Boston Alt History

DZH22

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2006
Messages
8,392
Reaction score
13,371
I think the dynamics of the 1980's would have been different if JFK/RFK had had a 16 year run. The country wouldn't have swung so far right and Reagan wouldn't have been elected. The white working class bloc that elected Reagan would have stayed more Democrat.
As far as I can tell, the country constantly swings like a pendulum as whichever party is in power does a terrible job in their own special ways. If JFK had 8 years in office, it's far from a guarantee that RFK would have been as popular as he was.

From a "Boston history" perspective, didn't the spigot of federal funding for urban renewal projects dry up after JFK was assassinated? If we had 16 years of those 2, how much more of Boston would be have demolished by the wrecking ball? We could have had another "anywhere, USA" city like Dallas or Houston, an unredeemable urban hellhole. So in the alt history, neither is assassinated, we have 16 years of them, DTX and all the surrounding area is demolished for a gigantic indoor mall, most of the South End gets the wrecking ball, North End gets the wrecking ball, and that highway through Roxbury is completed. Boston would no longer be seen as a destination, but in fairness, many other historic US cities would have lost much of their character as well. Montreal would be the preeminent historic city remaining in North America.
 

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
2,345
Reaction score
1,404
That may be likely. I'm more wondering what about the Kennedys would have produced more urban-friendly outcomes relative to the LBJ thru Ford period in the OT.
It's not so much the Kennedys; it would have been more the absence of the Vietnam war that would have really changed some key things in America. Without the war, the polarization of the country wouldn't have happened to the vast extent that it did, a polarization that drove the white working class to the right, electing Reagan. Also without the war, Federal funding for domestic programs. including urban renewal, would have been a lot more pronounced. Sorry I threw in the JFK/RFK dynasty scenario, Really, even if only JFK had lasted two terms, in my opinion the Vietnam war would have been cut short a lot sooner, and the entire country would have been very different for the last 57 years. Boston would have been different, perhaps for the worse as pointed out above, due to overreaching, over-funded urban renewal.
 

Scott

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
798
Reaction score
204
Its been mentioned on AB before but it is fun to think about an alt early 20th Century where what is now Hanscom or even Squantum became the major airport.
 

Equilibria

Senior Member
Joined
May 6, 2007
Messages
5,377
Reaction score
3,093
When Congress failed to override Reagan's veto of Massachusetts's audacious and overpriced scheme to bury the Central Artery, congestion on the roadway choked off access from most of the region to Logan International Airport. The inability of Boston residents to reach a facility easily visible across the harbor, combined with the competitive threat of airports in Manchester and Providence, led the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to establish the Greater Boston Airport Authority in 1995 to build a new airport at Fort Devens in anticipation of the base's closure in 1996. The soon-to-be-displaced residents of the towns of Shirley and Ayer were ultimately overruled by statewide politicians and Boston business interests, and were particularly outraged that the facility would be named for Cambridge's former House Speaker Tip O'Neill, deceased the previous year. The cost of the project, initially estimated at $5 billion, ballooned to nearly $25 billion by completion in 2010, but Federal funding was secured throughout the 2000s by Republican governors' close friendships in the Bush Administration.

In anticipation of O'Neill International Airport's opening, businesses clamored for swanky new offices around I-495 in Marlborough, where road access would be quick and easy via I-595 (formerly Route 2). This cluster notably includes the nation's tallest suburban office tower, the 1,000-foot General Electric Center, completed in 2018 (GE's fortunes turned during construction and the building sits mostly empty as of 2020). While the airport was built with an on-site commuter rail station on the Fitchburg line, promised high-speed rail remained locked in endless studies and funding squabbles a decade after the airport's opening. This has limited access from Downtown Boston to an approximately 50-minute train ride or taxi in heavy congestion, and businesses requiring easy access to corporate travel largely left Downtown for the Route 128 and I-495 belts, encouraged by MIT's research and development campus at the former Hanscom Air Force Base . Downtown Boston has become largely empty except for employees of state and federal government, hospitals, and industries that require access to seaports.

The former Logan Airport was initially seen as a strong contender for redevelopment, but lack of demand saw it sit dormant and polluted. A movement in East Boston to return the land to a more natural swamp as flood protection is gaining ground as the 2020s begin.
 

