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Now You See It, Now You Don't

Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 8, 2013 12:04 AM

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64.jpg                                   The Central Artery Was Already Clogged in 1964

     It was planned as the solution but it became the problem.  The Central Artery was touted as the newer faster way through Boston upon its opening in 1959. Today it's invisible thanks to the Big Dig. But not long ago the Artery was a headache for its users seven days a week. Pictured is a photo taken when the road was only five years old and it's already jammed up. What is this "faster way" you speak of?

     The Expressway's unintended claim to fame became the way traffic would come to a grinding halt, motionless without explanation, for unpredictable periods. At least there was the Cityscape to look at as motorists idled, internal combustion forcing  pistons to pump overtime burning precious fossil fuels. But nobody wanted to look through the exhaust fumes and smog at the city below. They just wanted to get past it. So instead they filed their nails. They read books. They primped in the mirror. They ate doughnuts and drank coffee. They pointed certain fingers at the other guy, blaming him for their misery. They'd arrive at work late, blaming traffic. Unsympathetic supervisors would tell them to allow for that and set the alarm an hour earlier. They'd return home, again late, to a warmed over dinner. Oh the horror. An oil tanker tipped over; three hour delay. A woman got a flat in the passing lane; one hour delay. Two lanes would be inexplicably closed with no visible work going on; one hour delay. A minor collision could cause a two hour backup. Too many cars moved in too little space. Careful on the right. A car full of teenagers is taking the BDL Express. The 'copters and small planes flew overhead broadcasting to Bostonians what they already knew: traffic is bad and getting worse. Thanks fellas. Couldn't have done it without you!

     Today it's all behind us. The Central Artery is gone. Traffic jams have disappeared. Commuters now travel beneath in massive tunnels with mysterious ramps and exits. Out of sight, out of mind. Take a breath. The nightmare is over.

     Or is it? Now you see it. Now you don't. As Lily Tomlin said, "Reality is the leading cause of stress among those in touch with it." Feel better now?

Please submit personally owned photos (1945-87) for our upcoming book to

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Ciao for Now ... JB

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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