(photo courtesy of www.saralovering.com)
Sara Piaseczynski, who writes and photographs one of my favorite blogs, has embarked upon the Longfellow Bridge Project to document the views from the Longfellow Bridge every day for the next few months. In support of her endeavor, I will be periodically posting about the history of the bridge and of the Cambridge Street area, beginning with today's post on the predecessor of the Cambridge/Longfellow Bridge.
From the Record of Streets, Boston Street Laying-Out Department, (1910)
West Boston Bridge, Boston and Cambridge, 1792; from the foot of the Cambridge street in Boston to Main street in Cambridge; "The proprietors of West Boston bridge" incorporated by act approved by Governor Hancock, March 9, 1792; empowered to build a bridge and causeway from Boston, near the pest house, to Pelham's Island in Cambridge; the bridge and road controlled by the corporation extended from about the corner of South Russell Street in Boston to the corner of Main and Front streets in Cambridge (see Cambridge street); work on causeway commenced July 15, 1792; on wooden bridge, April 6, 1793; opened for public travel, November 23, 1793; authorized to collect tolls for forty years, bridge then to be turned over to the Commonwealth; must pay Harvard College 300 pounds per annum (for indigent scholars); June, 1793, charter extended for seventy years and Harvard College payment reduced to 200 pounds; sold to Hancock Free Bridge Corporation, July 1, 1846, under authority of an act passed March 26, 1846; closed between May 1 and Nov 21, 1854 when the bridge was entirely rebuilt; transferred to Cambridge by act passed in 1857; made free F eb 1, 1858; placed in charge of commissioners in May, 1871 (Act of 1870); sometimes called Longfellow bridge; the new Cambridge bridge in about the same location; the old bridge closed, October 19, 1899; during building of a new Cambridge bridge a temporary bridge was built; closed November 27, 1906; outward bound cars began running over the new bridge August 12, 1906; inward bound cars, November 27, 1906.
Note: the payment to Harvard College was instituted because Harvard had owned, either wholly or partially, the rights to the ferry business which operated between Boston and Cambridge prior to the construction of the West Boston Bridge in 1793.