Tag Archives: Stacy Boulevard

Gloucester majestic Boulevard construction: public works bringing the plans to life

FAST STATS

Contractor: Newport, Nashua, NH, Brian McCabe is the Project Manager
Status: in progress
Progress April 2017: nearing finish line
Project start (historic): pre 1900
Modern project start: 1999
Funding Awarded: 2013

  • from State: $5,600,000 Seaport Advisory Council
  • from City: $1,120,000 + contingencies
  • Funding in place: 2015
  • Gloucester seawall grants over the last 18 years include: Cripple cove/ Robinsons landing; small sea wall by beacon marine and pirates lane; fort square; Stacy (Stage Fort through Blynman); plus emergency work on Blynman collapse

Bid Open and contract amount: 2/24/15 approx $7 million
Contract completion: on schedule, estimated spring 2017
Locations: Stacy Boulevard and Blynman
Priority: Top Level! Unique and exceptional project– Mayor’s Office considers seawall boulevard a priority necessity, for safety, a centuries infrastructure project with immeasurable quality of life benefits for residents and visitors and essential to economy
Temporary work site chain link fence: Required. The chain link fence is installed by the contractor to protect the work zone and define it better.
Tender house at Blynman and bridge: These are State not city/DPW purview. The new bridge house is temporary (thankfully). The entire bridge needs to be replaced and when it is a new tender’s house will be constructed. I will write more about the bridge house and Blynman in other posts.
Local jobs scroll below

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photo above: fencing subcontractor on a beautiful work site readying for railing. Railing required diamond coring like old granite quarrying. Stacy Boulevard December 2016. 

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photo caption: Railing! 2000 feet of new galvanized railing. (The replaced railing was not galvanized. DPW replaces railing: it’s simply a matter of funding.)

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photo caption: Alex Karp – GZA Field Engineer Boulevard construction. The GZA company acquired (David) Vine Associates. GZA is the design engineer for the boulevard project.  David Smith at GZA (formerly Vine) has worked with Gloucester since 1999. 

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photo caption: Gloucester’s DPW construction along the Boulevard

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photo caption: CAP STONE! It’s more than decorative. It has two exposed sides that need to be trimmed to look perfect. Mike Hale, Boulevard construction, November (of course note beard) 2016

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photo caption: Stacy Boulevard contruction capstone and harbor

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photo CAPtion!: Stacy Boulevard dazzling dizzying scope of ocean and capstone as far as the eye can see

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photo caption: Mike Hale with Brian McCabe, Project Manager, Newport construction, November 2016, Gloucester Boulevard

LOCAL JOBS

Along with the Mayor’s office and current administration, Gloucester’s DPW and Newport Construction work with subcontractors including local ones such as:

GZA – national with corporate headquarters in Norwood, MA – Engineering

Gloucester Transit Mix Concrete, Gloucester, MA,  – huge part of project!

Cape Ann Stone, Rockport, MA, Bruce Johnson (owner) – granite

MBT Electricians, Gloucester, MA –  electrical and lighting

Essex County Landscaping, Gloucester, MA, J D Aspesi (owner) – irrigation and sod

Anne Gilardi Johnson –  additional new gardens, site and landscape design for the Boulevard (building upon the successful Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Memorial)– Johnson , a Gloucester native and multi award winning landscape architect, was commissioned by the Fishermen’s Wive Memorial board back in 2000 to design the landscape for Morgan Faulds Pike bronze sculpture, dedicated August 2001. “A series of design plans, and finally a study model, was produced as part of an interactive process between the designer, sculptor, and the Gloucester Fishermen’s Wives Association.” Johnson is a member of the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (largest chapter of the national organization), “known for her design of urban spaces including parks, playgrounds, memorials and streetscapes in Boston,” Worcester, and Gloucester. Her award winning designs include Boston’s (James) Hayes and Childe Hassam Parks in the South End. Generous Gardeners is planting the new beds on the Boulevard: thousands of tulip and daffodil bulbs were planted by many volunteers last fall to bloom this spring!

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some prior posts:

April 2017 Part 3- Gloucester’s boulevard public works construction Part 3: compare high res plans from 1922 and 1923 with today

April 2017 Part 2: Boulevard Public Works stunner | Gloucester is an early client for the Harvard and Olmsted trained landscape designer, Thomas Warren Sears. His 1908 photos are a must see!

April 2017 nearing the finish line Part 1- 

September 12 2016- Stacy Boulevard construction update: historic Blynman the Cut Bridge project scope plans and engineering details

August 2016 

Gloucester’s boulevard public works construction Part 3: compare high res plans from 1922 and 1923 with today

Here are the original 1922 and 1923 plans from the Gloucester DPW archives for close inspection:

Gloucester MA DPW archives Proposed Sea Wall 19224 MB Gloucester MA DPW archives Western Avenue Highway 1923

The Gloucester Daily Times published a construction status for the Western Avenue Project on June 5, 1923. Necessary delays were explained and some of the work would not be ready for Gloucester’s tercentenary celebration. The column indicates that the bridge house would be moved across the street–which didn’t happen then, but is happening in 2017– and mentions the state’s involvement.

“Work on Sea Wall Completed”- June 5 1923 update

Work on the construction of the new Western avenue seawall as far as the state is concerned, is practically completed and the lighters which for several months past have afforded great interest in many spectators have been withdrawn from the job…

On the western end of the park, the wall which held up the little park known as Marine Park is being capped with a four-foot cement topping, to bring it level to and joined with the new wall just completed from that point easterly toward Morgan’s store

Although hopes had been held out that the entire boulevard could be completed in time for the celebration, doubts are expressed now if this can be brought to a conclusion because of the large amount of work to be done, such as filling in behind the wall just erected, and the laying out of the street. Before the street can be laid out, time must be allowed for the settling of the rock filling, thousands of tons of which are to be dumped behind the wall, and this, it is now believed by those in charge, will not be ready for surfacing until spring (1924) at the least.

