Rethinking Boston: Is It Time For A New Grand City Plan?

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The city skyline is seen at dusk on the Boston Harbor. (AP)
The city skyline is seen at dusk on the Boston Harbor. (AP)

Back in 1976, a group of architects and urban planners offered a dramatic plan to expand Boston. They wanted to build a brand new neighborhood roughly the size of Beacon Hill that would provide new open space, parks and housing for 45,000 people — all on platforms tethered to the bottom of Boston Harbor.

Planners first wanted to use it as a site for the 1976 World Expo. Then it would become a permanent floating neighborhood — a bold vision and statement about Boston's future.

The neighborhood, of course, was never built, and the 1976 World Expo never came to be.

But as Courtney Humphries wrote recently in The Boston Globe, that lost island neighborhood represented, "an age when Boston still dared to dream big and offer sweeping visions of what the city's future might be."

So where's the sweeping plan about Boston's future today? And does Boston need one?

A half-century ago, the city was scarred by urban renewal — from the blight of the central artery project to the tragic demolition of the West End neighborhood.

But today, cities face big challenges — from gentrification to global warming — and some say they require big solutions and big plans.

Is it time for Boston to think big again about its future again? Or are bold centralized plans unnecessary and dangerous?


This segment aired on July 31, 2012.


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