Storrow Drive

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For continuation of this roadway westward away from downtown Boston, see Soldiers Field Road
Storrow Drive
Storrow Drive.png
Maintained by DCR
Length 1.98 mi (3.19 km)
West end Route 2 / US 20 (continues as Soldiers Field Road)
Route 2A
East end Route 28(continues as Embankment Road)
Storrow Drive, Leverett Circle Tunnel

Storrow Drive is a major crosstown parkway in Boston, Massachusetts, running south and west from Leverett Circle along the Charles River.[1] It is restricted to cars; trucks and buses are not permitted on it. The road, legally known as James Jackson Storrow Memorial Drive, officially ends at its eastward junction with Route 28 (near Arlington Street) and continues as Embankment Road, part of Route 28.

Boston drivers use the route for quick access to downtown locations.[1] Westbound Storrow Drive has a junction with the Harvard Bridge (Route 2A, or Mass. Ave). It passes along the northern edge of Boston University until it reaches a partial junction with the Boston University Bridge (Route 2), where it becomes Soldiers Field Road.

Both Storrow Drive and Soldiers Field Road are maintained by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and are part of the parkway system interconnecting the Emerald Necklace in Boston and Brookline. Together with Memorial Drive and the Cambridge Parkway, Storrow Drive is also part of the Charles River Basin Historic District (listed in the National Register of Historic Places). Prior to 1989, Storrow Drive also carried the U.S. Route 1 designation. (U.S. Route 1 is now routed along Interstate 93).


The parkway is named for James J. Storrow, an investment banker who led a campaign to create the Charles River Basin and preserve and improve the riverbanks as a public park. He had never advocated a parkway beside the river, and his widow publicly opposed it.[2]

Traffic issues[edit]

Storrow Drive mid-afternoon

The road is notorious for speeding and aggressive driving because police enforcement along the road is difficult without a breakdown lane. Radio traffic reports have warned motorists about "ponding" on Storrow Drive, which occurs when snow and frozen ground prevent water from draining properly into storm drains.[3] The underpasses also commonly flood during heavy rains, sometimes stalling low-riding cars.[citation needed] Additional problems include narrow lanes and very limited visibility on short entrance ramps.

Concert parking[edit]

During some summer night concerts at the Hatch Shell, many drivers park their cars in the outbound lanes of Storrow Drive. The free concerts and fireworks displays attract 200,000 people, and many take advantage of the free parking.[1]

Low clearance[edit]

There are an abundance of signs giving road clearance height. Despite the signs, a truck or other large vehicle will periodically get wedged under a bridge, which causes traffic to back up for several miles. In one incident a truck full of scissors became stuck and spilled its cargo, causing over 30 cars to get flat tires — of which two got four flat tires — and the road was backed up well into the afternoon.[1] There is a 10 foot height limit.


Between 1958 and 1971, Storrow Drive was designated Massachusetts Route C9.[citation needed]

Early opposition[edit]

James Storrow had been instrumental in earlier projects along the Charles River, in particular the Charles River Dam. Additions to the Esplanade had been made during the 1930s only by omitting an important part of the project, a proposed highway from the Longfellow Bridge to the Cottage Farm (Boston University) Bridge, which had provoked tremendous protest.[4] After Helen Storrow, the wife of the now deceased James Storrow, supported a group opposed to the highway, it was dropped;[4] part of the funding was to have come from a million-dollar gift from her.[5] Soon after Helen Storrow's death in 1944, a new proposal for the construction of the highway was pushed through the Massachusetts Legislature. In spite of still strong opposition, and through some dubious parliamentary procedures, the bill approving construction of the highway and naming it after James Storrow was passed in 1949.[6]


Construction took place in the years 1950–1951. As part of the attempt to preserve park land, any land used by the highway had to be replaced by reclaiming new land along the shoreline.[7] Storrow Drive was officially opened in a ribbon cutting ceremony by Governor Paul A. Dever on 15 June 1951.[8]


