Commonwealth Avenue (Boston)

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Commonwealth Avenue
Boston Commonwealth Avenue.jpg
Commonwealth Avenue in 2006
Length11.0 mi [1] (17.7 km)
West endMA Route 30.svg Route 30 in Auburndale
Major
junctions
MA Route 16.svg Route 16 in West Newton
US 20.svg US 20 in Allston
ToArlington Street in Back Bay
NorthMarlborough Street (Back Bay)
South Newbury Street (Back Bay)
Construction in Back Bay (1870) with the two sides of Commonwealth Avenue flanking the tree-lined Mall. 1870 BackBay July4 map byFFuchs JohnWeik detail.png
Construction in Back Bay (1870) with the two sides of Commonwealth Avenue flanking the tree-lined Mall.

Commonwealth Avenue (colloquially referred to as Comm Ave by locals) is a major street in the cities of Boston and Newton, Massachusetts. It begins at the western edge of the Boston Public Garden, and continues west through the neighborhoods of the Back Bay, Kenmore Square, Boston University, Allston, Brighton and Chestnut Hill. It continues as part of Route 30 through Newton until it crosses the Charles River at the border of the town of Weston.

Contents

Description

Often compared to Georges-Eugène Haussmann's Paris boulevards, Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay is a parkway divided at center by a wide grassy mall. This greenway, called Commonwealth Avenue Mall, is punctuated with statuary and memorials, and forms the narrowest "link" in the Emerald Necklace. It connects the Public Garden to the Fens.

Where Commonwealth Avenue reaches Kenmore Square, the MBTA Green Line B branch rises above ground and dominates the center of the roadway through the campus of Boston University and the neighborhoods of Allston, Brighton and Chestnut Hill to the city of Newton and the Commonwealth Avenue Historic District. The section in Newton is made up of two roadways separated by a grassy median lined with trees. The south side of the roadway contains the main, two-lane east-west roadway, with a one-way, westbound "carriage road" providing local access on the north side of the median.

The linear 1.5 miles (2.4 km) stretch of Commonwealth Avenue between Kenmore Square and Packard's Corner (where Brighton Avenue maintains a straight continuum and Commonwealth Avenue splits off) is well known to be Boston University territory. Boston University owns much of the property along and around this part of Commonwealth Avenue and either rents it out or uses it for its own purposes. This 1.5-mile stretch is the most central route to commuting around Boston University's main campus, also known as the Charles River Campus, and is frequented by pedestrians, cars, motorcycles, vespas, bikes, skateboards, scooters, both the inbound and outbound MBTA Green Line B branch trains (running above ground), both the inbound and outbound MBTA #57 & #57A buses, the Boston University Shuttle, charter buses, and trucks alike. Walking from one end (Kenmore Square) to the other end (Packard's Corner) or vice versa takes about 25–35 minutes. There are nine MBTA Green Line B branch stops between Kenmore Square and Packard's Corner (inclusive) within these 1.5 miles and they are very commonly used for transportation from one end of campus to the other, and beyond. Moving farther from the city and closer to the outskirts and the suburbs, the Kenmore Square stop is followed by Blandford Street, Boston University East, Boston University Central, Boston University West, St. Paul Street, Pleasant Street, Babcock Street, and Packard's Corner. Together, these nine stops are renowned for representing Boston University's presence in and around this 1.5-mile stretch of Commonwealth Avenue. In addition, a majority of the BU student body, which consists of approximately 33,000 enrolled undergraduate and graduate students, [2] resides alongside these stops, creating a particular neighborhood that identifies this area.

History

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall was designed by Arthur Delevan Gilman. [3] Frederick Law Olmsted designed the Newton portion of Commonwealth Avenue and included the parkway as part of the Emerald Necklace park system. The first statue on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall was erected in 1865 at Arlington Street. [4]

The Newton end of the roadway was constructed in 1895 with a line of the Middlesex and Boston Street Railway in the median. Streetcar service was cut back to its present terminus at the Boston border in 1930 and buses last ran on Commonwealth Avenue in 1976. An amusement park and ballroom known as Norumbega Park was built at the end of the line on the Charles River in 1897 to increase streetcar patronage. [5] The eastern half of the Newton section of the road is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Commonwealth Avenue Historic District. The mall that includes the landscape features, monuments, street furniture and fences that are bounded by Kenmore Street, Arlington Street and Commonwealth Avenue was designated as a Boston Landmark by the Boston Landmarks Commission in 1978.

