Saturday, December 27, 2014

Saturday in the Park in a Snowless Winter

Often by Christmas or New Year, here in New England, we would have snow on the ground, or at least frozen ponds.  However, this Christmas was relatively warm, having followed weeks of warm yet cloudless days. No snow or frozen ponds. Finally, on Christmas afternoon, the sun came out.  We took a brisk walk by Pleasure Bay.   

Today, though Saturday, I was heading to my office.  If I get off the train at Charles Street, I have the opportunity to pass through the park on my way.   In the morning sun, the Public Garden proved quite photogenic, even with bare trees, no snow, and an unfrozen lagoon.

That is perhaps the most wonderful aspect of this park - that it remains beautiful in any season!  Here are some photos of a Saturday in the Park, on a snowless winter's day.

Entering the park from Charles Street

The bare willows, weeping gracefully

Duck taking the ramp up to the island in the lagoon

Looking over the lagoon

Friday, December 26, 2014

Strolling by the Bay on Christmas Day

Christmas day found our family gathering with a bit of time between the opening of the presents and supper.  It had been an unusually warm Christmas Eve with rain and temperatures up in the 50s F (about 10 to 13 deg, C).  Christmas day started out warm but the rain ended by noon, so it seemed a good day to take an afternoon stroll and get some fresh air. 

Of all of us assembled, on Rosie and I were interested, and she was thinking out beyond City Point in Southie (South Boston), at Castle Island and Pleasure Bay.  Before the landfilling that connected Castle Island to the drumlin we now call South Boston, Pleasure Bay was just a channel between Boston Harbor and Dorchester Bay.

Over time, Pleasure Bay was enclosed by a causeway with two gated culvert connec-tions that allow the tide to enter and leave.  This causeway is also a pleasant walkway around the oval-shaped bay, separating it from Dorchester Bay.  It is now part of a state park.
When we arrived after 3 pm, we found the temperatures dropping and a stiff wind blowing over the bay.  For a day about 50 deg. F (10 deg. C), it felt like about 20 deg. F (-5 deg. C) when the wind blew right through my winter coat.  Still, the late afternoon sun hiding in and out of the clouds provided some wonderful photo opportunities.

We arrived greeted by this spectacular scene across the Bay.

With Pleasure Bay to our backs, we can view the monster cranes at the container port known as Conley Terminal

Another view across Pleasure Bay looking towards the sunset.

From the causeway, we can look across the bay to the Boston skyline.

Another view from the causeway looking east towards the treatment plant on Deer Island with the Atlantic Ocean beyond.

Approaching the pavilion that marks the midpoint of the causeway.  I stopped for this photo despite the blistering winds.

The pavilion bathed in the yellow light of a late winter afternoon.

This view shows the chop on Dorchester Bay.  The causeway separates the two bays.

Sunset over Dorchester

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Along the Charles, in the Late Fall

It was a beautiful, sunny day, despite the cold (about 4-45 deg. F or around 5 deg. C).  I ventured out to Watertown Square and rode back to "our fair city" (Cambridge) along the bike path.

Leaves float in a small
lagoon off the side
of the bike path.
To me, it seems we had a strange autumn.  The foliage came early in places, as we had dry weather from August into September.  But, it seems many trees have been more reluctant than normal when it comes to changing the color of their leaves.   Of course, the oaks are the curmudgeons of the forest, usually the last to drop the canopy.  But many other trees seem a bit late, too.  So, there are green trees surrounding bare trees.

Usually, around Halloween, the peak foliage is with us.  But, a week later, there's still a good bit of foliage remaining.  Never-theless, in the bright sunlight of midday, the trees of the riverbank put on a good show splendid in the deep hues their late fall foliage.

Bare trees,green trees, and fall foliage mix along the river bank.

Looking across the river to the Perkins School tower surrounded by an array of late fall color.

At the riverbend out in brighton.

Grand trees line the riverbank park.

Approaching Harvard Square, a line of golden foliage at JFK Park.

The Weeks  Footbbridge, framed in fall colors, connects the two halves of the Harvard University campus.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Newton Lower Falls Branch: Route of the "Ping Pong"

A new section of the Charles River path system opened recently, a rail-to-trail walkway following the route of what was once the Boston & Worcester Railroad's Newton Lower Falls Branch. This very short branch, a mere 1.2 miles long, branched off from the mainline at Riverside Station.  The river in Riverside is the Charles River, which meanders in all directions while forming the boundary between Newton and Wellesley, Massachusetts.

