Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Thomas A. McMullin

Second Advisor

Paul Faler

Third Advisor

James O'Toole


This thesis examines the building of the West Boston Bridge in 1793, which was the first bridge to cross the Charles River between Cambridge and Boston, as well as the building of its successors at the same location in 1854 and 1907. It is a study of how these bridges brought change to both Boston and Cambridge which resulted not only in commercial development and urban settlement, but greatly assisted in opening up avenues to public transit for a growing urban population. It also examines the influences on the bridges of the historical periods when each was built: the first in an age of vested privilege, the second in an age of urban growth and expanding commercialization influenced by Jacksonian-Democratic principles, and the third, in an age of the modern metropolis.