The policy and planning team at Boston Harbor Now spends a fair amount of time reading and over the past couple months, we’ve picked up some interesting lessons on maritime policy, waterfront visions, and the history of the Massachusetts Port Authority.
Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of the El Faro recounts the final 24 hours onboard the container ship, El Faro. Rachel Slade relies on the words of the crew members themselves whose conversations were captured by the ship’s data recorder and salvaged from the wreckage three miles deep in the Atlantic Ocean. Slade vividly depicts the crew’s uncertainty and fear as they carried out commands that they knew would steer them straight into the eye of a category 3 hurricane. Although there are merchant ship casualties worldwide every two or three days, the El Faro—a U.S.-flagged ship with a seasoned and respected Captain—attracted national and international attention. Its sinking is the worst U.S. maritime disaster in three decades and, with modern technology and innovation, feels like it could have been entirely avoided. Into the Raging Sea is a harrowing glimpse into the world of modern shipping, the pressures faced by mariners at sea, and the unintended consequences of warming seas and the effects of climate change.
Past Futures: Two Centuries of Imagining Boston is the exhibition catalog from 1985 that was compiled by Alex Krieger for the Graduate School of Design. The 33-year old book features maps, designs, sketches, watercolors, and stories from past planning efforts that could have shaped the City of Boston and the surrounding area. Sections on the Waterfront and Harbor and on the Charles River Basin show what the water’s edge might have been if decision-making processes had happened differently. Would we be sailing past the east end of Faneuil Hall Marketplace had less filling occurred? Would we have expanded our port substantially to accommodate larger ships on a whole series of berths along the southern edge of South Boston? The images are thought-provoking.
At our Harbor Use Public Forum in July, Jim Aloisi talked about his new book Massport at 60. He lays out the reasoning behind the initial creation of the authority that would manage the Logan Airport as it was growing, the shipping facilities before containerization, and the Mystic River Bridge, later renamed for former Governor Maurice Tobin. The book describes the contentious relationship between East Boston residents and Massport as the sleepy regional airport grew into a major international hub. It also describes the evolution of the shipping industry, the modernization of Conley terminal, and the authority’s current role in shaping the Seaport and South Boston. For people who didn’t grow up here, the many of the named characters in the book are familiar place names, and it’s fascinating to learn about the people behind the signs on buildings, parks, bridges, etc.
While the first two books are available at the Boston Public Library, Massport at 60 is not. However, we have copies in our office and are more than happy to give one to you. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like one.