I grew up in Needham, Massachusetts, which seems to have been in two places at once. How can that be?
The city of Boston has a famous section called the Back Bay. You can’t go to a Red Sox game, read a Spenser novel, or watch the Boston Pops orchestra on the Fourth of July without connecting with the Back Bay. But it wasn’t always there.
The Back Bay is called that because it was a bay that was back filled. Check out the map.
The white areas are water. That’s a big area to fill in, especially at a substantial enough depth for building construction, about fifteen feet. In fact, it’s about five-hundred and fifty acres of tidal marshland. How was it done?
Well, it seems that a contractor firm (Goss & Munson) won the bidding to do the work and they were allowed by Needham to remove gravel by taking down a hill in an area now occupied by the Needham Industrial Park situated alongside the highway known as Route 128. It surrounds Boston as a beltway. The area encompassed approximately one-hundred acres, which lay flat until the 1950s when the land was developed as the Industrial Center.
This was Boston’s real “Big Dig.”