Join activists, residents and our allies on the State House steps to mark the 50th anniversary of the successful movement to stop the Interstate-95 highway from tearing through greater Boston. Come remember this historic day and offer bold wishes for the future of the Commonwealth. We rally to honor our shared legacy of tireless grassroots activism and to reflect on the urgent work that remains unfinished.
January 25, 2019,
1:30 pm Assemble on State House steps
2:00 pm Enter State House
In 1948, inspired by changes to federal law, Massachusetts government officials started hatching a plan to build multiple highways circling and cutting through the heart of Boston, making steady progress through the 1950s. But when officials began to hold public hearings in 1960, as it became clear what this plan would entail — including a disproportionate impact on poor communities of color — the people pushed back. Activists, many with experience in the civil rights and antiwar protests, began to organize.
Linking archival research, ethnographic fieldwork, and oral history, Karilyn Crockett’s book People before Highways offers ground-level analysis of the social, political, and environmental significance of a local anti-highway protest and its lasting national implications. The story of how an unlikely multiracial coalition of urban and suburban residents, planners, and activists emerged to stop an interstate highway is one full of suspenseful twists and surprises, including for the actors themselves. And yet, the victory and its aftermath are undeniable: federally funded mass transit expansion, a linear central city park, and a highway-less urban corridor that serves as a daily reminder of the power and efficacy of citizen-led city making.