Thursday, November 1, 2007

Stony Brook - And More Stony Brook

This picture shows the washed-out sidewalk along the Thanish Carriage Factory on Brookside avenue, near Green street. The building is still there today.

I pulled these stories from my other site: Stony Brook: Gone, But Not Forgotten. I got interested in Stony Brook because its path runs through the heart of Jamaica Plain, but since the brook runs from Hyde Park and West Roxbury through Roslindale, Jamaica Plain and Roxbury, I'm going to keep them separate. I probably will migrate some more entries from SB:GBNF to here, but only the JP-related ones.

It Isn't Easy Being Green (st.)

Here are two articles from 1902. Both concern the intersection of Green st and Brookside ave, so they go together nicely.

Boston Globe March 2, 1902

Stony Brook Maintains Its Reputation

Its Overflow of Yesterday Morning Will Cost the
City a Considerable Sum for Damages - Buildings

Yesterday morning's rampage makes more firm the
title of Stony brook as Boston's most expensive

Another large expenditure will be necessary from
the city treasury before the damage done by the
flood of Friday night and Saturday morning can be
made good. While damage has been done to property
all along the brook, the greatest loss has been
inflicted in the more thickly settled parts of
Jamaica Plain, where the very number of buildings
gave the angry torrent scope for its work of

The prompt and effective work of the sewer
department warned the residents near the danger
point along the brook, and also was the means of
preventing much greater damage than did take place.
This damage began first with small cave-ins, then
came the falling in at Brookside Ave in front of
the Thanish factory. The walls of that four-story
brick structure cracked with a loud report.
Later the sidewalk in front of Gaffney &
McDermott's completely fell in and there is nothing
but open space to be seen for quite a distance
under both structures.

Fears were expressed that both buildings might
fall, and extra precaution was taken to prevent
this if possible. The great weight of the two
buildings being in the center and well back from
the cave-in saved them.

In the cave-in along Brookside ave the gas pipes
were twisted and wrenched so that in many places
they were broken and the gas was escaping in great
quantities yesterday. One of the employees of the
gas company in investigating the breaks managed to
get too close to the leak and his torch ignited the
gas. A heavy explosion followed, but he was not

When the danger from the broken water pipes and gas
mains had been attended to the residents who had
left their homes for safety returned to them.
In the West Roxbury district the overflowing water
from Stony brook made many streets impassable, but
most of the water had been drained off my noon

In Roslindale there was quite a flood around the Mt
Hope, Florence and Catherine sts section. The water
reached almost up to the houses and in some cases
cellars were flooded.

Beyond the flooding of a few cellars in the Keyes
and Williams sts section of Jamaica Plain, little
damage was done there.

At Forest Hills between Washington st and the
railroad tracks the back yards and cellars were
filled with water.

[The rest of the article covers other areas around

Boston Globe August 14, 1902

Hard To Fight

Quicksand in Stony Brook Conduit

Workmen Find Treacherous Footing in Trench

Picks, Shovels and Boots Soon Disappear
Driving of Sheet Pilings Necessary to Save Abutting

Interesting Statement Given Out by Supt Donovan

Workmen on the Stony-brook conduit have just opened
up a deep bed of quicksand at the Green st end,
Jamaica Plain. The quicksand will cause the sewer
department no end of trouble.

Supt Donovan of the street department this morning
gave out the following statement on the Green st
difficulty in particular and the conduit in

"Stony brook conduit, 17 feet wide and 15 1/2 feet
high, has now been constructed from the Fens to
Green st, Jamaica Plain in accordance with the
report of the commissioners of 1886. We are now
crossing Green st, and at this point we have
encountered a deep bed of quicksand. This has
necessitated the driving of sheet pilings, tounged
and grooved five inches thick, and 35 feet long,
making what is practically a coffer dam, or rather,
a succession of coffer dams, inside of which the
conduit is being constructed. This is the only
means by which this material can be confined and
prevented from flowing into the treach at such a
rate and in such quantities as to possibly damage
or destroy the abutting buildings.

"There is probably just enough clay mixed with this
quicksand to make a very tenatious or gelatinous
mass so that it is difficult for the workmen to
find a footing in working at the bottom of the
trench. They are in considerable danger of losing
their picks and shovels, and even their boots.
Several of the men have been partly engulfed.

"Green st is closed to public travel, and a
temporary way has been provided across the brook
and among the buildings to the south. It is
expected to get the conduit across Green st and up
to Washington near Williams at this fall.
Construction in this material is necessarily slow,
on account of the extrordinary precaution that has
to be taken, but borings show that this bed of
quicksand disappears at about the location of the
Sturtevant blower works, beyone which point
construction should proceed much more rapidly.

"It would be less expensive to excavate this trench
in solid rock that to deal with this treacherous
material. It is the worst material that has bee
encountered on Stony brook at any other point. It
is calculated that it will cost at least 50 percent
more to build in this material than in good

"In connection and carried along with this work on
the Stony brook conduit a low-grade sewer is also
being constructed. This will afford drainage in the
vicinity of Williams, Washington and Keyes sts as
the existing system of sewers there is too high an
elevation to properly drain this territory. This
low-grade sewer is of brick, 2 by 3 1/2 feet, and
is carried on the haunch of the arch of the Stony
brook conduit.

Studies are being made for the improvement of the
Roslindale branch of Stony brook, from Washington
to Cohassett sts, thence to Central station. Floods
on this branch have become more and more frequent,
and have become so severe that travel has been
stopped on some of the streets, the school children
have been unable to get through them, and even the
cars of the Suburban street railway company have
been stopped on Belgrade av. Engineer Dorr has made
plans for building an enlarged channel from
Washington to Cohassett sts, the bottom of which
has been scoured out by the velocity of the
current. The walls have partially tumbled in. This
work will be started as soon as the street
commissioners have obtained the necessary rights,
after which the sewer division will proceed to
improve the remainder of the channel by deepening
and widening it up to and along teh embankment of
the Dedham branch of the New York, New Haven &
Hartford railroad, as far, at least, as Central

"This will take care of a territory which as grown
rapidly within the past few years, and in which
many new streets have been laid out, constructed
and built upon, and many swampy places drained or
filled. All these operations tend to increase the
severity of the floods. The storm water, which,
under the old condition of things, lay in swamps
and low places for several days, is now discharged
into the brook channel in a few hours.

[The article goes on to discuss work being done in
the Fens and Dorchester.]

1 comment:

  1. Mark
    I enjoyed reading your posts about Stony Brook yesterday, and today I was looking at the maps of the Rumsey collection and found one that shows the brook quite well. I don't know how to post it here, but you can hopefully pull it up on that site pretty easily.
    1899 - JP Brown & Co., Index of Dorchester, West Roxbury and Brighton
    Maybe you've already seen this one - but in case not....
    thanks for the interesting research - Liza