 years, with the currently doomed Wild Area the upper portion of the triangle.  To the very left is Memorial Drive on a bridge over a “rotary” under Memorial Drive at which the BU Bridge ends.

The extremely tall building above the Charles River and slightly to the right of center is the 22 story Boston University Law School.

The building barely visible to the left was formerly a Ford / Polaroid plant.  More recently it belonged to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Last I heard, it now belongs to Harvard University.

5. Relationship to Transportation Plans.

A. Green Line A.

To put the situation in better perspective, here is my proposal for a new “Green Line” A streetcar system running from the BU Bridge / Commonwealth Avenue in the area of the rebuilt I90 /  Mass. Pike.  Green Line A would ultimately connect to Harvard Station on the MBTA’s “Red Line.”   Boston is on the left / below.  Cambridge is on the right / above.

Proceeding from the bottom right, at the very corner, the yellow road is I90.

Moving up a little bit, the blue line makes a sharp turn.  The blue line is my proposed Green Line A.   At the point of the sharp turn is where Green Line A would go from air rights in the I90 corridor to the Commonwealth Avenue Green Line right of way.  The Commonwealth Avenue line is called Green Line B.  The previously existing Green Line branch A was removed decades ago.

Here is a photo of the connection viewed from the Green Line B right of way. [0648]

This photo is taken on the Commonwealth Avenue / BU Bridge bridge over I90.  The building whose edge is seen to the left is the former Cadillac - Oldsmobile Dealer.  Straight ahead and to the right is the beginning of the Boston University buildings west of the BU Bridge and between the Charles River and Green Line B.  The metal highway divider in the lower right corner separates the road bridge covering of I90 from the road bridge covering of the MBTA’s Worcester commuter rail line which adjoins I90 in this area.

For the connection, the street car tracks would fork to the right about the location of the car and GO OVER THE EDGE of the bridge above the commuter rail line and proceed in the I90 right of way along with the Worcester line.  The latest Harvard game seeks to add a stop to the Worcester line in the planned Allston Village - Soldiers Field Road campus where the Harvard Medical School would be located.

Moving to the left and up on my Green Line A plan (here is another copy), the second proposed stop on the new Green Line A would be for the relocated Harvard Medical School.  This is the point where Harvard wants a private commuter rail stop on the Worcester line.  The blue lines to the right of the Green Line A stop / proposed private commuter rail stop would be a yard for street cars running on Green Line A.

The next stop would be at the intersection of North Harvard Street and Cambridge Street in Allston.  This is the edge of residential North Allston.  At this point I turned on my bike route to go over the Charles to Cambridge and followed the river to the BU Bridge.

The next stop after Cambridge Street is in the North Allston neighborhood, North Harvard Street and Franklin Street.  I lived on a dead end side street parallel to Franklin Street and one block beyond Franklin Street.  My bike commute very quickly reached Cambridge Street and turned off the proposed Green Line A route toward the Charles River.  At the very top of the map are three proposed locations for the Harvard Square Green Line A terminal directly connecting to the Red Line.

B. Harvard’s Massive Alternative.

Harvard and its friends have proposed a much more expensive “deep bore” Red Line spur which, south of Harvard’s new campus, would run to the left of and FAR BELOW I90 to near the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area in the Fenway neighborhood of Boston.  This is the current location of Harvard Medical School.  This massive expense would create a quick connection between the Medical School classes and housing and the hospitals at which the medical students would train.

There is a very major difference between the Harvard proposal and Green Line A at Harvard Station.

Until the 1970's, Harvard Station was the northern terminal of the Red Line, with a yard for Red Line trains between the current station and the Charles River through a tunnel which, for the most part, still exists.  Green Line A would go under the Charles River and then under JFK Park in a location designed to accommodate a subway line without destroying trees.  

After the park, Green Line A would go under an existing pedestrian path which separates the Charles Hotel and Harvard’s J.F. Kennedy School of Government.  Under that path it would connect to the still existing train tunnel which ends at the J. F. Kennedy School of Government.  The JFK school replaced the subway train yards.  One or two pedestrian elevators have been built blocking the tunnel between there and Harvard Station proper.  One elevator is adjacent to the main Red Line part of the station.  One or both of the elevators would have to be moved.

By contrast, the Harvard proposal would tear up the existing Harvard Station.  Harvard’s new subway line would be start at Porter Station, the next Red Line station after Harvard Station.  Harvard’s proposal would split the existing line to create a spur to the Harvard Medical School area and then to the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area.

The existing subway station is in the way of Harvard’s beloved fork so it the existing Harvard Station would have to be rebuilt.

Harvard’s construction destroying and replacing the existing Harvard Station would, of necessity, dominate Harvard Square proper.

C. Transportation Summary.

Green Line A would run on bridge construction above or part of I90 and the future Harvard Medical School, etc.  It would then be built “cut and cover” under North Harvard Street from Cambridge Street to the Harvard Business School / Harvard Stadium area south of the Charles River.  It would then go under the Charles River.

Connection to the Harvard Medical School would be by way of Kenmore Station on Green Lines B, C and D.  There currently are very well organized bus connections from Kenmore Station and Landsdowne (Yawkey) commuter rail station to the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area.

The Harvard / Longwood Medical area is one of Massachusetts’ biggest cash cows.  It badly needs major transportation improvements.  The Urban Ring subway proposal would connect Kenmore / Fenway Park / Landsdowne Commuter Rail station by an “Orange Line” Spur to Harvard / Longwood Medical Area and then to downtown Boston (and from there Logan Airport) on the Orange Line by way of Ruggels Station.

I originally proposed the Kenmore superstation as a response to Cambridge maneuvers which would have moved Landsdowne Station.  The legislature greatly upgraded Landsdowne (Yawkey) Station reaffirming support for the Urban Ring concept after I informed the developer of Cambridge’s plans.  The Kenmore superstation would connect commuter rail with Green Line A / B / C / D and the Urban Ring, should the Urban Ring go forward.

Here is a photo of the upgraded Landsdowne Station.  It, along with Kenmore, is currently connected to the Harvard / Longwood Medical Area by well organized bus service.   Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox is across the street from the two buildings on the right.  The light array is part of Fenway Park.  Visible to the left is I90.

Harvard’s private train station at the proposed Harvard Medical School relocation is redundant to the Landsdowne  Station inbound from Harvard’s proposed private station, and redundant to the Boston Crossing station about a mile outbound from Harvard’s proposed private station.  The Boston Crossing station could easily be connected to Harvard’s Medical School by bus service as well.

6. To be Continued.

My apologies for the extended transportation analysis.  This entire situation involves a very major part of the Boston area.  Cambridge’s games have repeatedly lost, with help from me and, more importantly, from the HIGHLY responsible Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  The transportation analysis fits my commuting route.  The powers that be in Cambridge are playing a whole bunch of other dirty tricks.

Also of major importance is MIT’s attempt to get a private I90 exit using the MBTA 2003 plans to widen the Grand Junction Railroad bridge.  This is currently being sold as a bike path.

I have communicated this outrage to the Cambridge City Council at its March 15, 2021 meeting.  The official City Council record is posted at, pages 131 to 161.

A less complicated view to find of that letter is posted with a link on the Charles River White Geese web page at,  

Note, however, that this analysis is of necessity abbreviated.  There are more transportation activities possible which would really turn this analysis into a book.  

In the meantime, Cambridge keeps fighting for environmental destruction and lying about environmental sainthood.