DominusNovus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Messages
920
Reaction score
56
North and South Stations were connected by a cut and cover rail link during the peaceful 1910s during a major construction effort. Boston’s commuter rail system became one of the most efficient in the nation, though it suffered like many others with the rise of the automobile. Regardless of how much it withered in the mid century, the bones of Boston’s rail network were durable, and the system was gradually completely electrified beginning in the 70s.
 

bigeman312

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2012
Messages
1,667
Reaction score
330
All borders and entry ports of the United States were closed to all non-residents on March 19, 2020, with returning citizens and residents being required to self-isolate. Since April 10, all US citizens returning from overseas must go into two weeks of managed isolation.

A four-level alert level system was introduced on March 21 to manage the outbreak within the United States. The Alert Level was initially set at Level 2, but was subsequently raised to Level 3 on the afternoon of March 23. Beginning on March 25, the Alert Level was moved to Level 4, putting the country into a nationwide lockdown. The Alert Level was moved back down to Level 3 on April 27, partially lifting some lockdown restrictions, and down to Level 2 on May 13, lifting the rest of the lockdown restrictions while maintaining physical distancing and gathering size limits. The country moved down to Level 1 on June 8, removing all remaining restrictions except border controls.

On August 11, four cases of COVID-19 from an unknown source were reported in New York City, the first from an unknown source in 102 days. At noon the following day, the Tri-State Area (NY, NJ, CT) moved up to alert level 3, while the rest of the country was moved to level 2. On August 30 at 11:59 pm, the Tri-State Area moved down to "Alert Level 2.5," a modified version of Alert Level 2 with limitations on public gatherings, funerals, and weddings. On September 23 at 11:59 pm, the Tri-State Area moved down to Alert Level 2, after the rest of the United States moved to Alert Level 1 on September 21 at 11:59pm. On October 7, the Tri-State Area also moved down to level 1.

The United States' approach to the pandemic has been widely praised internationally for its quick and tough action over the virus.

On April 1 the Government set up an Infrastructure Industry Reference Group to seek out 'shovel-ready' infrastructure projects to reduce the economic impact of COVID-19. Local government responded with proposals over the following weeks.

Domestic travel and tourism hit an all-time high in summer 2020, while international travel is severely curtailed. Boston saw its popularity skyrocket as a destination for domestic travelers in the summer of 2020. Hotels, museums, the MBTA, and Fenway Park saw record patronage throughout the summer of 2020, and state revenues exceeded previous estimates.

On August 9, 2020, the MassDOT Board of Directors and the MBTA Fiscal & Management Control Board voted to ‘support advancing the Blue Line Extension Project (“BLX Project”) and seek Federal Transit Administration "FTA" review by the Infrastructure Industry Reference Group and approval of the BLX Project to Kenmore via Charles/MGH'. The first federal funds for the project are expected in October 2021, after which the design-build contract will be awarded. Construction is expected to begin in 2022, with all stations open by December 2026.
 

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
2,345
Reaction score
1,404
North and South Stations were connected by a cut and cover rail link during the peaceful 1910s during a major construction effort. Boston’s commuter rail system became one of the most efficient in the nation, though it suffered like many others with the rise of the automobile. Regardless of how much it withered in the mid century, the bones of Boston’s rail network were durable, and the system was gradually completely electrified beginning in the 70s.
That's a good one. Pre WW-I, there were some serious proposals for tunnel alignments, and also at least one for an elevated rail connector on the same location as (what was to become) the Central Artery expressway. But after that, two world wars plus the Great Depression between them sidelined further work on a N-S connector.

Two alternative locations for proposed N-S tunnels, pre WW-1:

 
Last edited:

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
5,078
Reaction score
1,637
Its been mentioned on AB before but it is fun to think about an alt early 20th Century where what is now Hanscom or even Squantum became the major airport.
Much higher property values in Eastie and lower values in Lexington relative to their OTL baselines, for two.
 

Scott

Active Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
798
Reaction score
204
^But only in an Alt history that includes the harbor cleanup.
 

DominusNovus

Active Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2010
Messages
920
Reaction score
56
Was just chatting with the in-laws about the cost of buying anything on Martha's Vineyard, and it would be quite interesting to see what Martha's vineyard would be like if they ever built the bridge proposed in the 1960s.
 

Tom Nevers

New member
Joined
Jul 17, 2020
Messages
73
Reaction score
109
Was just chatting with the in-laws about the cost of buying anything on Martha's Vineyard, and it would be quite interesting to see what Martha's vineyard would be like if they ever built the bridge proposed in the 1960s.
Sanibel north?
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,845
Reaction score
3,340
Was just chatting with the in-laws about the cost of buying anything on Martha's Vineyard, and it would be quite interesting to see what Martha's vineyard would be like if they ever built the bridge proposed in the 1960s.
1966:



Prolly would've all-blowed-up the west side of Downtown Falmouth to extend the MA 28 expressway to Woods Hole for this thing, too. And widened the everloving shit out of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Rd. across the island to make it a turnpike-grade extension of the mainline. Then built a wide-ass bridge onto Chappaquiddick and done the same add-a-lane destructing to Chappaquiddick Rd. to make it a state highway all the way to East Beach.
 
