Boston 2100


Active Member
May 25, 2006
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A dyke or a seawall could actually make it worse. It would turn the harbor brackish and kill the salt marshes.


Active Member
Mar 17, 2017
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It should be a no-brainer that a sea-wall of some sort will have to be constructed. I can't imagine the economic cost of a major retreat out of a city even modestly sized like Boston - that's talking about hundreds of billions of dollars of real-estate being abandoned/lost.
Ugh - I hate the argument that the general population has to back wealthy waterfront landowners' poor investments... Privatize gains, socialize losses. Gross.

Major infrastructure investment happens only after decades of planning, or one big disaster - so let's look at this from a "next big wave" scenario since it's easier. What would happen after 1 big storm?

1. Downtown gets flooded, and drains away, because it's been designed to do that for 200 years. No change.
2. Charles River Dam gets overrun, and all of cambridgeport, MIT, and Back Bay get water they've never seen before. All of the new Beacon Yards is flooded. Massive disaster and lots of structural issues since they're all built on fill anyway. Lots of political capital - definitely is getting rebuilt.
3. Water shoots up the Fort Point channel and floods the south end - drains out pretty quickly but stops South End development.
4. Mystic River Amelia Earhart dam gets overrun, and seawater floods Assembly then all the way up the Mystic and Alewife to Fresh Pond, which is now back to being a Marsh and takes months to get rid of water.
5. Seaport is flooded, and we test all these new "flood mitigation" structural decisions.

Seawalls might be a reality, but not across the harbor. Much more likely and manageable across the Charles and Mystic where storm surge is a much greater threat to larger communities instead of individual buildings.

My prediction? I see major commercial TOD growth in Harvard/Porter/Davis on Red, Sullivan and Malden Center on Orange. There will almost definitely be growth in Roxbury, and look to Chelsea Center getting an influx of development over the next 50 years, both likely rail connections. Seaport is seen as a great mistake of Boston development history.


Active Member
Mar 29, 2007
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The subway system was not that bad, in some ways better than today; no graffiti or homeless people back then. I do remember litter being very bad. It used to accumulate along the underside of chain link fences everywhere and was strewn alongside highways, etc. But I consider the litter of the 1950's to be the temporary byproduct of a newly affluent and disposable consumer culture. It took a few years for people to adjust to that, and by the 1970's it was pretty much all gone.

I'll tell you what for me was very different about the late 1950's/early 60's. I used to walk by myself, as a 10-year old kid, from Central Square, up Main Street to a basement in the Newtowne Court housing project to attend after-school art classes. Try that today and see what happens.
The 1923 Blue Line cars were not replaced until 1980. When I visited Montreal in 1967 I was blown away by their Metro. I felt like Jed Clampett when he arrived in Beverly Hills. Well Doggies! There was a modern world out there.

As a 10 year old I also walked all over Chelsea even in the early evening. As I said, I loved the time I grew up in.


Staff member
Dec 10, 2011
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I think one thing we can say for sure about 2100 will be the need for expanded parks and things that mimic outdoor activity (climbing walls). I think Keynes correctly predicted that in the future physical exertion will be a leisure activity--which we've already seen from the long emergence of physical culture (starting with running shoes being worn by everybody, and widespread fascination with "primal" physical hobbies (climbing, mountain biking, crazy-fit triathalon).

Another thing will be that it seems inevitable that core population will grow and we'll be increasingly unwilling to devote space to private cars from the 'burbs. I think NYC of today--in returning broadway to mostly bike-pedestrian space--is a good "next 30 years" look.

If you extrapolate that out, it means more "not cars" transportation, and a demand for more "people space"

So I'm not going to predict how we'd live or work, but if Boston is still inhabited by day or night, there's going to be demand for places to be "outside" both via population growth and a secular trend in favor of "physical effort as leisure"

I think that Bostons parks-as-flood-barrier is the perfect 80-year response


Senior Member
Sep 19, 2012
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The first iPhone came out in 2007. I worked for AT&T Wireless at the time. Before that there were a few smartphones like the Blackberry but they had a low IQ.
My point was that the concept of a smartphone was not that radical to someone in the 2000s. It was an evolution of an already established product paradigm. Mostly what Apple did was slap a consumer friendlier UX on the existing PDA concept while merging the idea of the iPod as an entertainment device with the phone / calendar / web browser capabilities of a PDA.

80 years from now is vastly more unpredictable.