The Boston "what if" thread

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,444
Reaction score
514
When theres clearly extremely high housing demand and extremely low supply and the city is in dire need of units, I dont understand why they cant just do something like this. Pave and layout a grid that connects to the surrounding streets and sell the lots. Give some parameters for materials, height...etc and let it fill in. It would fill in organically vs an Assembly masterplan, developers would be all over it, the city gets a huge chunk of housing online.
 

Attachments

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,444
Reaction score
514
You can align it around the existing buildings so you can fill in around the buildings that dont wanna sell or move, and then before you know it you have a “real”, dense neighborhood that ties into the old grid. Hell theyd add character to a new neighborhood. Were clearly thinking too small and building too slow. This wouldnt even be enough to make a big dent, because were so far in the hole, but its a great start.

Not being a masterplanned neighborhood is the key, as it would be a mix of different architects, ideas, materials, people, just like it is going to be one day anyways and just like neighborhoods are supposed to be built. I dont see the problem with laying out a grid that fits right into the existing grid. Do it at fort point too. Its going to fill in this way anyways, lets go... Were going wayyy too slow, but I think thats by design to make lots of money on real estate.
 

stefal

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
671
Reaction score
66
You can align it around the existing buildings so you can fill in around the buildings that dont wanna sell or move, and then before you know it you have a “real”, dense neighborhood that ties into the old grid. Hell theyd add character to a new neighborhood. Were clearly thinking too small and building too slow. This wouldnt even be enough to make a big dent, because were so far in the hole, but its a great start.

Not being a masterplanned neighborhood is the key, as it would be a mix of different architects, ideas, materials, people, just like it is going to be one day anyways and just like neighborhoods are supposed to be built. I dont see the problem with laying out a grid that fits right into the existing grid. Do it at fort point too. Its going to fill in this way anyways, lets go... Were going wayyy too slow, but I think thats by design to make lots of money on real estate.
I like the idea, and I've seen a few college theses that do exactly this. In fact, I think Yale used this place as a study for a possible Olympic-Village-turned-affordable-housing-neighborhood, with human scaled buildings, streets, and even canals. Though there are a few things to consider. I believe the Post Office is supposed to relocate to one of those plots, if that project ever takes off, IIRC. On top of that, you're dealing with dozens of landowners, agencies, and god-knows-whatelse in that gigantic swath of land. Something like this could possibly be phased out, though you wouldn't see the housing market react as we wish it would, and it might not be "complete" for decades this way...
 

goody

Active Member
Joined
Nov 2, 2006
Messages
105
Reaction score
18
Not being a masterplanned neighborhood is the key, as it would be a mix of different architects, ideas, materials, people, just like it is going to be one day anyways and just like neighborhoods are supposed to be built. I dont see the problem with laying out a grid that fits right into the existing grid. Do it at fort point too. Its going to fill in this way anyways, lets go... Were going wayyy too slow, but I think thats by design to make lots of money on real estate.
There are some really great examples of this type of planning in The Netherlands and I agree, I would love to see more of this. I think the issue in the American/Boston context is that the ground is privately owned and already developed.

https://www.theguardian.com/housing-network/2015/dec/15/almere-dutch-city-alternative-housing-custom-build

In The Netherlands the government owns much of the ground and the Dutch have a very sharp urban to agricultural gradient. The result is that the government has means and greenfield space directly next to urban areas which makes planning urban expansions a bit easier. That said there are similar efforts on some of the old industrial waterfronts, I think Java Island and Ijburg are two such examples.
 

Hubman

Active Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2016
Messages
648
Reaction score
6
What if the Charlestown Elevated had been built all the way north to Malden like it had been intended? Or put in a subway like the town lobbied for? Probably no Haymarket North, but I wonder how the feels of the neighborhoods it would have passed through would change.
 

