Stacy Boulevard construction update: historic Blynman the Cut Bridge



Gordon Parks. May 1943. “Memorial services for fishermen lost at sea. Citizens gathered on teh banks near the sea.” photograph, Library of Congress FSA collection



Two hundred feet of canal gravity wall is being reconstructed, extending from the bridge tender’s house around where you see visible in the photographs. This section of sea wall was dry laid granite block. The ebb and flow of tides and wakes took an inevitable toll, pulling debris material–like migrating soil— out from behind the wall. Over time the blocks settled, sidewalks sagged, and ruptures framed views into hollow voids 15 feet deep. Weakened considerably, areas were cordoned off until funding (Seaport Advisory and Executive Office of Environmental Affairs) was secured. The bridge tender’s house is abandoned which is why there is a temporary structure across the street. The state will be rebuilding that at a later date; the control house and the bridge are MassDOT purview and “likely a number of years out until a final plan is done.”


Edward Hopper. Blynman Bridge. 1923. watercolor. Whitney Museum of American Art. See Edward Hopper All Around Gloucester ©Catherine Ryan


The new sea wall is the “mack daddy of building construction” befitting such an iconic locale. DPW is reusing the same gorgeous rugged blocks and materials, but now there’s footing where there never was any. The historic granite face is tied to reinforced steel. There’s a concrete core wall. Mike Hale Director of Gloucester’s Department of Public Works said the City is mindful of retaining the aesthetics and history, pronouncing any new stone “modular, lego-like” build an anathema to the site and residents.

Thanks to DPW for forwarding these details with labeled drawings explaining the infrastructure behind what’s visible:









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