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Looking Out: A New View Of Boston Harbor

A Summer On The Harbor. Photographs and production by Jess Bidgood, with contributions from WBUR’s Lisa Tobin and David Boeri.

At one time in Boston’s history, Boston Harbor was the city’s commercial and cultural center, crowded with shippers and fishermen and the people doing business with them.

But what is it today? Where does it fit in with Boston in 2010? And what is our connection to it?

WBUR takes a look at the harbor with a summer series, “Looking Out: A New View Of Boston Harbor.”

Part 1: The Greenway As A Gateway

The Greenway is the crown jewel of the Big Dig. It was supposed to be many things: A parkway, a museum center, a tourist mecca. And it’s envisioned to be the gateway to Boston Harbor. But, many years and millions of dollars later, is it meeting that promise? We ask around — and then took out our measuring tools, to see how much water you can see from the Greenway.

Part 2: From Asylums And Dumps To Island Parklands

Once a landfill, Spectacle Island is now a seaglass-filled beach. (Jess Bidgood for WBUR)

Boston Harbor’s islands used to serve as asylums for undesirables and dumps for trash. Now harbor relics of yesteryear have been rediscovered and re-imagined.

Part 3: Harbor Boats Drag Up Live Lobsters, Commercial Fishing History Lives On

New Bedford and Gloucester may be Massachusetts’ biggest fishing ports. But in Boston Harbor, amid the cruise ships and cargo vessels and whale-watching boats that motor in and out, a handful of fishing vessels still make their livelihoods from the bounty of the port’s waters.

Part 4: A Vision for the Future: Swimming the the Charles

Kate Bowditch, of the Charles River Watershed Association, points to where the river meets Boston Harbor. (Sacha Pfeiffer/WBUR)

The Boston Harbor cleanup is one of the state’s great success stories. But the harbor’s health is directly tied to the Charles River, which flows into it. We check up on a long-standing effort to create what may seem unthinkable: a swimmable Charles.

Part 5: Sport Fishing Is Alive In Boston Harbor

You may once have shuddered at the thought of fishing in Boston Harbor. But after a long clean-up effort, the Harbor’s waters are blue and the fish are healthy — and fishing for fun is coming back.

Part 6: Pre-Teens Set Sail In Outward Bound

Boston Harbor is many things to many people, but to a group of pre-teen girls, sailing the harbor is a way to develop leadership, team-building skills and a strong sense of self.

Part 7: On Bumpkin Island, It’s ‘Survivor’ For Artists

Concerts and public art installations have long drawn visitors to the Harbor Islands. But a group of Boston-area artists recently pitched tents and went “primitive” as part of a five-day art encampment.

Part 8: In The Light Swim, Water Buffalo Rise

America’s first swimming race is the Boston Light Swim, an eight-mile open-water excursion from Little Brewster Island to South Boston. The race has a long history of unique successful swimmers.

Part 9: Nazis On The Harbor

After World War II ended, U.S. soldiers smuggled the Third Reich’s top scientists and engineers to a Harbor Island fort to find out what they could do for America in the Cold War.

Part 10: Global Warming Tops Harbor Challenges

Looking ahead, many see global warming as the biggest threat to Boston Harbor. And after one organization reallocated its funding to combat the issue, some worry about dwindling dollars for harbor activities, as well.

Web Extra: A Summer On The Harbor

This summer, WBUR took to the seas — Boston Harbor’s seas, we mean. As August ends, we take a look back — in sound and photographs.

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