Friday, January 21, 2011

The Charles River Dam, James Storrow, Helen Storrow and Storrow Drive

James Storrow was an investment banker who in 1901 spearheaded a campaign to have a dam built over the Charles River. He introduced a bill in 1901 to create a commission to study this. In 1903 the Legislature passed a law to construct the dam, which was erected between 1903 and 1910. It was located where the Science Museum is now.

James Storrow died in 1926. In 1929 Helen Storrow pledged to donate 1 million in her husband's memory to improve the Embankment as the Esplanade was known back then. According to
The Charles River Esplanade: Our Boston Treasure by Linda Cox, the state of Massachusetts donated 2.3 million and the city of Boston donated $400,000. One condition was that the money be matched by the city or state. The second condition was that no roads be built between the Esplanade and the city in effect separating the city from this area. However two years after Helen died, Storrow Drive was built.

The State Library has the acts related to Storrow Drive and the Embankment. These are also accessible through the Library's web site at and include the following:
Storrow Memorial Embankment. Resolution 31 of 1937
Authorization to Erect a Memorial on Helen Osborne Storrow by MDC
. Resolve 22 of 1948
James J. Storrow Memorial Drive, Embankment Rd. Chapter 262 of 1949, Chapter 828 of 1950
Fiedler Bridge
(designating the foot bridge). Resolve 86 of 1953
A Statue Memorializing Arthur Fiedler
. Chapter 567 of 1980

These publications are in the Library's collection:

Charles River Basin Commission, 1903 - 1910, MR 627 M415r
Report on the Committee on the Charles River Dam, 1903, MR 627 M414r
Evidence and Arguments before the Committee on the Charles River Dam
, 1901 - 1903, MR 627 M414e

Naomi Allen
Reference Librarian

image: Charles River and Hereford Street Street Overflow, low water from Charles River Basin Report in 1905. MR 627 M415r