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
84
When I was a kid back in the 1950's and 60's, I would ride the Charlestown el just for fun, standing behind the front window of the front car, looking out ahead. It was a fantastic ride, but the noisy elevated line cars would pass literally a few feet from the windows of the adjoining 2nd/3rd floor residences, due to the narrow streets of Charlestown. It was a blight on the community for sure, and there were many blighted properties along the "el". Obviously the neighborhoods benefited greatly from it's removal.
 

statler

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
7,760
Reaction score
112
Mentioned in another thread:

What if the Great Boston Fire of 1872 never happened?
 

odurandina

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 1, 2015
Messages
5,072
Reaction score
106
What if Boston ignored the nimby's and just built several (not a lot) of 420' apartment towers
built them all over the place.... Columbus Ctr, Fenway Ctr tower, Tremont Crossing 2, Dudley Sq,
1 Kenmore, 125 Lincoln St, ect like Seattle, Vancouver, Miami & Philly does--
Would there be blowback??
 

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,117
Reaction score
397
Mentioned in another thread:

What if the Great Boston Fire of 1872 never happened?
Our historic downtown would be that much more historic. The main streets in the financial district wouldn't have been widened. We'd probably still have an interesting mix of old and modern buildings, but there would probably still be a few pre-1870s buildings in the mix.
 

CSTH

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2009
Messages
1,811
Reaction score
13
Mentioned in another thread:

What if the Great Boston Fire of 1872 never happened?
Then the BRA would have knocked it all down 100 years later anyway, to build a convention center and / or a mall with abundant parking
 

statler

Senior Member
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
7,760
Reaction score
112
^^ That is probably sadly accurate. I wonder how much capital came into Boston in the late 1800's simply because we suddenly had a supply of 'modern', handsome stone buildings? Does that capital go elsewhere if we never lost our historic downtown?
 

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,117
Reaction score
397
Here's the burned district map from the 1870s next to the modern map. Slightly off-kilter but you can see the corresponding streets pretty clearly.

boston's burned district.jpg
Boston Burned District 2019.png
 

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,117
Reaction score
397
Then the BRA would have knocked it all down 100 years later anyway, to build a convention center and / or a mall with abundant parking
I doubt it. It was still an institutional district before the fire and probably wouldn’t have had a lot of “blight” by the mid-20th century. Certainly a lot of pre-1870 buildings would have been razed over the years, but I’d be surprised if the neighborhood was wholesale flattened and remade like the West End or Scollay Square.

I could see there being some big parking garages on the periphery and people walking to work rather than many people driving into the FiDi to park in garages within the neighborhood. Maybe there’d be a bunch of gerbil tubes...
 

stick n move

Senior Member
Joined
Oct 14, 2009
Messages
6,444
Reaction score
514
Imagine if they had gone much further filling in between the islands of the harbor. I played around with a couple different ways of connecting the many islands and think this is the best.

A long island extension off of Quincy adding huge amounts of developable land, then a channel for boat traffic, then Logan on its own island in the harbor. Im sure the neighbors would have been much happier with these flight paths. Also now a MASSIVE amount of downtown waterfront real estate is opened up in Eastie as well.

I know it wont happen now... but “what if” this had happened before, would it have been better or worse? How big would Bostons population be if the “long island”, eastie expansion, and new Logan island were part of Boston? I had made a render a while ago with a nice sydney harbor type bridge crossing from southie to eastie to allow walking/biking/transit/cars over the harbor vs the ted williams tunnel and with logan out in the harbor it would have been possible... and beautiful. Maybe even a Boston verazanno bridge from logan to eastie too with other bridges connecting to long island and quincy. Pretty cool to imagine.

 
Last edited:

stefal

Active Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2015
Messages
671
Reaction score
66
Made this a few years ago in Paint..similar ideas.. would've been nice

1574039344159.png
 

Charlie_mta

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 15, 2006
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
84
A logistical question: Where would the fill come from for that much area and depth? Millions and millions of cubic yards of fill would be needed.
 

George_Apley

Not a Brahmin
Staff member
Joined
Jan 22, 2012
Messages
4,117
Reaction score
397
A logistical question: Where would the fill come from for that much area and depth? Millions and millions of cubic yards of fill would be needed.
Chopping down Blue Hills, of course! [/s]
 

Top