Community Transportation

Nothing New Under the North End Sun

North Square – August 2013 – Photo by Matt Conti

Traffic concerns are high on the list of issues regarding the ongoing redesign of North Square. (See Vision and Design for an Improved North Square). A favored proposal is to restrict traffic on one side of the square adjacent to Sacred Heart Church. As is often the case in Boston’s historic North End, no issue is really “new,” a truism exemplified by this 1954 article published in the Italian News. Former reporter, Bob Skole shares the text of the story.

Italian News, July 30, 1954

City traffic officials are now studying plans to reduce congestion on North Square by providing zoned parking spaces for sightseeing busses and cars. The problem was inspected last week by Joseph Leota, senior engineer of the traffic department, and James W. Haley, chief engineer of the survey division of the Public Works Department.

They reached a tentative decision that congestion could be relieved by:

(1) providing a bus stop zone extending along North Sq. on the side of the Sacred Heart Church to accomodate three busses;
(2) making a traffic island in the center of the Square which would force cars to park in a manner using the> least amount of space;
(3) widening “small” Prince st.;
(4) allowing cars to park around the square; and
(5) making minor changes in sidewalks to allow easier and safer maneuvering of busses.

The officials met at a meeting in Sacred Heart Church which was attended by Fr. Louis Savio, pastor; Michael Corrao; Mr. Rawding, manager of the Gray Line Busses; Charles Falco; and ITALIAN NEWS representatives.

After a preliminary survey of the problem, the city officials agreed that the above changes would help greatly. They pointed out that 23 cars are now the maximum that can park to the Square, using all curb space, the center of the Square, and leaving no room for busses or for funerals. Under the tentative plan, 15 cars and three busses could be accomodated, and the bus zone could be used for funerals when necessary. Auto parking would be allowed in the bus zone at night.

100,000 TOURISTS

As it is now, Fr. Savio or other church officials must obtain a police officer to clear the street in front of the church when there is a funeral. If this were made a bus zone, busses would have to park elsewhere or wait while the space was used for a funeral.

Mr. Rawding said that he wanted to cooperate to the fullest extent to iron out the problem and sa¬tisfy the requirements of all con¬cerned. He pointed out that the heavy season for sightseeing busses was from April 1 through Nov. 15. About 100,000 tourists are brought into the district each year by buses, he said….

In the meantime, officials are studying to see if one-way traffic on North St. could be reversed to eliminate the funneling of trucks into the square from Cross and Richmond streets.