Saturday, January 5, 2008

Toll Gate Footbridge

Tollgate Footbridge from the Tollgate cemetery, 2007

Richards, L.J. 1899 (copyright © 2000 by Cartography Associates)
David Rumsey Collection

Washington street, Hyde Park avenue, Walk Hill and Patten streets. The footbridge was built from the edge of the cemetery to the edge of the school property.

After years of minor puzzlement over why the Tollgate Footbridge stood at the particular place it did, my discovery of fire insurance maps like the one above (thanks to the JPHS web site) led me to believe that the bridge may have been built to carry children over the railroad tracks from Hyde Park avenue to the long-gone Washington street primary school. A trip through the Jamaica Plain News archive has finally allowed me to support my speculation.

A 1909 article (I'll add the date later) told of the preference of the local people for a tunnel rather than a bridge at the site. After computing the number of stair steps required for the footbridge, the article states:

"A bridge of this character over the tracks would tend, the residents say, to defeat the very purpose for which a passage across the railroad tracks for pedestrians is desired. It would serve as an added inducement for children to climb the fences and go over the tracks up an embankment only 11 feet high rather than climb a flight of 64 and descend a flight of 24 steps, or vice versa, to get across."

So there you have it. Now I need to know why a similar footbridge still exists over the same tracks at Metropolitan avenue, apparently with a wheelchair ramp as well. Do people really need to get from the Roslindale side to the liquor store on Hyde Park avenue that often? In wheel chairs? It's a puzzlement.

Note: I spell both tollgate and toll gate for the Googlers out there - it's not a typo.

1 comment:

  1. When I was a kid in Forest Hills, with my St. Andrews CYO club,we would remove the debris and weeds from that German Cemetary 2x each friends the Healy brothers, used to toss rocks off the tollgate bridge onto the trains...they see Bad kids !