Last edited:

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,845
Reaction score
3,340
At least for me, the image doesn't come through.
1966 newspaper clip about the Vineyard getting the vapours over the leaked proposal. It was stuffed back in Pandora's Box just as quickly as it leaked out given the ferocity of the pushback. Although it was only kinda half-assed proposed in the first place as a spite cudgel over the then-newish Steamship Authority's rate-setting powers.
 

F-Line to Dudley

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2010
Messages
7,845
Reaction score
3,340
The motivations behind this proposal were kind of wild. The ferries used to all be under the monopoly thumb of NYNH&H Railroad and its numerous shell companies, passed down from the Old Colony RR which ran the steamships between Woods Hole and their short-lived narrow gauge line on the Vineyard. The New Haven, after taking control, bought out every competing steamship carrier for monopoly power...part of its extremely ill-advised drunken spending spree around WWI that crashed the company hard when the bubble burst.

Ferry tix end up perennially pricey to the Islands as a result of the lack of competition...then the onerous fed oversight that came with the parent co. being a railroad. But the Vineyard/Nantucket folk *like* the high rates because it keeps the unwashed masses from vacationing there. Fast-forward a few trips into bankruptcy by the New Haven and threats to simply shutter all ferries if the state didn't subsidize, cutting off the Islands completely. First incarnation of the Steamship Authority gets formed to cut them subsidy checks...then the state outright buys the ferries and makes them a fully public transit (pre-dating by about 10 years the exact same public sequence with ex-NYNH&H commuter rail).

Vineyard ferries as public service? But still costing a fee--to the STATE--to ride??? This was apparently viewed as TYRANNY by business interests on the mainland and Cape. So a loud but scattered business lobby attached itself to an "automobile" political action committee of lawyers who argued that free-dumbs were being repressed if God's favored car owners weren't allowed unfettered access to the Islands. To counter the warcrime of the state collecting a self-regulated ferry fare, they proposed...uhh...a publicly-built toll bridge? With revenues collected by the state? Because free-dumb! And they apparently had enough PR to get Gov. Volpe to comment on the odds of it being raised for a study.

The Vineyarders wanted no part of this. Hell, they were already mad that ferry rates weren't tracking upwards with the rate of inflation and that the crowds of unwashed plebes were growing larger each summer. They longed for the days of monopolists charging I.D.G.A.F.-level ticket prices to thin out the herds. And thus a mighty scream of coded language about "island heritage" burst forth to beat back the invaders...and so on.

Like...just wild amounts of entitlement on both sides, pro and con. And everyone expecting some other poor schlub to pay for it. And then the whole backstory about how the ferries themselves were the byproduct of RR robber barrons with a terminal gambling addiction on Wall Street who had to be bailed out by the state...only for the state to be both sides' punching bag.

I almost wonder if they just shoulda built the damn bridge on a lark. If only because the miserable people on both sides kinda deserved each other after the specific classist ways the pros/cons got argued. Just make it a one-way.
 
Last edited:

DBM

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2012
Messages
1,008
Reaction score
278
The motivations behind this proposal were kind of wild. The ferries used to all be under the monopoly thumb of NYNH&H Railroad and its numerous shell companies, passed down from the Old Colony RR which ran the steamships between Woods Hole and their short-lived narrow gauge line on the Vineyard. The New Haven, after taking control, bought out every competing steamship carrier for monopoly power...part of its extremely ill-advised drunken spending spree around WWI that crashed the company hard when the bubble burst.

Ferry tix end up perennially pricey to the Islands as a result of the lack of competition...then the onerous fed oversight that came with the parent co. being a railroad. But the Vineyard/Nantucket folk *like* the high rates because it keeps the unwashed masses from vacationing there. Fast-forward a few trips into bankruptcy by the New Haven and threats to simply shutter all ferries if the state didn't subsidize, cutting off the Islands completely. First incarnation of the Steamship Authority gets formed to cut them subsidy checks...then the state outright buys the ferries and makes them a fully public transit (pre-dating by about 10 years the exact same public sequence with ex-NYNH&H commuter rail).

