Renewing Old Paths

October 17, 2013
Quincy Street sidewalk. Photos: Zak Jensen and Jenny Magee Stenger.

Last week, we did something that we haven’t done in a very, very long time—we walked the stretch of Quincy Street’s sidewalk that runs parallel to the Harvard Art Museums’ historic façade.

For more than two centuries, Cambridge’s sidewalks have been laid with red brick. The museums are continuing this tradition, as our workers have been busy cutting bricks on site and hammering them into a continuous walkway that wraps around our facility.

While we’re maintaining the historic character of our brick walkways, we’re also making some improvements. The updated sidewalks comply with ADA’s accessibility standards, making the pathways into and around our building more accessible—a major goal of our building project. Also, people will no longer have to walk single file past our facility. Our new sidewalks are much wider than their predecessors, giving pedestrians ample room to maneuver their way down this busy corridor. A low granite site wall will make an elegant seam between our site and the public domain—a great place to take a break from the bustling activity on campus.

Another improvement is not so obvious. Structural soil now rests beneath this brick path, facilitating healthy tree growth. This additional topsoil will help the new trees we’re planting thrive in the coming years.

Now that the Quincy Street sidewalk is complete, our workers will begin laying brick for our Prescott Street sidewalk—a path that was formerly concrete. After we’ve transplanted trees on Broadway, the final stretch of brick will be laid, completing this piece of our larger landscaping plan.

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