The Storrow Drive Tunnel, through which Storrow Drive runs along the Esplanade just north of Clarendon, Berkeley and Arlington Streets, has been deteriorating since it was built in 1951. By mid-2007, the Department of Conservation and Recreation determined that repairing the tunnel may be impossible because it was not waterproofed when it was built, and damage in the intervening years has been significant. Consequently the tunnel may have to be rebuilt at a cost upward of $200 million, a project that would require closing critical sections of Storrow Drive to traffic.[9]

Despite the chaos this project would cause to drivers, it also could present an opportunity for the city to improve the area. For example, former Boston Mayor Thomas Menino proposed covering Storrow Drive near the pedestrian Arthur Fiedler Bridge, replacing the old overpass with a wide, ground-level park space that would better connect the green space of Boston's Public Garden with the Esplanade.[10]

Other plans for the road propose closing it to traffic on Sunday mornings in the summer, much as is done across the river on Memorial Drive in Cambridge. This would create a recreational area for walking, biking and roller blading on weekends, though this has been criticized as unnecessary due to the presence of the nearby Esplanade paths and the existing Memorial Drive road closure. Regardless, Storrow Drive east of Massachusetts Avenue is usually closed to traffic and open to pedestrians and cyclists during the Independence Day (July 4) celebration at the Esplanade.

Exit list[edit]

Exits on Storrow Drive are unnumbered. Mileposts are a continuation from Soldiers Field Road.

Mile Km Destinations Notes
Road continues as Soldiers Field Road
4.1 6.6 University Road – Boston University, Brookline Eastbound exit only.
To MA Route 2.svgUS 20.svg Route 2 / U.S. Route 20
5.0 8.0 Kenmore Square, Fenway Old alignment of U.S. Route 1.
5.1 8.2 MA Route 2A.svg Route 2A (Massachusetts Avenue) – Cambridge Westbound exit only.
6.0 9.7 MA Route 28.svg Route 28 South – Copley Square, Back Bay Official eastern terminus of Storrow Drive.
Road continues as Embankment Road / Route 28 North


  1. ^ a b c d Gershkoff, Ira; Richard Trachtman (2004). The Boston Driver's Handbook: Wild in the Streets: The Almost Post Big Dig Edition (3rd ed.). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. pp. 27–29. ISBN 0-306-81326-2. OCLC 53970660. 
  2. ^ Berg, FASLA, Shary Page (January 2007). "Cultural Landscape Report, The Esplanade, Boston, Massachusetts" (PDF). The Esplanade Association. p. 33. Retrieved 2009-05-03. [dead link]
  3. ^ Amsterdam, Dick; Nancy Parsons (2000). Morsels from the Better Mousetrap: Tips, Tricks and Tales About Corporate Communications for Small Businesses. Xlibris Corporation. p. 143. ISBN 0-7388-1674-4. OCLC 0738816744. 
  4. ^ a b Seasholes, Nancy S. (2003). Gaining Ground: A History of Landmaking in Boston. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-262-19494-5. OCLC 470179960. 
  5. ^ "Fight begins on $4,855,000 Basin Project", Boston Evening Transcript, March 6, 1929.
  6. ^ "Embankment Road approved by House in stormy session", The Boston Globe, April 29, 1949.
  7. ^ Massachusetts General Court Acts of 1949, Chap. 262
  8. ^ "Massachusetts Road Opened". The New York Times. 1951-06-16. Sports section, Page 13. Retrieved 2007-02-22. 
  9. ^ "Storrow Tunnel may need replacing". The Boston Globe. 2007-07-24. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  10. ^ "New vision over Storrow Drive". The Boston Globe. 2008-03-19. Retrieved 2008-05-05. 

External links[edit]

Browse numbered routes
Route 9 MA Route C9.svg Route 10

Coordinates: 42°21′08″N 71°05′19″W / 42.35222°N 71.08861°W / 42.35222; -71.08861