Gravestone Peeping at Mount Auburn Cemetery

Mount Auburn Cemetery is America’s first landscaped cemetery. Apparently that distinction entitled it to two entries on the list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts. Most of the cemetery is located in Watertown, though the entrance lies in Cambridge. That must be why only Cambridge claimed it.

Aside from the list-makers’ failures, Mount Auburn Cemetery is a magnificent place to visit. The cemetery is credited as the beginning of the American public parks and gardens movement. It was the first large-scale designed landscape open to the public in the United States.

I’m not sure I understand why they allow cars to drive on the cemetery’s road, but prohibit bicycles and motorcycles.

Given its stature, there are many prominent residents:

I had never visited before and did so just to put another checkmark on my list. Even The Boy said the place was “pretty cool.” He wants go back there again and see more.

Central Square

Head east from Harvard Square down Mass. Ave and you quickly arrive in Central Square. The section of Central Square along Massachusetts Avenue between Clinton Street and Main Street is designated the “Central Square Historic District,” and was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 2, 1990.

Now, like Harvard Square, it has made it’s way onto the list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts.

That makes it greater than Kendall Square or Porter Square, since they did not make it onto the list.

You Can’t Park Your Car in Harvard Yard

Harvard Yard

I don’t think anyone is surprised that Harvard Yard appears on the list of 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts. It’s the centerpiece of Harvard University, the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. The Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony voted to establish the institution in 1636.

It was named after the College’s first benefactor, the young minister John Harvard. When he died in 1638 he left his library and half his estate to the institution. A statue of John Harvard stands today in front of University Hall in Harvard Yard. Rubbing his foot for good luck is long standing tradition. (You can see how shiny his foot is from all the rubbing.)

I stopped by early in the morning. Under the dawn light, there was only one other person around. That young student had the dazed look of not knowing whether it was very early in the morning or very late in the afternoon.

Longfellow Bridge (x2)

A bridge so nice, they named it twice to the 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts. It’s listed under Boston as “Longfellow Bridge” and “The Longfellow Bridge.” My Librarian friends would be horrified to see how many items on the list are alphabetized using “The.”

Apparently, the Cambridge side of the Longfellow Bridge was not great enough to make the list.

The bridge spans nearly one-half mile across the Charles River. It consists of eleven steel arch spans supported on ten masonry piers and two massive abutments. The the shape of its central towers earned it the “Salt- and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge” nickname. The Longfellow Bridge is a vital link between Boston and Cambridge, with cars, walkers, runners, cyclists, and MBTA riders using its great span. Since it opened to traffic over 100 years ago, the bridge is showing its age. It’s steel is rusting and it’s stone is crumbling. To counter the decay, the state is beginning a six-year, $300 million rehabilitation.

The bridge is named for the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He regularly walked the earlier West Boston Bridge which was replaced by the bridge now named after him. In 1845 Longfellow published “The Bridge’’ a poem inspired by those crossings of the earlier West Boston Bridge.

The Boston Globe put together this great collection of the Longfellow Bridge through the Years and the video below.

Here is what I have so far on 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts:

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Top image is of Longfellow Cambridgeside is by ECM85.

Dr. Paul Dudley White Bicycle Path

Only Cambridge takes credit for the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bike Path in the 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts. Watertown, Newton and Boston failed to take credit for the portions of the 17 mile bike path that loops around the Charles River Basin. It stretches on both sides of the river from the Museum of Science to Watertown Square.

As one of the many defects in the published list of 1,000 Great Places(.pdf), the place is identified as the “Dr. Paul W. White Bike Path” in Cambridge. I suppose “W.” and “Dudley” sound similar.

Who was Dr. White?

He was an international famous cardiologist. He was probably most famous for acting as President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s physician following his heart attack in 1955. He was one of the founders of the American Heart Association and became the organization’s president in 1941.

Dr. White was a staunch advocate of exercise, diet, and weight control in the prevention of heart disease. It’s no surprise that he was a bicycle enthusiast

“We must establish more bike path and trails throughout the country. I’d like to see everyone on a bike – not just once in a while, but regularly as a routine. The bicycle should become a superb resource for the whole family to enjoy the beauties of nature, whether in our national parks, along our seacoasts, or simply in our beautiful woods and fields the country over.” American Cycling, August 1968, 200,000 Miles of Bikeways!(.pdf)

In riding the path, I only found one small sign (pictured) that indicated it was the Dr. Paul Dudley White Bicycle Path. That was in the Boston section, at about where Exeter Street would intersect with the bike path.

He would be disappointed in the current condition of the bike path that carries his name. (Maybe that’s why there are so few signs.) The quality varies from nice wide cycling boulevards with center stripes to narrow stretches of broken asphalt with dangerous drops at the edges. In some places it is barely wide enough for one bicycle to pass another safely.

The road intersections are particularly poor. The intersections largely ignore the bike path, forcing you into some dangerous traffic interactions. I find (1) the Boston intersection with Western Avenue, (2) the Boston intersection with Arsenal Street, and (3) the intersections with North Beacon Street in Boston and Watertown to be dangerous. Not just for bikes. Pedestrians also dread these intersections.

The Department of Conservation and Recreation extended the path into the Auburndale section of Newton, weaving back and forth across the many road intersections and bridges that cross the Charles River.

Here is what I have so far on 1,000 Great Places in Massachusetts:

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