Today's Boston Globe, in an article about the rejuvenation of Dorchester Avenue, refers to Dot Ave as having "a centuries-old history as cowpath and trolleyway long before pedestrians had to tangle with buses and cars to cross the street". I hate to quibble, but the practice of labeling almost any historic street in the Boston area as a "cowpath" is misleading at best, and dead wrong at worst. Dorchester Avenue was built as a turnpike for wagon traffic--it is straight because that's the least expensive way to build a road, and investors in such projects prefer to keep costs down. The irony of course, is that people so often claim the crooked streets downtown were laid out on cowpaths. One of Dorchester's cow path was Adams Street, which led from the salt marshes along the Neponset where cows would graze. I know someone who remembers being told as a young boy how cattle would be driven over Meeting House Hill to the cattle markets in Brighton. In addition, if Dorchester Avenue were like many turnpikes, one would actually have to pay per head of cattle to drive them along the road. The last thing the turnpike proprietors wanted were traffic jams caused by herds of livestock. Adams Street is old enough to have previously been named the "Lower Road" in Dorchester, as opposed to the "Upper Road", which is present day Washington Street.
Dorchester Avenue, Boston, South Boston, and Dorchester, 1854; from 303 Congress Street to junction of Adams Street and 1172 Washington Street at Lower Mills; formerly from Federal Street Bridge to junction Adams Street and Washington Street at Lower Mills; shown as an unnamed avenue on plan dated 1811; formerly called Dorchester Turnpike and sometimes, though improperly, South Boston Turnpike, and the apart from dividing line between Boston and Dorchester to Federal Street Bridge called Turnpike Street; Turnpike Street from Federal State Bridge to dividing line between Boston and Dorchester named Dorchester Avenue, March 27, 1854; part in Dorchester laid out and located April, 1854; lines changed in neighborhoods of Crescent Avenue and Pond (now East Cottage) Street, September 8, 1865; name of part formerly Turnpike Street and Dorchester Avenue to dividing line between Boston and Dorchester changed to Federal Street in continuation of that street, February 13, 1866; same renamed Dorchester Avenue, March 1 1870; relocated from Commercial (now Freeport) Street to Adams Street, August 18, 1881; relocated from Field's Corner to the Lower Mills, May 12, 1884; extended over Federal Street Bridge and over a small portion of the former location of Federal Street (now in the grounds of the Boston Terminal Company along Fort Point Channel and over portions of the same to Summer Street, April 8, 1897, under chapter 516 of the Acts of 1896; portion between Summer Street and Congress Street laid out by decree of the Superior Court, filed March 19, 1897, under authority of Acts of 1896, chapter 535; named Dorchester Avenue, March 1, 1901; grade changed so that the way may be carried under the Shawmut Branch Railroad, Oct 12, 1907, be decree of the Superior Court, acting under authority of chapter 111 of the Revised Statutes and chapter 440, Acts of Legislature of 1902.