Massachusetts Roads - Cambridge


Cambridge City Hall (left) was the site of the first gay marriage license application to be legal under state law. The event that night is covered here.

This signage popped up in the vicinity of Star Market. Very ugly, and luckily a storm knocked it down, but the pole still stands. That's Massachusetts Avenue in the background.

Triangular height warnings, European-style, are found on various places on MIT's campus. This is at Walker (the Walker Memorial Building).

When To Use Flash. What was wrong with the old slashed P?

Another oldie, in Lafayette Square (Mass. Ave./Main St.), which is about to be redesigned and reconfigured to be pedestrian- and vehicle-friendly. Note that $15 fine; considering the amount of litter in this abandoned lot (city-owned because of the planned construction), it has either remained at that level or else is unenforced.

Interesting overhead light-up signage on Broadway, which once only flashed when a pedestrian pushed a button, but seems to be stuck in blinky mode. This one is WB, and thus Longfellow Bridge traffic will see it unless it ducks into a driveway or uses Third Avenue; traffic heading west on Main Street must use the next light, turn left on the Mid-Block Connector (Ames Street for us locals), and then right, while EB Main St. traffic has a smooth merge east of Third Ave. and thus east of this crosswalk.

One of many old MDC signs, this one on EB Greenough Blvd, which is the westward extension of Memorial Drive past the US 3/MA 2 split to Western Avenue.

Who says paint technology has come a long way? This sign on Franklin St. at Pleasant St. says older is better.

But... but... the stop signs are ALWAYS red! There has never been and probably never will be a signal here (there are at least four stop signs), so the NTOR sign is that much more mysterious.

RUCK RUT indeed. Trucks can't take I-90 through Boston and the Prudential Center tunnel, so they get off at Exit 20, come into Cambridge on Western Avenue, make a right on Mass. Ave. (MA 2A), then bear left onto Main Street, make a left onto Galileo Galilei Way, curve around, and make a left onto Land Boulevard. They then follow MA 3 SB over the Charles River Dam or the Gilmore Bridge, and eventually get where they need to go via I-93, US 1, MA 1A, or I-90's Ted Williams Tunnel. The other direction is much the same, except Western Ave. is one way so trucks follow a parallel street.

Main Street WB is paved with bricks for its first block through Technology Square, probably because it carries more pedestrian than automotive traffic. This is due to the layout of the Longfellow Bridge approach, which allows Main St. EB traffic to merge with Broadway EB traffic, but all WB traffic must follow Broadway. Thus the only traffic that uses this one block is going from Broadway EB to Main St. WB, which is basically just taxis and public/large-group transportation that stops at Tech Square. (Traffic actually wanting to make this turn has at least two good opportunities to cut off the angle, the Mid-Block Connector/Ames Street and Galileo Galilei Way.)

Scattered Mass. Ave. signs, like this one at Front St. in Central Square, give the history of the road as having led to Pelham's Island in 1636. A couple of other streets have similar historical designations, but this is going away with current signage (just like those nifty town seals). Note the audible cross-signal warning, most of which are located within a block or two of MIT's campus.

Another historical sign, but in blue, with an older green version. This is at the end of Albany St., where it turns right into Henry St. and crosses the railroad tracks (every street in Cambridge seems to cross tracks in some manner). The fort is just to the LEFT on Waverly St.; since traffic is forced right anyway, these signs are highly misleading.

What is now considered an older Cambridge street sign is a sign like the green Amherst St. sign below, with the Cambridge seal within the sign (Boston does/did the same thing). The demise of this practice is sad, as the old signs taught you Latin and history at the same time (scroll back up to the top). Anyway, before those signs there were white signs, and these only remain in dark, unused corners, such as this one near Harvard and one in an alleyway in Central Square (keep going).

Speaking of Central Square, this is found at the northern end of it. Pedestrian's Guide To Peeing Responsibly!

More old white signs. The first, off of Prospect Avenue, once said something else, though it only shows up with flash, and barely at that. The second is on Mass. Ave., and is that aforementioned Central Square alleyway. The third is in Harvard Square, and is actually twisted to point straight down (I rotated 90 degrees to get it horizontal again).

OK, so before even the white signs, there was apparently an even older either white or yellow sign, with black lettering and a ring around the letters. This is at the eastern end of the eastern section of Amherst Street (which is cut off from the western section by MIT) at Wadsworth St., and uses the same style lettering as MA used before the 1970's. I would estimate this sign is from at the latest the 1950's, and potentially much, much earlier than that, given the age of some of the utility poles in Cambridge.

There used to be industry at the west end of Vassar Street, and a bunch of rails to get trains onto the track to the north (there were probably two that long ago). Most of the rails are gone, but a few have simply been paved over, and in some places the pavement has cracked to reveal the old treasures:

Of course, the REAL treasure is the crossbucks, right at the point where Vassar curves to T at Mem Drive. The only older one I've seen is on US 1A in Providence. Unlike that one, though, this one is metal:

And what's holding it up?

An I-beam, of course!

Another of the abandoned tracks still crosses the western beginning of Albany Street, and guess what, another old crossbucks. In the background is a giant metal sponge, aka Simmons Hall.

MA 3: Memorial Drive, Land Blvd., Longfellow Bridge, Charles River Dam; Cambridge Parkway
MA 2A, Mass. Ave.
MA 2, BU Bridge
US 3 (and MA 2 and 16): Memorial Drive, Fresh Pond Pkwy., Alewife Brook Pkwy.
MA 16: Mt. Auburn Street, Aberdeen and Huron Aves.
Gilmore Bridge
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