Vineyard ferries as public service? But still costing a fee--to the STATE--to ride??? This was apparently viewed as TYRANNY by business interests on the mainland and Cape. So a loud but scattered business lobby attached itself to an "automobile" political action committee of lawyers who argued that free-dumbs were being repressed if God's favored car owners weren't allowed unfettered access to the Islands. To counter the warcrime of the state collecting a self-regulated ferry fare, they proposed...uhh...a publicly-built toll bridge? With revenues collected by the state? Because free-dumb! And they apparently had enough PR to get Gov. Volpe to comment on the odds of it being raised for a study.

The Vineyarders wanted no part of this. Hell, they were already mad that ferry rates weren't tracking upwards with the rate of inflation and that the crowds of unwashed plebes were growing larger each summer. They longed for the days of monopolists charging I.D.G.A.F.-level ticket prices to thin out the herds. And thus a mighty scream of coded language about "island heritage" burst forth to beat back the invaders...and so on.

Like...just wild amounts of entitlement on both sides, pro and con. And everyone expecting some other poor schlub to pay for it. And then the whole backstory about how the ferries themselves were the byproduct of RR robber barrons with a terminal gambling addiction on Wall Street who had to be bailed out by the state...only for the state to be both sides' punching bag.

I almost wonder if they just shoulda built the damn bridge on a lark. If only because the miserable people on both sides kinda deserved each other after the specific classist ways the pros/cons got argued. Just make it a one-way.
Great encapsulation. Even the shortest possible span, from Woods Hole to the Tisbury headlands, still would've necessitated a 4.25-mile structure--one traversing a waterway notoriously buffeted by fogs, gale-force winds, nor'easters, etc., etc. Combine that with the nation's reprehensibly lax attitudes towards drunk driving at the time, shake with "alcohol = therapy" culture of New England WASPs, stir-in the usual levels of bingeing occasioned by vacationers... and you would've had the perfect recipe for levels of auto-induced carnage that not even a young(ish) Ralph Nader could've conjured in his most morbid fantasy?

On this note, recalling that Newport didn't get its bridge until 1969 (!!), I found this wonderfully detailed essay on its historical background, combined with lots of fascinating engineering details.

And... what's this? It would've been part of a proposed I-895 ring highway, to balance off the I-295 belt? Fascinating. 138, from Route 1 to I-95 at least, has always struck me as a flawed state highway--certain segments perfectly engineered for the volumes it handles, others woefully inadequate. But it's such a picturesque area, so ultimately I have to think that it was for the best the project got scuttled.
 

NoShJFK

New member
Joined
Apr 18, 2021
Messages
79
Reaction score
61
I think the dynamics of the 1980's would have been different if JFK/RFK had had a 16 year run. The country wouldn't have swung so far right and Reagan wouldn't have been elected. The white working class bloc that elected Reagan would have stayed more Democrat.
I think the more likely outcome of an 8 year JFK administration would’ve been RFK winning election around 76.

They were incredibly shrewd politically and they would’ve been aware that even with JFK likely leaving office with astronomically high approvals pretty everywhere but the Deep South - the whole turning the Presidency into a nepotistic item would’ve led them to back off in 68 and allow JFK’s VP to run (either LBJ or if he was replaced in 64 then Sanford or Smathers). Bobby runs for the Senate in 68 in NY. He runs for POTUS the next time the Presidency is “open” or an incumbent GOP President is unpopular. That likely would’ve fell into a window as early as 72 (RFK would be 47) or as late as 80 (RFK would be 55)

To your point: I absolutely agree that the “Reagan revolution” wouldn’t have happened ie. the country wouldn’t have swung right as a reaction to the malaise of the Carter years amongst other reasons. In fact I think the popularity of two separate Kennedy generations would’ve totally realigned the politcal map that we know today because of what you said: the white working class males would’ve stayed Democrat for the most part.

I don’t think a single moment in this nations history (Post civil war) has caused such a consequential negative chain reaction as the assasination did. Vietnam, MLK, RFK, 68 Riots, Watergate, energy crisis, Iran hostage crisis, the greedy 80’s, Reagonomics destroying the middle class. Just SO MUCH could have been different.
 
Last edited:

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
2,345
Reaction score
1,404
I fully agree with you on this ^. I was a teenager in the 1960s, and 19 in 1969. I could literally see the country going downhill after JFK's assassination, and the black hole that the Vietnam War sucked the spirit of the country into. But I'm still hopeful for the US and know that we can accomplish great things in the future.
 

Top