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Beyond The Big Dig
About this project

What happens to the ribbon of land being created by the depression of the Central Artery may be the most important development decision to face Boston in a generation.




Plans for the land

There are many voices involved in the debate over the use of the land being freed up by the demolition of the Central Artery. As constituencies express their interests in the future of these parcels, their voices see to frame hard choices. Should the new places be neighborhood oriented or welcoming to visitors? Should they be fun attractions or serious civic symbols? Should they be crowded or calm places? Should they be coated with new buildings or left entirely open?

A few things are clear:

  • Streets and sidewalks will be the largest component of the Big Dig cover.
  • Together, the final design parcels comprise about seven acres of land within the 27 acres being restored above the Central Artery, with the balance already dedicated to other purposes.
  • Buildings will cover 10 parcels, restoring blocks and covering highway ramps.
  • The Massachusetts Horticultural Society has been chosen to build a major exhibit and educational center on three parcels at the edge of the Financial District.
  • Environmental and public planning have designated the remaining parcels as open space.

This is where the debate begins.

Massachusetts Turnpile Authority Master Plan

The Turnpike Authority, which is in charge of the Big Dig, has commissioned a detailed study of the property and its potential uses. The resulting "Boston Central Artery Corridor Master Plan" provides a framework for many of the discussions about the future of the land. The report itself is not available on the web, but a key component, the Urban Issues Analysis Report, is available in .pdf form (which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader to view):

* Introduction
* Chapter 1: History
* Chapter 2: Districts
* Chapter 3: Transportation
* Chapter 4: People
* Chapter 5: Open Space
* Chapter 6: Building Context
* Chapter 7: Visual Analysis
* Chapter 8: Urban Forces
* Chapter 9: Summary and Appendix

Visit the Turnpike Authority's Big Dig web site, bigdig.com, for more information on the master plan.

Artery Business Committee

Several private organizations have commissioned separate planning studies of sections of the Greenway. The Artery Business Committee, formed in 1988 to represent business interests in Big Dig planning and construction, has produced a comprehensive alternate development plan for the central portion of the Greenway, known as the Wharf District. Architect and planner Hubert Murray, principal author of the study, which is called "Harbor Gardens: A Concept for Boston's Wharf District," has provided Boston.com a condensed version.

* Read the Artery Business Committee plan

North End Central Artery Advisory Committee

The North End Central Artery Advisory Committee, a neighborhood group, engaged Sutphin Associates and Weinmayr Associates, both of Cambridge, to review options for a key North End ramp parcel. Their joint presentation is on the web, courtesy of northendboston.com.

* Read the Sutphin and Weinmayr report




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