Photos: The Last Time Forest Hills Got Blown Up and Rebuilt

IMPLOSION OF THE FOREST HILLS VIADUCT NOV 1983.  Two thousand feet of granite blocks were reused at the golf course  and valley gates at Franklin Park, a project of the Franklin Park Coaltion.

IMPLOSION OF THE FOREST HILLS VIADUCT NOV 1983. Two thousand feet of granite blocks were reused at the golf course and valley gates at Franklin Park a project of the Franklin Park Coalition. Credit: Richard Heath

For the second time in 35 years, Forest Hills will see major demolition and reconfiguration for new roads and traffic patterns as the Casey Arborway replaces the Casey Overpass. Here are photos I took during those projects back in the 1980s.

Asticou Road after the railroad causeway was removed . 1982

Richard Heath

Asticou Road after the railroad causeway was removed . 1982

Martha and I lived through the first from 1980 until 1989; when the huge railroad viaduct was blown up in November 1983, the Orange Line was opened in May 2, 1987 and old Forest Hills terminal was razed in 1989.

At that time (from 1975 to 1991) we lived at 319 Forest Hills St. next to the Arborway streetcar yards (to the melody of the screeching of the streetcar wheels making the turn outside our kitchen).  The majority of people living in Forest Hills today have no memory of this project which was – and remains –  the largest  construction project in the history of Jamaica Plain.

Area cleared for the new terminal  and thirty  foot trench. 1982

Richard Heath

Area cleared for the new terminal and thirty foot trench. 1982

Very few living here today were involved in the 12 years of planning for it.  The difference from 1982 from 2015 is that we wanted this to happen; we had heated differences  over many details but we as a community wanted this transportation project and we so we tolerated the disruption and the mess because we wanted the new depressed transit line and the station and the new parks for which we had argued and lobbied for and talked about for over a decade.

Walk Hill Street bridge removed. 1982. The road went up to Asticou Road.

Walk Hill Street bridge removed. 1982. The road went up to Asticou Road.

The Casey Overpass project is huge to those of you now living in Forest Hills today but the expectations for a better tomorrow and the toleration for the inconvenience required to reach that tomorrow are so much lower. We also had political leadership in the state legislature, congress and the governors office that is non existent today.

Reaching that new tomorrow will not be as easy for you today.

Adaptive reuse of the granite blocks from the Forest Hills viaduct. July 4, 1984

Adaptive reuse of the granite blocks from the Forest Hills viaduct. July 4, 1985

 

After the viaduct was destroyed and the blocks removed the Green Line was relocated

Richard Heath

After the viaduct was destroyed and the blocks removed the Green Line was relocated

IMPLOSION OF THE FOREST HILLS VIADUCT. NOV 1983.

Richard Heath

IMPLOSION OF THE FOREST HILLS VIADUCT. NOV 1983.

Two thousand  feet of granite blocks from the Forest Hills viaduct were shipped to Franklin Park wand placed in a running bolck wall to keep out automobiles. Dec. 1983. A Franklin Park Coalition project

Richard Heath

Two thousand feet of granite blocks from the Forest Hills viaduct were shipped to Franklin Park wand placed in a running bolck wall to keep out automobiles. Dec. 1983. A Franklin Park Coalition project

 

  • Clay Harper

    Thanks much for your informative recollections, your advocacy, and your highly illuminating photos Richard. Your “History of Forest Hills” available at the JP Historiccal Society website (http://www.jphs.org/locales/2004/5/15/history-of-forest-hills.html) is an invaluable resource for all those wishing to understand how the area has evolved over the last two centuries.

    In regard to the current project, regardless of the “want” (which I would argue is substantially greater within the community than is generally reflected by the loudest voices), there is certainly a “need” in the sense that the Overpass is beyond it’s serviceable life. I applaud the members of the community, the advocates, the consultants and the MassDOT engineers and architects who have made every effort to enhance the community benefit in the final design. Construction will be no picnic for anyone, but the final product will enhance transit access, civic spaces and recreational opportunities, reconnecting both Forest Hills and the Emerald Necklace into a more contiguous whole.

  • David Holzman

    I agree with Clay Harper’s comments. The loudest voices still want a bridge, but the majority agree that the “at grade” solution is better. Just try to cross Shea Circle, with its rushing automobile traffic, on foot or bike, today, and you’ll see why a stop light, to calm traffic at that point, is far superior to a new bridge on-ramp. Add to that the beauty of being rid of the shadow cast by a bridge and you’ll start to realize the boon that a well designed, at grade, solution represents for pedestrians and cyclists. Our cityscapes have been shaped by the needs of motorists for too long. If you want a neighborhood that favors foot and cycle traffic over the automobile, that encourages the use of public transportation, that reconnects the portions of Jamaica Plain now bifurcated by the bridge, forget about building a new one. Besides, we’ve been over all this. The construction won’t be easy, but some of us are excited about the benefits, and once they’ve been realized, we’ll all be happy. As a resident of Roslindale, I look forward to an easy stroll from the Arboretum to Franklin Park – along the Arborway, as it was intended!