The Boston "what if" thread

fattony

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I think Kendall/East Cambridge if they move in. That's where most of the industrial tech is.

Also of note: Raytheon's security needs are not insignificant, which might keep them away from a truly urban site or turn an urban site into something like the new Volpe with grass and plazas on all sides.
Grass and plazas are not necessary for this type of security. Draper has as high of security as it gets and while their buildings aren't exactly paragons of urban design, they aren't actively hostile either. Their worst sin is the size of their parking garage. I think they probably have the most parking per employee of any employer in Cambridge.

I don't think RTN would come to the city because of commuting. I suspect 95% of the RTN HQ employees live in the burbs already and the CT crowd won't likely be looking to relocate into the dense city either.

A Raytheon+UTC headquarters would be a perfect fit for Cambridge Crossing, wouldn't surprise me at all if they end up there. Slightly lower rents, proximity to Kendall, transit/highway access, ability to build to suit.
I'm not sure I would describe Cambridge Crossing as a place with good highway access. Or good transit access for that matter. Assembly is better for both and I don't think CC nor Assembly is close enough to Kendall to matter.
 

jklo

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Raytheon will have to move Downtown eventually, but they can resist if they want for awhile. My experience is that they tend to have older workers who have a car. Plus, I'm not sure if 9/80 works if you have to rely on the MBTA :-D

UTC does have some offices in the Boston area it looks, mostly in the burbs.
 

Charlie_mta

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"what if" the Inner Belt Xway (I-695), SW Xway (I-95_, and NE Xway (Route 2) had been built? What would Boston, Cambridge and Somerville be like today. Would the traffic be any better?

The unbuilt Expressways are in yellow:

 

tysmith95

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"what if" the Inner Belt Xway (I-695), SW Xway (I-95_, and NE Xway (Route 2) had been built? What would Boston, Cambridge and Somerville be like today. Would the traffic be any better?

The unbuilt Expressways are in yellow:

I don't think traffic would be any better.

Boston is too dense for cars. The mid 20th century mindset that cars were the future has proven to be false.
 

fattony

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"what if" the Inner Belt Xway (I-695), SW Xway (I-95_, and NE Xway (Route 2) had been built? What would Boston, Cambridge and Somerville be like today. Would the traffic be any better?

The unbuilt Expressways are in yellow:

Let's assume that if Cambridge couldn't stop the interstate, that they also couldn't stop there being proper exits to Cambridge. (Have you ever noticed that the 90 and 93 exits "to Cambridge" actually just dump you into Boston and you have to take surface roads into Cambridge?)

I think Kendall Square would look (more) like an office park. It would have been built out faster, but at lower density because of parking. In short, it would be Alewife.

After losing Central Square, Harvard Square would have doubled-down as the urban center of Cambridge. What was left of Central would have increased poverty and social problems.

I think traffic would be bad, but not necessarily worse. I think the population of the urban core would be smaller than it is today because so many dense areas would have redeveloped to be more car-centric. Boston would have born less of the brunt of the millennial migration to urban life. I'm not saying none, just less. Boston today would be more like Seattle was pre-Amazon.
 

cadetcarl

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I think we'd see (even harsher) demarcation between being "inside the beltway" and outside. The Fenway, the South End, and East Cambridge/port would push their residential zoning all the way to the edges of the expressway and with everything to immediate outside would get a worse treatment than it does today. Think methadone mile is bad? Imagine it literally on the other side of a highway canyon away from the eyes of the city's wealthiest residents. Ditto, Central Square.

Eventually there'd be pressure to Big Dig the whole thing, probably starting with the section near the MFA because people with money matter more (cf. Dudley Square's missing Orange Line service), but by then the damage would be done.

In short, worse conditions than we already have in nearly every way. Of course traffic would be worse; that probably goes without saying.
 

Shepard

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Traffic would in fact be better, but only because there would be fewer residents and fewer jobs in a city strangled by highways and ramps in which nobody wants to live and work.
 

stick n move

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Im glad the belt highway didnt happen in Boston, but the part that turned into Melnea Cass would have been kinda nice to just continue on like that the full extent instead of the clearly unfinished leftover it is today. As of now theres only 1 cross street in the whole city (mass ave), which is a shitshow. Every other road leads to and from downtown.

If you look on the map not much would have had to change for it to happen. Melnea cass already exists, so do park dr, and ruggles, they would have just lined up better and been the same width. Theyre there today, they just arent as cohesive as a single street would have been. The area that built up later around Tremont would have just been built in slightly different spots than it was, to allow the straighter path. There wouldnt really be much change from today, the loop would just be much easier to do and less windy. Its already there to do, its just not a cohesive cross street. Would be nice imo.
 

Randomgear

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A BIG chunk of the Emerald Necklace would have dissapeared under the freeway. And if we had to Big Dig it it would never be able to revert to what it is today, because cars must take priority, just look at the rebuilt Casey Arborway at six and seven lanes because right-sizing at at four would be troublesome to people who drive.
 

cadetcarl

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Stick, I think that's probably never going to happen. A certain university might have something to say about a 4-6 lane boulevard cutting through it at this point.
 

JumboBuc

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What if Chelsea were annexed by Boston back in the early-90s when it went into receivership, as was considered at the time? What would Chelsea look like today if it were part of Boston? Would things be different?

I can't help but think that Chelsea-as-a-neighborhood-of-Boston would have spent that last almost-30 years receiving much more attention and resources than it has as its own stand-alone city.
 

goody

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"what if" the Inner Belt Xway (I-695), SW Xway (I-95_, and NE Xway (Route 2) had been built? What would Boston, Cambridge and Somerville be like today. Would the traffic be any better?

The unbuilt Expressways are in yellow:

What if this highway scheme failed but was replaced with a transit line and park, not dissimilar to the orange line on its current path.
 

fattony

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What if this highway scheme failed but was replaced with a transit line and park, not dissimilar to the orange line on its current path.
I'm not sure a park would be needed for most of it. It all depends on if the streets would be wide enough for cut and cover. Much like the RLX to Alewife, probably deep bore would be the way to go to preserve the urban environment above and duck below all the existing infrastructure. No need for a linear park as the surface would not have been disrupted.

As for the effects - the transit line would directly connect major employment centers like LMA and BU to existing housing in Camberville and Roxbury. East Somerville, Sulivan, and the South Bay would already be fully developed as mixed-use districts rather than lagging like they are today. Boston/Brookline/Camberville would have its much needed circumferential circulation. We would see less concentration of development in Downtown/Back Bay and much more along all the transit lines.

Perhaps North Station would be relocated north to where the CR lines intersect the "inner belt line" making a transit superstation. Probably near Sullivan, with the inner belt line heading up into Everett from there. GLX Somerville/Medford would have happened sooner.

The Big Dig would have happened differently too. Or possibly not at all. Its hard for me to wrap my brain around all the implications.
 

vanshnookenraggen

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What if this highway scheme failed but was replaced with a transit line and park, not dissimilar to the orange line on its current path.
Highways are terrible paths for transit and were only suggested in the past due to the high costs of ROW acquisition. Highways traditionally go around commercial centers while transit needs to go through them to work properly. Highways like this were also routed through areas where land was cheap. Transit is best served more high priced land since more people want to be there and thus more people will be using transit.
 

FK4

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I can't imagine a major highway going down Ruggles St.

Would the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum have been demolished for this plan to come to fruition?
Planning never got all that detailed, but there was going to either a tunnel or sunken highway at that point. Hence the darker shade of yellow on that stretch. There's lots of these maps on many other threads here... just have to look through the transit and design a better boston sections for highway plans, inner belt, i-695, cancelled highways etc. If you want to really go down the rabbithole, archive.org has tons of BRA and other urban planning documents with pics like this.
 

Charlie_mta

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I can't imagine a major highway going down Ruggles St.

Would the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum have been demolished for this plan to come to fruition?
No. The Inner Belt Xway would have been totally inside the Emerald Necklace park land and Muddy River at this location, replacing the natural Muddy River with a pair of concrete channels flanking the Inner Belt Xway tunnel. That was the last plan before the project was cancelled completely by Gov. Sargeant around 1970. The Museum School (associated with the Museum of Fine Arts) would have been wiped out by the Inner Belt Xway, but not the Gardner Museum.
 

goody

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Perhaps North Station would be relocated north to where the CR lines intersect the "inner belt line" making a transit superstation. Probably near Sullivan, with the inner belt line heading up into Everett from there. GLX Somerville/Medford would have happened sooner.

The Big Dig would have happened differently too. Or possibly not at all. Its hard for me to wrap my brain around all the implications.
Interesting, I sort of like the idea of north station pulling back to Sullivan. I also feel like the big dig would have been much more likely to have a north south rail link in it if we already had a ring. I also think there would have been much more development at Sullivan and Inner Belt.

While wouldn't be a fan of clearing historic urban fabric, a green belt could have also been great.
 

stick n move

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The old North Station was incredible. I hadnt even known about it until one day I looked it up and was blown away that that was demolished. Imagine if that was here today...
 

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