The addition of protected bike lanes between the BU Bridge and Packards Corner in 2020 resulted in a tripling of bikeshare usage along that segment. [6]

Statuary

Starting at the Public Garden and going westward, the following statues can be seen on the mall:

Related Research Articles

Kenmore station Boston, Massachusetts light rail station

Kenmore is a light rail station on the MBTA Green Line, located under Kenmore Square in the Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. The station opened on October 23, 1932 as a one-station extension of the Boylston Street subway to relieve congestion in the square. Kenmore is the primary station for passengers wishing to visit Fenway Park, located one block away.

Route 9 is a 135.310-mile-long (217.760 km) major east–west state highway in Massachusetts. Along with U.S. Route 20, Route 2, and Interstate 90, Route 9 is one of the major east–west routes of Massachusetts. The western terminus is near the center of the city of Pittsfield. After winding through the small towns along the passes of the Berkshire Mountains, it crosses the college towns of the Pioneer Valley and then south of the Quabbin Reservoir and the rural areas of western Worcester County. Entering the city of Worcester from the southwest corner of the city, it passes through the center of the city and forms the major commercial thoroughfare through the MetroWest suburbs of Boston, parallel to the Massachusetts Turnpike. Crossing the Route 128 freeway circling Boston, it passes through the inner suburbs of Newton and Brookline along Boylston Street, and enters Boston on Huntington Avenue, before reaching its eastern terminus at Copley Square.

Fenway–Kenmore Neighborhood in Boston in Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Fenway–Kenmore is an officially recognized neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. While it is considered one neighborhood for administrative purposes, it is composed of numerous distinct sections that, in casual conversation, are almost always referred to as "Fenway", "the Fenway", "Kenmore Square", or "Kenmore". Furthermore, the Fenway neighborhood is divided into two sub-neighborhoods commonly referred to as East Fenway/Symphony and West Fenway.

Allston Neighborhood in Suffolk, Massachusetts, United States

Allston is an officially recognized neighborhood within the City of Boston, Massachusetts, United States. It was named after the American painter and poet Washington Allston. It comprises the land covered by the zip code 02134. For the most part, Allston is administered collectively with the adjacent neighborhood of Brighton. The two are often referred to together as "Allston–Brighton." Boston Police Department District D-14 covers the Allston-Brighton area and a Boston Fire Department Allston station is located in Union Square which houses Engine 41 and Ladder 14. Engine 41 is nicknamed "The Bull" to commemorate the historic stockyards of Allston.

Kenmore Square

Kenmore Square is a square in Boston, Massachusetts, United States, consisting of the intersection of several main avenues as well as several other cross streets, and Kenmore station, an MBTA subway stop. Kenmore Square is close to or abuts Boston University and Fenway Park, and it features Lansdowne Street, a center of Boston nightlife, and the Citgo sign. It is also the eastern terminus of U.S. Route 20, the longest U.S. Highway.

Auburndale, Massachusetts Village in Massachusetts, United States

Auburndale, sometimes nicknamed the Dale by residents, is one of the thirteen villages within the city of Newton in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. It lies at the western end of Newton near the intersection of interstate highways 90 and 95. It is bisected by the Massachusetts Turnpike. Auburndale is surrounded by three other Newton villages as well as the city of Waltham and the Charles River. Auburndale is the home of Williams and Burr elementary schools, as well as Lasell College. Auburndale Square is the location of the Plummer Memorial Library, which is run by the Auburndale Community Library and no longer affiliated with the Newton Free Library, the Turtle Lane Playhouse, and many small businesses.

Cleveland Circle, an area of Boston, Massachusetts, is located in Boston's Brighton neighborhood, and more specifically the Aberdeen section of Brighton, in very close proximity to Brookline and Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, at the intersection of Beacon Street and Chestnut Hill Avenue.

MBTA bus

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority operates 170 bus routes in the Greater Boston area, many of which were formerly part of a large streetcar system. Some routes are for local transport within the city; others bring passengers from surrounding areas to stops on the MBTA Commuter Rail or subway lines. The MBTA has a policy objective to provide transit service within walking distance for all residents living in areas with population densities greater than 5,000 inhabitants per square mile (1,900/km2) within the MBTA's service district. Much of this service is provided by bus.

Massachusetts Avenue (metropolitan Boston)

Massachusetts Avenue is a major thoroughfare in Boston, Massachusetts, and several cities and towns northwest of Boston. According to Boston magazine, "Its 16 miles of blacktop run from gritty industrial zones to verdant suburbia, passing gentrified brownstones, college campuses and bustling commercial strips."

The Middlesex and Boston Street Railway (M&B) was a streetcar and later bus company in the area west of Boston, Massachusetts. Streetcars last ran in 1930, and in 1972 the company's operations were merged into the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA).

