Shifting Focus

Boston / Massachusetts / USA /
Team: John Frey / Kevin Herlihy / Lanie Cohen / Melissa Green / Yuanbin Wang /
Jury Statement:

Neptune Road once was a residential street and the entrance to Frederick Law Olmsted’s Wood Island Park, a 47-acre waterfront park designed in the 19th Century and located in East Boston.

When Logan Airport expanded in the late 1960s and early 1970s, families along Neptune Road were displaced, leaving a fallow area that is now used for various industrial uses. As the airport expanded, planes flew lower over the residential blocks, and conflicts with airport officials escalated. To make room for the expansion, Wood Island Park was leveled in 1967, when 35 workmen with 35 chain saws toppled 35 elms along the road. The Massachusetts Port Authority, under the reign of then- director and later Governor of Massachusetts Edward J. King, seized by eminent domain some 720 feet (220 m) of the street, and evicted families with the help of US Marshalls. (Boston Globe, 1997)

Replacing a park with industrial use has repercussions. Sound and water pollution found new footing, while views of the harbor were all but eliminated, threatening the salt marsh ecosystem and a critical part of the community’s social fabric.

This project rejects the singular perspective thrust upon the community from the airport expansion project and works to reclaim public space in order to honor the community who fought for equitable access and reconnect the public to the sky.

Embedded in this larger goal is the aim to expand and connect the constellation of public parks in this area, which is accessible via the greenway connector/public transit. Additionally, a bevy of climate resiliency strategies will ensure that this landscape can exist for future generations to walk, run, or march for a new cause in.