The Central Artery: How Boston’s waterfront once looked

The Central Artery, the giant metallic green overpass that once wound its way through Boston’s busiest downtown streets, is now long gone. However, it defined the waterfront cityscape for a great many years, which is why I wanted to share these cool pictures I once took of the central artery at twilight, in the twilight of its useful life, back in the summer of 2001:

Boston Skyline

This photo, along with the next three, was taken using a tripod and an old-school Canon 35 mm camera from the roof of the New England Aquarium parking garage on a summer evening back in 2001. The light of the city reflects the massive green steel structure that would rival in size only Fenway Park in this city. To the Northwest, the sun sets against a clear sky. Doesn’t the city look busy with traffic for this late on a mid-summer evening? To me, it actually felt pretty empty at the time.

International Place and the State Street building (at the time) with its large light-up sign. Below, the traffic on Atlantic Avenue rushes by barriers set up to wall off construction on the big dig. There was a time where it seems like one would have to navigate a maze of concrete barriers to get from downtown to the North End.

Financial district boston

Looking North again, this time with the Zakim bridge visible:

North End Boston

A zoomed in shot of the main stretch, looking North toward the North End. Note the exits for Causeway Street and the Callahan Tunnel to Logan Airport. Below, lies equipment and space used on constructing what was at the time a new, state of the art underground tunnel.

Boston waterfront central artery


The Customs House, Boston’s Original Skyscraper:

Central artery

A final photo, taken on a different night from a different place (Dock Square Garage) with  different camera (this time digital, so no time lapse light streaks!!). Note the Old North Church and the Fleet Center:

Boston North End


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