Scientists: Hub’s Historic Districts, Faneuil Hall Could Wash Away

We can’t all go home for the holiday, but Boston isn’t a bad place to be (even if just about everything is closed).
Faneuil Hall in Boston was used as a meetinghouse during the American Revolution. –AP

Historic Boston landmarks are at risk of being washed away by flooding because of extreme weather changes, including worsening storm surges and unusually high tides, according to a new report released this week by a group of MIT researchers.

The landmarks at risk include Faneuil Hall, and the Blackstone Block, which includes sites like the Ebenezer Hancock House and the Union Oyster House.

The researchers, part of the independent organization Union of Concerned Scientists, used reported cases of extreme weather and damage to predict the impact the climate will have on landmarks nationwide.

“This report sounds a wake-up call: as the impacts of climate change continue, we must protect these sites and reduce the risks,’’ the authors wrote.


Over the years, a growing number of wharves have beeen constructed in Boston, which has led to places like Faneuil Hall to move further away from the shoreline.

However, extreme high tides mounting to more than three and a half feet above already high tides have occurred 10 times in the last decade, the report found. These tides led to flooding in neighborhoods around Fort Point Channel and the Long and Central wharves. Researchers fear if tides continue to grow, the phenomenon — along with heavier rains — could threaten areas further inland in the coming decades.

The City of Boston is already taking some steps to prevent disaster, but recommend that residents do their part to reduce carbon emissions to “slow the pace of change.’’

“Boston has improved its emergency warning systems for flooding, high winds, and winter storms,’’ the authors wrote. “All new municipal construction must include both an evaluation of climate risks through the year 2050 and a description of ways to avoid, minimize, or mitigate those risks.’’

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