Green Line B branch Boston Massachusetts subway line

The B branch, also called the Commonwealth Avenue branch or Boston College branch, is a branch of the MBTA Green Line light rail system which operates on Commonwealth Avenue west of downtown Boston, Massachusetts. One of four branches of the Green Line, the B branch runs from Boston College station down the median of Commonwealth Avenue to Blandford Street. There, it enters Blandford Street portal into Kenmore station, where it merges with the C and D branches. The combined services run into the Boylston Street subway and Tremont Street subway to downtown Boston. As of 2016, B branch service terminates at Park Street, but after the Green Line Extension is completed, the terminus will be extended back to Government Center as it had before 2014. Unlike the other branches, the B branch runs solely through the city limits of Boston.

Green Line A branch Former streetcar line in Boston, Newton, and Watertown, Massachusetts

The A branch or Watertown Line was a streetcar line in the Boston, Massachusetts, area, operating as a branch of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green Line. The line ran from Watertown through Newton Corner, Brighton, and Allston to Kenmore Square, then used the Boylston Street subway and Tremont Street subway to reach Park Street station.

Beacon Street

Beacon Street is a major thoroughfare in Boston, Massachusetts and its western suburbs Brookline and Newton. It passes through many of Boston's central and western neighborhoods, including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, Fenway–Kenmore, the Boston University campus, Brighton, and Chestnut Hill.

St. Paul Street station (MBTA Green Line B branch) Boston MBTA subway station

St. Paul Street station is a light rail station on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) Green Line B branch in Boston, Massachusetts. The station is located in the median of Commonwealth Avenue at St. Paul Street, surrounded by the Boston University campus. St. Paul Street consists of two narrow side platforms, which serve the B branch's two tracks.

Babcock Street station MBTA subway station

Babcock Street is a light rail surface station on the MBTA Green Line B branch, located in the median of Commonwealth Avenue west of Babcock Street in Boston, Massachusetts. Babcock Street consists of two side platforms, which serve the B branch's two tracks. It was also served by the A branch until its 1969 discontinuance.

Packards Corner station Light rail station in Boston, Massachusetts

Packards Corner station is a light rail stop on the MBTA's Green Line B branch located at Packard's Corner - the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Brighton Avenue - in Allston, Boston, Massachusetts. The station is located in a median between the westbound travel lanes and frontage road of Commonwealth Avenue.

Boston University West station MBTA subway station

Boston University West is a station on the MBTA's Green Line B branch located in Boston, Massachusetts. The station is located on Commonwealth Avenue near Amory Street, just to the west of the BU Bridge. Boston University West consists of two side platforms, which serve the B branch's two tracks.

Boston University Central station MBTA subway station

Boston University Central is a surface-level light rail station on the MBTA Green Line B branch, located the center median of Commonwealth Avenue west of St. Marys Street in Boston, Massachusetts, surrounded by the Boston University campus. It consists of two side platforms, which serve the B branch's two tracks.

Newton Corner station Boston MBTA former subway station

Newton Corner was a streetcar and passenger rail station in the Newton Corner neighborhood of Newton, Massachusetts, located near where Washington Street crosses the Massachusetts Turnpike. The Newton Corner station, known simply as Newton for much of its lifetime, served commuters on the Worcester Line from 1834 to 1959. The trolley stop, located on the surface streets, served a number of routes beginning in 1898, including the Green Line A branch until 1969.

Ipswich Street line Former streetcar line in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts

The Ipswich Street line was a streetcar line in Boston and Brookline, Massachusetts. The line ran on Boylston Street and Ipswich Street in the Fenway–Kenmore neighborhood, and on Brookline Avenue through what is now the Longwood Medical Area to Brookline Village.

References

  1. Google (May 24, 2019). "Commonwealth Avenue" (Map). Google Maps . Google. Retrieved May 24, 2019.
  2. "Boston University". rankingsandreviews.com.
  3. Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay - Commonwealth Mall Archived 2007-03-11 at the Wayback Machine
  4. NABB - Comm Ave. Mall Statues: What's In A Name? Archived 2006-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  5. "Auburndale Community Association page on Norumbega Park". Archived from the original on 2007-06-29. Retrieved 2007-06-25.
  6. Karpinski, Elizabeth (July 3, 2021). "Estimating the Effect of Protected Bike Lanes on Bike-Share Ridership in Boston: a Case Study on Commonwealth Avenue". Case Studies on Transport Policy. 9 (3): 1313–1323. doi:10.1016/j.cstp.2021.06.015. ISSN   2213-624X.
  7. http://archive.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/06/17/a_fathers_sacrifice_a_sons_calling/
  8. "Leif Erikson statue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin". Shorpy.com (Dry Plate Glass Negative). The shores of Lake Michigan. c. 1899. Retrieved 19 August 2018.
  9. "Whitney, Anne"  . The Encyclopedia Americana (1920) via Wikisource.

Further reading