Riverside Bridge

Riverside Park Pedestrian Bridge

I delayed posting this weekend so I could get out and find something interesting, as last week hadn’t yielded anything of note.  I still haven’t managed to get back to reliably getting out often enough to have a store of images for weeks that don’t yield anything. But now that spring is really here, that should improve.

This week’s photo is another of those “looking for one thing, found another” images.  I’d noticed the parking lot for this small park during the winter, when it was snowed in, and thought I might come back.  It’s Riverside Park in Newton, a small state Department of Conservation and Recreation site right next to the main east-west railroad line, and I thought I might get a good photo of the old bridge carrying that over the Charles River. I did, but it wasn’t all that special, but the bridge I stood on to take it, shown above, was.

This area is home to a string of conservation land and small parks bordering the Charles, and a popular area for lazy afternoon boating of the arm-powered variety. Apparently the fishing is also fairly good. Recreational use is nothing new: more than a century ago this was a popular getaway from the city. Just downstream is the former location of Norumbega Park, the nineteeth-century equivalent of a modern Six Flags. All gone now, its bandstands and picnic grounds left behind by changing ideas of recreation. Today the area is used for light-duty hiking, boating and fishing.

The bridge I photographed is part of the new era, although it dates from the end of the old. This is the Riverside Park Pedestrian Bridge (and apparently it has no more name than that). It was built around 1920 as a pedestrian bridge.  Over the years it had been neglected and rusted through, and was closed and declared unsafe in 2003.  The state eventually found some money, and repaired it in 2013. That was apparently a major project, as concerns over lead paint on the bridge led to bringing in a crane and removing the bridge to shore, where is was cleaned, repaired and repainted. This also allowed the stone abutment to be rebuilt.  And so we have this very beautiful bridge, which looks new and yet unlike the more prosaic bridges typical of modern state construction since it’s nearly a century old.

It’s a bit ironic, because it essentially goes nowhere, and the canoeists and kayakers passing under it far outnumber any pedestrians it might carry.  It may eventually be part of a loop trail, but at present the other bridge remains closed and unsafe (it’s also a rather boring wooden one) and the pedestrian underpass below the tracks that links them is dark and not someplace I’d walk alone.  The park, in fact, turns out to have a somewhat unsavory reputation, which caused the locals to object to the plans to repair the bridge (they’d apparently prefer the park be closed; the state apparently hopes increased use will chase off the undesirables). There’s a nice little dock for canoe launching, but there are others nearby, so it’s not clear if that will help.

But used or not, the bridge has been preserved for its next century. If the kayaker’s notice it at all, they probably don’t pay it much mind. But it certainly is an improvement over what they’d have seen otherwise.

I like this photo for the subject, as well as how it captures the sense of place and time. Spring isn’t fully established yet, as the mostly-bare trees attest, but the grass is green and the river is high due to recent rains, and the sky promises that more is to come. Leaves will be out shortly. The kayakers passing by as I set up to photograph were a happy accident, but they add to that ambiance.

This image is another HDR, made as usual from a bracket of five exposures at 1 EV offsets. The bracket was centered at 1/200th-second, f/11 and ISO 800, with the lens at 40mm. The circular polarizing filter was used. I cropped the image slightly to remove part of the near bank, and in the HDR software took the “deep 2” present, adjusting Contrast and Shadows up and adding a slight boost to Saturation. Back in Capture One I applied sharpening and exported as Jpeg.


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