Greater Boston is one-of-a-kind in many ways. Among other things, we have the Charles River. Unlike many large rivers in the U.S., the Charles cleanly separates Boston from its surrounding suburbs. The finality of the municipal border between Boston and Cambridge crystallizes a stark contrast between the architecture, layout and general vibe of the two cities. Standing on any of the bridges between Cambridge and Boston, one has a very clear view of this contrast.
I’ve never met a bridge over the Charles I didn’t like. Every one I’ve seen thus far has dazzled me with its own personality and features. This weekend, I crossed another one off my visitation list, the BU Bridge. The BU Bridge spans the Charles between Cambridgeport, at the southernmost point of Cambridge and Boston University’s campus on Commonwealth Avenue. There are oodles of things to see on either side of the bridge, and the view from the bridge is jaw-dropping.
From Tufts, it is most sensible to approach from the Cambridge side. To get there, I took the Red Line from Davis Square to Central Square, and then walked down Pearl Street towards the river for a little under a mile. Pearl Street is a fascinating stroll: It includes homes with wacky paint jobs, the Central Square branch of the Cambridge Public Library and a preserved soap workers cottage from the 19th century. Once I got to the end of Pearl Street, I hung a right at Morse Elementary School and walked up over Route 3 on a cool pedestrian bridge. The BU Bridge was now visible — an awe-inspiring work of iron truss goodness.
After a bit more walking, I finally reached the bridge. In my opinion, the east side of the bridge has a much better view than the west side. The aforementioned contrast is visible: Boston’s hyper-modern glass buildings and Cambridge’s sturdy brick ones battle for your love and attention. Also visible from the bridge are the remnants of the defunct Grand Junction Railroad. The tracks run in front of the east side of the bridge. Notably, every square inch of the tracks is covered in sweet, sweet graffiti. This rail bridge is easily the best graffiti-viewing spot in Greater Boston that I’ve been able to find in my 18 months here. The graffiti stands out against Boston’s spotless, imposing skyscrapers, creating a very powerful, moving view. If one decides to cross the bridge, there are plenty of things to do and see in Allston. Boston University is quite close to Fenway Park, so if you’re looking for a scenic route to a Red Sox game that isn’t as crowded as the Green Line, this Cambridgeport route may be the way to go.
When I set out on this excursion, I honestly didn’t expect much of a simple bridge. Greater Boston, as always, blew me out of the water. For those who want to journey further into the space between Boston’s most popular areas, I cannot recommend the BU Bridge enough.