To be sure, there were headaches. There were delays that spanned presidential administrations. There was budgetary bloat by the billions. The Big Dig was not a perfect public works project. But it was ambitious, visionary, and a feat of engineering that transformed the city over the course of a quarter century, from the planning phase in 1982, to the ground breaking in 1991, and through the mammoth project’s completion in 2007.
Just a few of the Big Dig’s highlights: 161 miles of highway, half of which are in tunnels; more than 45 parks and public spaces; shoreline restoration in the Charles River Basin, Fort Point Channel, Rumney Marsh, Spectacle Island, and large stretches of the Boston Harborwalk; five miles of slurry walls, some of which rest on bedrock up to 120 feet deep, beneath city streets; the Leonard P. Zakim Memorial Bridge; and the Green Line Extension, completed in March — 32 years after the Conservation Law Foundation reached a landmark settlement with the state to lock in public transit enhancements to mitigate emissions from the Big Dig highway expansions.
Let the following photographs from the Globe’s archives inspire the city and region to dream boldly again.
Kelly Horan is the deputy editor of Ideas. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.