The Longfellow Bridge is an icon of Boston and has earned the endearing nickname of the Salt-and-Pepper Shaker Bridge. The first bridge built on this site was a timber-pile structure constructed in 1793 connecting the secluded Bowdoin Square in Boston with the more commercial side of Cambridge, forever altering both neighborhoods. The Longfellow Bridge (originally called the Cambridge Bridge) was built in 1901 to replace the 1793 span. It was designed by Edmund Wheelwright (with inspiration from the 1893 Columbian Exposition) and is a product of the City Beautiful Movement. In 1927 the bridge was renamed to honor the local poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The only major repairs to the bridge occurred in 1959 and over time, the bridge suffered from the loss of original fabric.
The project scope included the complete restoration of the bridge’s twelve arch spans, the seismic retrofit of twelve masonry piers, the dismantling, repair, and reconstruction of the four signature “salt and pepper” granite towers, and the restoration and preservation of the character-defining historic architectural elements. The project team analyzed and categorized every element of the bridge into three tiers of historic significance: critical, significant but less critical, little /no historic value. They then painstakingly worked to restore as much original fabric of the bridge as they could while stabilizing the structure for the next 100 years and meeting modern needs such as additional pedestrian lighting, programmable LED lights in the arches, and reprogramming the bridge to meet today’s traffic and non-vehicle demands. And through all of this work traffic, pedestrians, bikes, and trains continued to flow!
“With American infrastructure facing so many challenges it’s essential to demonstrate the tremendous value of investing in our character-defining, iconic bridges through the highest quality restoration which allows old facilities to meet modern needs,” says Greg Galer, Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance. “While a long and expensive project, the Longfellow will continue to serve for several generations as it has for over a century — proudly connecting Boston’s past with its future.”
Massachusetts Department of Transportation
J.F. White Contracting Company/Skanska/Consigli Construction, Co.
Atlantic Bridge and Engineering
Copley Wolff Design Group, Inc.
Gill Engineering Associates, Inc.
Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority
McGinley Kalsow & Associates, Inc.
RE Ciccone Door Services
U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration