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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Why can't we do this?

I've seen the future. I only hope to live long enough to see it for real.

A trolley car once owned by the Boston Elevated Railway is one of many that run along a right-of-way along San Francisco's Embarcadero. That's the waterfront roadway created after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake made the shaky old highway a safety hazard that needed to be torn down.

The palm tree-lined roadway runs from a renovated Ferry Building along the port to Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf. The trolleys actually also head all the way out to the Castro District, making them more than just another tourist lure.

Why am I babbling like this? Because the Embarcadero reminds me an awful lot about the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway -- a strip of city reclaimed from the clutches of a hulking overhead highway.

One thing that is clearly different. San Francisco was able to take advantage of its opportunities. The highway came down in 1991, redevelopment began almost immediately. No massive delays over turf wars.

While the Kennedy Greenway is a major improvement over the no-man's land that existed before the Central Artery came down, it remains very much a work in progress. The ambitions may be greater -- museums are harder to do than trolley lines -- but I can't help but get a sense we should be further along than we are. But then again, this is Boston, where politics and feuding is a way of life.

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