East Somerville Pin-Up Ideas: 8

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This is the eighth of multiple posts covering all of the ideas generated at the Somerville by Design: East Somerville Design Charrette that was held September 30 – October 2, 2013. We have numbered all of the images so that it is easier to reference them when providing feedback.

Feedback should be provided using the comments section below to facilitate discussion among the entire community of East Somerville for each idea presented. For any further questions, please contact the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Community Development at 617-625-6600.

The photo below shows the original zoning along Cross Street from 1925. Notice that the same pink district is mapped along the entire length of Cross Street, Broadway, Washington, Medford Street, and at the intersection of Pearl and Franklin Street. This is also the same district that was mapped over Davis and Union Squares.

Cross Street 2915 Zoning

The mapping of this district in such a manner reflects the mindset of the time that Cross Street was a north-south oriented Main Street. The zoning district was designed to encourage new commercial shopfronts on existing buildings and mixed-use infill. Cross Street was to become a zipper, knitting East Somerville  and Winter Hill together. This potential future for Cross Street was put in place many years before McGrath Highway bulldozed its was through the neighborhood, forever changing movement patterns of residents and preventing Cross Street from ever really maturing into a fully-developed Main Street.

Below is a gallery of some of the remaining buildings that reflected the intent of the original Business District that was mapped along Cross Street.

Attendees of the East Somerville charrette expressed renewed hope for Cross Street. Although it may never be corridor-like main street, the intersection of Cross and Pearl Streets has energy. Small businesses and the new East Somerville Community School sit at the four corners of the intersection. Cross and Pearl themselves function as important routes through East Somerville and are highly trafficked by walkers, cyclists, public transit, and automobiles. How might this “node” be enhanced was a question residents and the design team focused on answering.


This is Sunnyside Piazza in Portland Oregon.

Sunnyside Piazza

City Repair in Portland, Oregon hosts an annual Village Building Convergence where hundreds of people come together to build diverse projects for the benefit of their communites and to take back their streets via a process known as Intersection Repair. Intersection repair involves painting streets with a high-visiblity mural that creates a public square for residents to gather and also gently encourages drivers to slow down when approaching these spaces. Over time the neighbors further enhance the transformation by adding amenities like benches, community bulletin boards, and introducing gardens & art.

Over 41 intersections throughout Portland have been transformed in this manner. The program has been such a success that the City adopted an Ordinance to encourage the activity (City of Portland Ordinance 175937).

Concept 19 for East Somerville recommends an Intersection Repair carried out for Pearl and Cross Street. In partnership with East Somerville Main Streets, local residents and members of the arts community of East Somerville can be brought together for a “Community Building Convergence” to muralize the Pearl and Cross Street intersection as a first step in placemaking efforts to enhance the node.

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Following on the footsteps of the East Somerville community, Concept 20 focuses the City’s storefront improvement program on the business of the Cross and Pearl Street node to make the buildings more pedestrian friendly and support the Intersection Repair intervention. Many businesses along Broadway have already utilized this City program, including the example below: 122 Broadway.


By partnering together, the East Somerville community and the City can transform the Cross and Pearl intersection into a place that residents of East Somerville have made their own as a home to local small business and community pride at the heart of the East Somerville neighborhood.

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Be sure to check out all of the East Somerville idea posts:












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