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The HarborWalk - Facts

Who: Public and private land owners

What: A 43-mile walkway on Boston Harbor

Where: East Boston, Charlestown, North End, Downtown, South Boston, Dorchester

When: Harborwalk initiated 1984, completion 2007

Why: To connect neighborhoods with the waterfront.

How much: Paid for by individual landowners.

Web: www.tbha.org

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The HarborWalk

The beauty of the HarborWalk is in its simplicity. Its significance, however, should not be underestimated. Though least expensive of the six projects, it may be the most important. It will leave a lasting impression on everyone who walks it. The HarborWalk is what conventioneers will buzz about when they explain what they liked about Boston and it will trigger their return trip years later. It will be what brings Bostonians back to the water's edge. The HarborWalk's 43 miles of boardwalks and granite pavers already cobble together six of the city's neighborhoods: East Boston, Charlestown, the North End, Downtown, South Boston and Dorchester. Today, the HarborWalk is 65% complete and will be finished by 2007. Build it and they will come.

The Boston Harbor Association (BHA), an advocacy group dedicated to the protection of the harbor, has been walking the walk and talking the talk about cleaning up the harbor up since 1973. Even though Boston still had the dirtiest harbor water in the nation in the mid 1980's, the cleanup was on its way. The BHA shifted their attention towards bringing people to the water and initiated HarborWalk legislation in 1984. Today the BHA works with individuals, corporations, and other harbor-front landholders to make sure they do the right thing when it comes time to build their individual sections. The BHA strives to educate, cajole, or just plain embarrass them in the papers if they don't. Few cities have as strong a legacy with the sea as Boston and fewer cities have as bright a future because of it.


Step by step the 43-mile HarborWalk is nearing completion. Individual property owners along the harbor's edge are required to construct a piece of the HarborWalk when they make any changes to their property. The walk must be at least 12 feet wide, open to the public and connect to adjacent properties; whether ornate brick and granite or a simple wood boardwalk depends on the individual owner. Same rules apply to both private and public owners, as shown here in Massport's new Piers Park in East Boston. "The HarborWalk knits the land with the water," explains Boston Harbor Association Executive Director Vivian Li, as this 360-degree view from the end of the pier illustrates.
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