Tag Archives: Blynman Bridge

Walk this way: Gloucester’s stately Stacy Boulevard public works project is breathtaking and one for the ages! Part 1

This view will be changing imminently! Today’s Motif Monday is the work on the Boulevard.

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The marvelous engineering and construction for the boulevard is a HUGE story. In all the collective excitement to walk this way, let’s remember to take a moment to acknowledge this feat.

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Mike Hale, Gloucester’s Director of Public Services, was hired in July of 1999, the very same year that this ambitious boulevard infrastructure planning and funding search began for this project. It was funded in 2014.  That means the current project timeline spanned 4 Mayors, administration, staff and city councils. The construction has been exceptionally well managed and I predict it will be or should be nationally recognized with awards. I have been documenting the progress and in the coming days will post several tributes, contemporary views, historic photos and background to rev up anticipation and respect.

Coincidentally, April 16, 2017 will mark the 94th anniversary of an important piece of the boulevard’s construction.

On that day in history, Gloucester’s city council approved the purchase of two lots, the Grant and Low properties:

“Whereas it is the desire of the board of park commissioners of the city of Gloucester to take in fee by purchase or otherwise certain land in said Gloucester lying between Western Avenue and the sea,

“And whereas, the said board has estimated the expenses of acquiring the same to be $8000,

“It is hereby ordered that the sum of $8000 be and hereby is appropriated from the $90,000 Western Avenue act of 1922 to the board of park commissioners as provided by law for the purpose of acquiring and laying out as a public park such land as the said board of park commissioners consider desirable therefore, being the land as shown on a plan entitled ‘Proposed taking for highway and park purposes, Gloucester, Mass, dated April 16, 1923, John H. Griffin, City Engineer,’ having reference to that portion as shown on said plan as is proposed to be taken for park purposes.” I’ve added the bold emphasis to note the big vision of Western Avenue as a public park and extension of Stage Fort in 1923.

The significant original investment was tangible and long lasting, hallmarks of any successful public works project. Did the Boulevard improve the quality of life in Gloucester? It wasn’t easy. Houses and roads were moved.

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Photo caption: “A VIEW NOW OF THE PAST. Most of us are familiar with the Above View. it Shows the Dwellings which Once Lined the Western Avenue Waterfront Before Work was Started Constructing the New Boulevard.”

These photographs were published in August 1923 and retrieved from the Gloucester Daily Times microfiche reel at Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Library.

The caption below describes Kent Circle “where grand stand has been erected for the review of the parades” for Gloucester’s tercentenary celebration. 

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Awaiting full access in 2017 is a mere blip of an inconvenience when considering how fundamental the Boulevard is for Gloucester. Its benefits are priceless.

Tomorrow’s post BRINGING PLANS TO LIFE

Prior posts

evanescent pink fog

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7pm from where I was standing at the cut bridge and Stacy Boulevard (Western Avenue), 9/20/16

The weather had me stop and the special had us stay. Not a bad vista waiting for our ‘two for Tuesday’ buy-one-get-one-free pizzas from  Poseidon’s after a Magnolia soccer practice.

Stacy Boulevard construction update: historic Blynman the Cut Bridge

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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

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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.”

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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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Gordon Parks Gloucester photos Memorial Day 1943

Cat Ryan submits-

FSA/OWI photograph in the Library of Congress

Gordon Parks Gloucester photos Memorial Day 1943-

Gordon Parks, Gloucester Massachusetts. Memorial services for fishermen lost at sea.

Citizens gathered on the banks near the sea, May 1943.

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More Gordon Parks 1943 Memorial Day pictures click here

Beautiful Industry- Blynman Bridge

Note to boaters-  If you think it’s gonna be close, don’t chance it and try to sneak under.  I got a feeling it’s just not gonna be worth it to slam into one of those huge I beams head on with your vessel.  It will be ugly not to mention costly to repair and you’ll look like a complete tool to all the people looking over the railings to check out the pretty boats passing through.

Beautiful Industry- Blynman Canal Bridgehouse Controls

It’s unreal that this control panel is close to a hundred years old and still gets the job done.  I bet if it was replaced by some new equipment that the new equipment would break down every 5 years or so and have to be replaced.   They just don’t make stuff like they used to.

Blynman Canal Bridgehouse, originally uploaded by captjoe06.

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