Walk the Line

I’ve been doing a little ground work in Downtown Boston along the Freedom Trail to find material applications for the Salem project. I’m only finding time now to gather my thoughts, and I’d like to share what I’ve found with you.  I have been really amazed at all the different styles the line takes, even though the City has used a relatively simple material pallet of mostly brick and granite. Below you will see the different material applications–some traditional and some more high tech. Something to note is that some styles are very integrated into the design and fabric of the public space, while others are minimal and only hold the line. Overall, I think the line of the Freedom Trail is very visible in all applications–which means the City is doing something right.


Granite and Brick | North End Park on the Rose Kennedy Greenway


Brick Paving | Corner of State and Congress


Brick and Granite | State Street


Brick and Granite | Blackstone Block


Brick and Granite | Blackstone Block

I was interested to see how the line of the Freedom Trail was integrated into the historic Blackstone District. Here, the trail line was cut into the existing brick, and there is some degradation of the pathway, although it only adds to the charm.


Brick, Granite, Uni Pavers | Rose Kennedy Greenway

This crosswalk on the greenway gets a lot of wear and tear and isn’t holding up so well.


Brick, Concrete | North End


Painted Section | North End

The painted line is the original form of the trail. It gets the point across, and this allows a continuation of the trail through zones that have not been upgraded with brick and granite.


Pavement Surface Coating | State Street

It takes the guys in Boston less than 7 minutes to install a 10′ section of pavement surface coating, which is actually called aggregate-reinforced thermoplastic. You can watch a video here and learn a bit about the process.


Pavement Surface Coating | Faneuil Hall


Material Intersections | Faneuil Hall

The quality of the public spaces in Boston is phenomenal. People want to hang out in these spaces, and there are some very good surface material applications that make these spaces fast or slow. Cobble is harder to walk on, while brick is smooth and level, which makes it a better arterial material.


Material Intersections | Faneuil Hall


Brick-sized Tree Grates | Near State and Broad

I threw this image in because it is my new favorite thing! There is a little coffee shop on Broad Street that has a nice parklet in front of it with nice benches and this interesting tree grate system. The grates are brick-sized and integrate with the brick surface while allowing a greater surface area to collect water for the trees. It’s functional and beautiful.

More to come soon!


2 responses to “Walk the Line

  1. The Freedom Trail line has endured for fifty years, and you have captured very nicely the constant rethinking of the line’s materials and style. I really like the sections where the bricks are placed horizontally in the pavement. They seem to say “don’t rush” whereas the running bond brick and granite alignment conveys the opposite. My favorite images are the first two in your series. Thanks for sharing your well-grounded investigation!

  2. What a great study of the material choices used for this internationally known trail. I think the pavement surface coating is the most recent addition, and it is a much better solution to areas where a painted surface is needed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s