Alewife Brook Parkway

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Alewife Brook Parkway
U.S. Route 3 markerRoute 2 markerRoute 16 marker
Alewife Brook Parkway Map.svg
Map of Middlesex County in eastern Massachusetts with Alewife Brook Parkway highlighted in red
Length 2.05 mi[1] (3.30 km)
South end US 3 / Route 2 / Route 16 / Concord Avenue in Cambridge
North end

Route 16 / Mystic Valley Parkway in Somerville

Alewife Brook Parkway
AlewifeBrookParkway at PowderHouseBlvd.jpg
The parkway at Powder House Boulevard in Somerville
Alewife Brook Parkway is located in Massachusetts
Alewife Brook Parkway
Alewife Brook Parkway is located in the US
Alewife Brook Parkway
Location Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts
Built 1908
Architect Charles Eliot; Olmsted Brothers
MPS Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston MPS
NRHP Reference # 04000249[2]
Added to NRHP March 18, 2004
Completion 1916

Alewife Brook Parkway is a short parkway in Cambridge and Somerville, Massachusetts. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It begins at Fresh Pond in Cambridge (linking to Fresh Pond Parkway via Concord Avenue), and heads north on the east bank of Alewife Brook, crossing into West Somerville and ending at the Mystic River on the Medford town line, where it becomes Mystic Valley Parkway. The entire length of Alewife Brook Parkway is designated as part of Massachusetts Route 16 (Route 16), while the southernmost sections are also designated as part of Route 2 and U.S. Route 3 (US 3). It is managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation responsible for bridge maintenance.

Route description[edit]

The southern terminus of the parkway is the westernmost of the two Fresh Pond rotaries, with Concord Avenue connecting the parkway to Fresh Pond Parkway at the eastern rotary. The road is designated Massachusetts Routes 2 (northbound) and 16 (eastbound), and US Route 3 (northbound). The parkway runs roughly north, skirting just east of the Alewife T station to a large intersection (formerly a rotary), where the limited access highway carrying Route 2 to the west begins. The parkway runs north from this intersection, paralleling just east of the course of Alewife Brook, which forms the western boundary of Cambridge with Arlington. The first major intersection is with Massachusetts Avenue, which carries Massachusetts Route 2A eastward toward Porter Square, and Routes 2A and 3 westward into Arlington. The parkway continues to parallel Alewife Brook as it heads north into Somerville. After crossing Broadway, the parkway passes through a rotary-like interchange with Powder House Boulevard. It then passes Dilboy Stadium, on the left, and reaches its northern terminus at a small rotary near where Alewife Brook empties into the Mystic River. There it meets the Mystic Valley Parkway, which runs from Arlington just to the west to Medford to the northeast. The Route 16 designation continues northeast. The parkway's total length is just over two miles (about three kilometers).


The parkway, with the surrounding Alewife Brook Reservation (115 acres (47 ha)), forms part of Boston's Metropolitan Park District, established in 1893. It was originally planned by landscape architect Charles Eliot as one section of a web of pleasure roads designed for their aesthetics. Nearby Alewife Brook was straightened and channelized between 1909 and 1912, and construction of the parkway was completed by 1916. Landscaping was performed by the famed Olmsted Brothers firm.[citation needed] Route 2 connected to Alewife Brook Parkway as a highway in the present right-of-way at some point before 1937.[3]

Along the southern end, Alewife Brook Parkway underwent further changes beginning in the late 1980s, including a new four lane causeway overpass spanning the Fitchburg line of the Commuter rail,[4][5] new dedicated shoulder turning-lanes for exiting and entering the shopping centers, enlarged roundabouts with obstructive center trees removed, new raised grassy medians down the center of the parkway, and new trees, light poles, and bike lanes integrated into the sidewalks. Some of the other amenities integrated in the new design include handicap ramps and stairs on the northbound side of the bridge leading to the Rindge Towers, new sidewalk access leading to the Alewife T station, Alewife Linear Park, bike trail adjacent to Jerry's Pond, and a dedicated road for large trucks to service the shopping areas by passing below the overpass.[6]

As traffic has grown over the past century, the original aesthetics of the parkway's southernmost sections have been largely lost. It is now the principal connector between Route 2 and the western suburbs, on the one hand, and downtown Cambridge and Boston on the other, and consequently carries a large volume of commuter traffic. The Alewife MBTA station is a prominent feature on the parkway, and there are shopping centers, parking lots, and office and apartment buildings lining the parkway between Alewife station and the southern terminus.

In media[edit]

In February 2010, CBS-television affiliate WBZ questioned whether the remaining 118 rotaries such as the ones featured at Alewife Brook Parkway and Fresh Pond Parkway should be scrapped across Massachusetts.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Executive Office of Transportation - Office of Transportation Planning Roads - June 2008
  2. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Palmer Jr., Thomas C. (1993-08-27). "Ground finally broken for $10.7m Alewife Brook bridge". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  5. ^ Rosenberg, Ronald (1990-04-22). "Panel Tables Bill To Scale Back Route 2 Project". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  6. ^ Staff, Globe (1989-07-01). "A CAMBRIDGE COMPROMISE". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-08-01. 
  7. ^ Wade, David (2010-02-18). "Curious Why Rotaries Still Exist In Massachusetts". Boston, MA. WBZ-TV. Archived from the original on 2010-02-21. Retrieved 2013-11-10. The day we were videotaping at the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge we saw one driver lean out his window and start yelling. 

External links[edit]

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