The bridge-house and the small shed alongside of it are scheduled to be moved to the other side of the street so that an unobstructed view of the boulevard from The Tavern to…

 

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Boulevard Public Works stunner | Gloucester is an early client for the Harvard and Olmsted trained landscape designer Thomas Warren Sears. His 1908 photos are a must see!

 

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The Gloucester Daily Times published this image in 1923 with the photo caption: “Now Under Construction on the Southern Side of Western Avenue, this Project When Completed Will Give Gloucester one of the Finest Approaches of Any City on the Atlantic Seaboard.”  The meticulously hand drawn credit within the drawing itself caught my eye as much as the drawing: “Proposed Treatment of Waterfront, Gloucester, Mass. Thomas W. Sears Landscape Architect, Providence RI”. Thomas W. Sears was a remarkable 20th Century landscape designer. The modern Boulevard work completed in 2014-17 gracefully carries out and returns to the original dreams for the Western Avenue highway and park that are more than a century in the making.

 

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photo caption: Boulevard construction progress © Catherine Ryan, December 2016 

Thomas Warren Sears (1880-1966) preliminary designs for Gloucester’s future Boulevard

Thomas Warren Sears was born in 1880 in Brookline, Massachusetts, and grew up in this modest family abode at the corner of Beacon and Charles Street. This black and white house portrait was shot in 1897.

1897 Thomas William Sears the Sears family home Brookline corner of Beacon and charles streets

Here’s a Google street view photo for comparison today.

google earth brookline sears family home

 

After being ousted from the New York City parks department, the ‘father of American landscape design’, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903), launched his business a ten minute walk from the Sears family home.  The headquarters at 99 Warren Street was named “Fairsted” and was in operation until 1979 when it was declared a National Historic Site and transferred to the National Parks.

 

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photo caption: Frederick Law Olmsted Fairsted  © Jack Boucher, Library of Congress collection

Sears worked for the Olmsted Brothers immediately after receiving two degrees from Harvard– his BA in 1903 and his BS in 1906. (There may have been an earlier Brookline connection.) Rather quickly Sears left to set up his own firm: first in Providence, RI, when he did work for Gloucester’s Boulevard, and not long after in Philadelphia. In 1911 he gave a talk for the Proceedings of the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia 28 (April 1911):147-158., “The Functions of the Landscape Architect in Connection with the Improvement of a City” available online as part of an urban planning anthology compiled by John W. Reps, Professor Emeritus, Cornell University.  I wonder if he shared his Gloucester photographs as part of his talk?

“There are two main approaches to cities: (1) On water by boat, and (2) on land by railroad. Along both of these lines of approach land should be taken for public use, and for very different reasons. Take first the use of water fronts: Unless some provision is made for the public, the whole water front, whether it be river or harbor, may be usurped by commercial enterprise and the public deprived of ever seeing the water except when aboard a boat. In certain cases, as in New York, where the water front must of necessity be utilised for dockage, a combination of commercial and public use may be successfully employed. There the docks are owned by the city and leased by the steamship companies; in this way their appearance can be controlled. At present it is planned to build on the tops of these docks huge recreation parks which may be used by the public.”- 1911 Thomas W. Sears

Mike Hale’s contemporary perspective shares a similar philosophy with Sears:

“An effort has been made in this paper to show clearly that landscape architecture is utilitarian quite as much as esthetic; that whatever one is designing, whether it be a city plan or any of the elements in a city, the design should be governed by use as much as beauty.” – 1911 Thomas W. Sears

By 1917 Sears was commissioned regularly and had a long, full career including notable designs for the Reynolda estate now part of Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and the wildly influential outdoor amphitheater for Swarthmore College, the Scott Outdoor Auditorium. His work in Gloucester is rarely mentioned.

Since the Gloucester drawing was marked ‘Providence’, I knew the drawing was done long before the 1923 construction. I tentatively dated the schematic ca.1910. Thankfully Thomas Warren Sears was a photographer, too. Turns out that this image is a Sears’ photograph of a lovely Sears’ design. The glass negative is dated 1908 which squares with his professional career timeline.

 

thomas Warren Sears rendering and photograph aag title a perspective drawing for the area along what is now stacy boulevard

ALL NEW LED LIGHTS

One of the modern design elements is the welcome ornamentation of lights. They feel like they were always here because line is such an essential part of design and they add the vertical visual interest. When I saw the new light bases I thought of the line of trees in the Sears drawing. I love the mix of natural and formal design in his rendering, but am equally gobsmacked by the sweeping open vista. Both are sensitive approaches and part of the context of the Boulevard’s build.

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photo caption: animation emphasizing new lights, late November 2016, ©c. ryan

BEFORE THE BOULEVARD- Sears photos

Thomas Warren Sears photographed Western Avenue for his preparatory work. See the homes along the beach that were later removed for the construction of the Boulevard; distant vistas to the Surfside Hotel (built after Pavilion burned) and Stage Fort park; and Western Avenue street scenes looking east and west before the road was widened.

 

Thomas Warren Sears seawall and park area1908 Thomas Warren Sears looking west along the seawall

Thomas warren Sears glass negative houses along the beach later removed for the creation of Stacy Boulevard

More photos and Gloucester designs:

Read more

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

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