Fresh Pond Parkway
Fresh Pond Parkway-Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston
Fresh Pond Parkway, northbound
|Architect||Charles Eliot, Olmstead Brothers|
|MPS||Metropolitan Park System of Greater Boston MPS|
|NRHP reference #||04001429|
|Added to NRHP||January 5, 2005|
Fresh Pond Parkway is an historic park and parkway, found in the westernmost neighborhoods of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The parkway was built in 1899 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
Fresh Pond Parkway is a four-lane road (two lanes in each direction) stretching from Mount Auburn Street on its southern end to a rotary at Concord Avenue (formerly Cambridge and Concord Turnpike) and Alewife Brook Parkway to the north. Much of the parkway acts as eastern boundary for portions of the city's municipal Fresh Pond reservoir area and also serves to connect the reservoir to the Charles River Reservation.
The Fresh Pond Parkway begins at a large interchange with Mount Auburn Street, a major east-west road in western Cambridge, and Gerry's Landing Road, which serves as the connection between the parkway and Memorial Drive, Greenough Boulevard, and the Eliot Bridge over the Charles River. A median initially separates the north and southbound lanes, which gradually narrows to little more than a jersey barrier at the intersection with Brattle Street, about 0.25 miles (0.40 km) to the northwest. This section bisects Lowell Memorial Park, with the Elmwood estate the only residence on the east.
North of Brattle Street, the parkway has no median. In 0.4 miles (0.64 km) it reaches Huron Avenue, where Massachusetts Route 16 joins the roadway from the west. This section is residential on both sides. The entire southern portion of the parkway is canopied by mature trees, and has concrete sidewalks on each side, separate by a narrow green strip.
North of the Huron Avenue junction, the road turns northeast to skirt around Fresh Pond, crossing the former Watertown Branch Railroad right-of-way, and running for 0.5 miles (0.80 km) to a rotary with Concord Avenue. It remains residential on the east side, until Lexington Avenue, when that side becomes commercial. The west side is lined by the Fresh Pond Reservation, with southbound access to a public parking area (limited to city residents) and the facilities of the Cambridge public water supply. From the rotary it proceeds west about 0.2 miles (0.32 km) to its end at a larger rotary, where Concord Avenue continues west, and the Alewife Brook Parkway continues north, carrying all three numbered route designations. The south side of this section continues to be the Fresh Pond Reservation, and the north side is heavily commercialized.
A northbound parkway from the Charles River through western Cambridge was proposed by landscape designer Charles Eliot as early as 1892. Eliot, a Cambridge resident, had already assisted the city in laying out the Fresh Pond Reservation lands, and believed a parkway would provide improved access between the Charles River and the Middlesex Fells Reservation. In 1898 the Metropolitan Parks Commission, predecessor to the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) and today's Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), began acquiring land for the parkway with the purchase of Lowell Park, formerly a portion of the Elmwood estate. Land takings continued in 1899, and the section between Gerry's Landing and Huron Avenue was completed in 1900. The northern section was completed 1928-1930, following disputes between the MDC and the city over its route and funding. The connection of Gerry's Landing Road to Eliot Bridge, colloquially considered part of the parkway, was not completed until 1958.
In February 2010, CBS-television affiliate WBZ questioned whether the remaining 118 rotaries such as the ones featured at Fresh Pond Parkway and Alewife Brook Parkway should be scrapped across Massachusetts.
- National Park Service (2008-04-15). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
- "NRHP nomination for Fresh Pond Parkway". Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Retrieved 2017-09-29.
- Wade, David (2010-02-18). "Curious Why Rotaries Still Exist In Massachusetts". Boston, MA. WBZ-TV. Archived from the original on February 21, 2010. Retrieved 2010-02-19.
The day we were videotaping at the Fresh Pond rotary in Cambridge we saw one driver lean out his window and start yelling.
- Fresh Pond Parkway - Cambridge Massachusetts Before and after photos (PDF)