The Tobin Bridge and Chelsea

There was a thoughtful op-ed piece appearing in the Boston Globe this week concerning the city and its need to master the Tobin Bridge. That is to say, the author was trying to tell readers that the bridge cut the city in half, that the city remains cut in half 60 years after it was built, and that the city will always, forever, be cut in two because of the bridge’s presence.

We are not sure what exactly the writer’s ambition was in putting together his piece. He attempted to delineate the difference between the eastern side of the bridge and the western side and to note that all the commercial activity is taking place on the western side while the eastern side remains residential and much like it has always been.

Suffice to say, the bridge ruined the city. About 5,000 people from old families fled the city before their homes were taken to put the bridge in its place.

It did indeed cut the city in two decidedly forever. Then the bridge rained down lead paint poisoning into the ground on both sides of the bridge, destroying the health of thousands of Chelsea children who became sick from lead poisoning.

The bridge and its effect on the city is insurmountable. It will always be Chelsea’s cross to bear.

Not much can be done about it – and a few bicycle paths and other things the Globe op-ed writer suggested seemed just a bit ludicrous given the nature of the city, and of  the path of development here.

As pieces go, it was nice but again, we are not sure what was meant by it as everything that can be done in and around the bridge has been done.

And long after people traveling north and south stopped riding through Chelsea on their way to Boston or the North Shore, drivers for the past 60 years ride over Chelsea and look down at it.

That look down is hard to overcome.

That quick ride over the city instead of through it is the bottom line.

2 comments for “The Tobin Bridge and Chelsea

  1. Melissa Stockbridge
    September 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    I live in Chelsea and I don’t think everything that could be done has been done – why not clean out the crap, garbage etc that sits underneath the bridge and make it a skate park for kids with web cameras for safety. Better yet, have a bunch of our graffiti artists here in Chelsea work their magic on the ugly concrete footers – Chelsea is what we make it and it would be safe to walk and bike if we make it that way.

  2. September 26, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    Also don’t forget that much of the reason why each side of the Tobin is uniquely different is because of the Great Chelsea Fire of 1972. Most of what was north of the Tobin Bridge was destroyed in that fire. One would believe, considering the extent of damage between 16 and The Tobin in 1972, that the Tobin Bridge SAVED downtown Chelsea.

    Most of the land north of the Tobin was re-developed in the 70s.. The Mystic Mall was built, so was the office park at the corner of Everett Ave and Spruce.

    Even if the bridge came down tomorrow, it would take a large urban renewal project (similar to the one that is going to happen in Quincy Center and possibly Malden) in order to re-stitch the two very different sides. Its just not possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *