The Opening of a Massachusetts Bridge

July 31, 1907

In Massachusetts, a new bridge spanning across the Charles River and connecting Boston’s Beacon Hill area with the Kendall Square community of Cambridge was officially dedicated. The North Adams Transcript reported, “The structure is unusually well lighted and one of its features which contribute to its reputation as one of the most beautiful bridges in the world are immense seals of both cities, which adorn the upper side of the middle of the bridge.” This new structure replaced the West Boston Bridge, which had been built in 1793.

The nighttime opening ceremonies for the new bridge were attended by approximately 10,000 people – “one jolly, festive, jostling crowd,” according to the Boston Post – and included fireworks and band concerts. The numerous dignitaries helping to dedicate the bridge included Boston Mayor John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald (the maternal grandfather of President John F. Kennedy) and Cambridge Mayor Walter C. Wardwell. “The new bridge was a solid mass of humanity,” noted the North Adams Transcript. “On the river were craft of all descriptions bearing parties, many of the vessels being beautifully decorated.”

During its first two decades of existence, the structure was known as both the Cambridge Bridge and the new West Boston Bridge. It was formally named the Longfellow Bridge in 1927 in honor of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the literary giant and longtime Cambridge resident who had written about the original bridge at that site in an 1845 poem. The bridge is also called the Salt-and-Pepper-Shaker Bridge due to the shape of its four central towers.

For more information on the Longfellow Bridge (formerly known as the Cambridge Bridge), please check out

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