Then and Now: Menino’s Boston

Have you blocked out what the city looked like 20 years ago? Peter Vanderwarker’s photos recall Boston before the Big Dig.

By | Boston Magazine |

We all want to forget the horror, but throughout most of Menino’s administration Boston was under siege by the Big Dig. The project may have been federally funded and overseen by the state, but it was the mayor who was saddled with a downtown that resembled a battlefield. Somehow, though, Menino managed to sell investors and ordinary citizens alike on his vision for the clean, efficient, and business-friendly city that would emerge from the project’s dust. The Big Dig ballooned into a $22 billion boondoggle, but Boston came out of it as a better city: Property values have more than doubled, our streets are safer, and our economy is more robust than ever.

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Noted photographer Peter Vanderwarker, author of The Big Dig: Reshaping an American City, has spent more than 30 years documenting our evolving city. Here we offer a series of his photos taken before and during Menino’s administration. The above pair of images shows City Square in Charlestown—during the construction of the Route One tunnel below the square, and after its conversion to a park. The other two sets show the Central Artery shortly before it was dismantled, and the same view after the land was transformed into the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway. —Rachel Slade


BEFORE: City Square, Charlestown, 1991


Photographs by Peter Vanderwarker

AFTER: City Square, Charlestown, 2010



BEFORE: The Central Artery, 2004


AFTER: The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, 2012



BEFORE: The Central Artery, 1999


AFTER: The Rose F. Kennedy Greenway, 2012


Next: Tom Menino’s Boston, By the Numbers »

By the Numbers

How has Boston changed since Menino first took office? Let us count the ways. —By Loren Savini

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Racial Composition: From 2010 U.S. Census. Participants in the census were permitted to select more than one identifying race, therefore the percentages add up to more than 100 percent. Violent-Crime Rate: Crimes committed per 100,000 people.



Office Space: Supplied by Colliers International, these numbers reflect only major commercial space, and do not include institutions, nonprofits, and small businesses. Convention Space: Reflects only square footage in Boston owned by the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority.

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For more of our look back at Mayor Menino’s time in office, check out “A Mayor in Full.”

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