The Newton Lower Falls Branch followed the east bank of the Charles River,
only a bit over a mile east of the Boston & Worcester Main Line
The rail lines in Massachusetts tending to branch out to serve the mills.  And the mills would locate themselves along the rivers, particularly at waterfalls, where the power of the falling water could be harnessed.

So, it proved economically worthwhile to construct this diminutive branchline along the east bank of the Charles, and curving to a river crossing and entering into a village simply called Lower Falls.

The Charles River, as seen from the
rail bridge near Lower Falls
While the freight service was unremarkable in itself, what made this branch special was its passenger service.  In 1867, the Boston & Worcester merged with two other lines to become the Boston & Albany, spanning the state and connecting to the mighty New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, which stretched west to Chicago.  While trains running overnight between Boston and Chicago ran on the mainline, the Lower Falls branch had a mere shuttle service, connecting Riverside Station on the mainline with the branch's namesake village.

Electric car #01, the "Ping Pong"
(Collection of Norman D. Clark)
With the advent of electric power came the widespread use of electric trolley cars and interurbans in the late 1880s and 1890s.  This inspired the Boston & Albany to eliminate the clumsy use of a locomotive and passenger cars to travel so short a distance.  In 1900 they converted a passenger car into their own version of an interurban, and gave it the number "01."

Since all it did, day in and day out, was shuttle back and forth this little 1.2-mile trip, it was nicknamed the "Ping Pong."

(Collection of Roy Lannigan)
In 1930, the "Ping Pong" was retired, and a single locomotive and passenger car.  Eventually, passenger service ended in 1957.  Freight service continued for a couple of decades.  

Now with rail service a distant memory, the one section of the line, between Washington Street in Wellesley and Concord Street in Newton, had become a walking path.  A wood deck bridge sets on the steel of the rail bridge over the Charles.

In Wellesley, the path transitions from concrete to stone dust as one approaches the Charles.

The path crosses the Charles River reusing the rail bridge.
The wood deck and railings of the footbridge.
Approaching the bridge from the Newton side.
Looking north across Concord Street:  the rails still remain, overgrown.
Humphrey, Thomas J. and Clark, Norman D, "Boston's Commuter Rail: Section Section," Boston Street Railway Association, Inc., 1986.
Karr, Ronald Dale, "The Rail Lines of Southern New England: A Handbook of Railroad History," Branch Line Press, 1994.

Except as noted, all photographs by Rachel Burckardt, Sept. 27, 2014.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

View from a Deck in East Boston

Tourists typically see Boston Harbor from the view on the Boston  side, from Rowe's Wharf or Long Wharf, or Lewis Wharf.  Residents of "Eastie" (as many call East Boston) know they have some of the best views of the harbor.  At the right, a sailboat passes into view.

The following photos show the array of from just one of the many decks that afford residents of Eastie with great views of Boston Harbor.
View to the Boston Hyatt Hotel at Logan Airport.  The airport administration building is just to the left of the hotel.
In the foreground is part of a working shipyard on the harbor waterfront. 
Sunset and the Boston Skyline as seen from across the harbor in East Boston.

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Favorite Room

My son #2 has always been fascinated with this house in the neighborhood, particularly the two-story glass sitting room.  

Imagine walking from a regular living room into this space that suddenly opens up vertically and is flooded with daylight on 3 sides.  Imagine it at night as a glass-encased box of warm light, visible to all who walk by.

Just another example of interesting architecture visible to those who stroll the streets of our fair city.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Around Town

Swan boats in the lagoon at Boston's
Public Garden
The spring is a time when, even in the city and the urban environs, we can see the subtle changes of the season.  This makes me more observant of the little details all around, as I walk around, to and from work, or going about the chores, or out on a bike ride.  Once in a while, I'm lucky to capture just some snippets of the visual feast all around.  This post is just a sample of them.

A view through the graceful drapings of the willows on the banks of the
lagoon at the Public Garden, just steps from my office.

I just love this collection of flowers in a garden near my home in Cambridge.

My favorite footbridge is constructed with steel arches and cables
 supporting the wood deck.  This is the Blue Heron Bridge over the
Charles River between Newton (foreground) and Watertown, on a June
Sunday as I was biking the river paths out to Waltham.

I loved the lighting of early evening as the somber crowd leaves Fenway Park.
The "green monster" seats hang over Landsdowne Street.  Sox lost 3-2 to Cleveland.
Sunset over the Charles, framed by the Boston University Bridge.