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becausefrog t1_isowcxk wrote

Sloped sidewalks was one of the things I noticed a lot when I first moved to the Back Bay many years ago. It makes walking on ice even trickier, although I suspect it's meant to help with drainage.


Menorah_Fedora t1_ispo9fe wrote

Or perhaps they're so old it was for sewage 😅


michael_scarn_21 t1_ispzawy wrote

My hometown is medieval and there is a 1000 year street with sloped sides that was called Shit Street because it was where all the sewage ran down to the river. You never know haha


echocomplex OP t1_isowx7q wrote

Makes sense, I've seen other sloped sidewalks in the city. It may not be evident from the picture but these ones are mega sloped. I didn't get out a ruler but my rough feeling is the lower side is 8-10+ inches lower than the high side in places.


NotARobotDefACyborg t1_ist0tev wrote

You're not wrong, and it's absolute hell on the knees. Salem St is the same way. (Or at least, it was, 15 years ago.) Not quite as severe a slope, but still quite noticeable.


Captain_Quinn t1_isr7nfr wrote

Water street, yo. gotta manage the water


New-Examination4678 t1_isxktos wrote

Boston locations and streets tend to be very literal. Beacon hill used to have a beacon and long wharf used to be really long. Wonder if water street used to be the last street before the ocean.


outdoordreamer t1_isreayp wrote

Civil engineer here. Alot of people are commenting here that this is for drainage, but I seriously doubt that's the case. The cross slope of these sidewalks are wayyyyyy more than is necessary for proper sidewalk drainage. For reference, minimum slope percentage we design for on sidewalks to accommodate drainage towards the road is 0.5%, with a maximum allowed percentage of 2% per ADA requirements. Even at 2% slope, it's barely noticeable when walking. If I'd have to guess, I'd guess these sidewalks have a cross slope of at least 15%+. I doubt it's for sewage either, because although Boston is old, I don't think it's that old.

If you look at the pic, it looks like the grey building face on the right and the sidewalk panels that abut it are newer than the other buildings and sidewalk panels. I bet what happened is they re-did the building which raised the building face up vertically, but didn't take into account the impact it would have on the sidewalk so the City was forced to make the sidewalk with this crazy cross slope to meet the new building face.


Dukeofdorchester t1_isp5iau wrote

While buildings have support beams, sidewalks obviously don't. Boston is 2/3 landfill, so the freeze/thaw cycle really does a number on sidewalks. You notice it especially in places with brick sidewalks. They almost look like waves in places.


Anustart15 t1_isq37zd wrote

>Boston is 2/3 landfill, so the freeze/thaw cycle really does a number on sidewalks.

Water St is in one of the non landfill parts of the city though, isn't it?


Sonderchor t1_isr3law wrote

Only maybe the section from Kilby St to Broad St is, and even that looks like it may have been natural according to this 1769 map. Anything from Kilby to Washington is natural


f0rtytw0 t1_isp39tv wrote

The buildings are growing


Practical_War716 t1_isp020w wrote

Isn’t it crazy to look at that picture knowing people have been there for essentially hundreds of years. Walking those same streets.


mjf617 t1_isq8czp wrote

Try going to Europe or Asia.


werewolfmanjack t1_ispmhfs wrote

I don’t think that much pitch is necessary for drainage. I would guess it’s more settling of the street bed due to road usage.


jester02k t1_ispwpwy wrote

Some of the sidewalks in Boston have voids under them for Water,Power, and Steam (Heat). It makes for easier access to them for repairs and upgrades. I think the one in your picture is one due to the caulking along the edges to keep the water out hence the steep pitch. Edit: Oh I forgot the steam heat pipes add the benefit of heating the sidewalk so light snow storms it just melts like a dusting.


ReporterOther2179 t1_isrnu9s wrote

The term of art for these is ‘hollow sidewalks’. Wherein the basement of a building extends out under the sidewalk so don’t park your great big truck on it. Might fall through.


jester02k t1_isv9hzr wrote

I actually seen a dumpster truck get it's back wheels stuck behind Filene's back in the day. Was in Jordans for the muffins man do I miss them Blueberry Muffins.


ReporterOther2179 t1_isvn1ij wrote

Jordan Marsh had the blueberry muffins in its cafe. Recipe is available on YouTube. Fairly easy recipe if you’ve got a bowl, a mixing spoon, and a muffin tin. Could do it in a cast iron skillet, as a cake.


jester02k t1_isw3dnr wrote

Ya know I might do that this weekend thanks


HammerfestNORD t1_ispoizk wrote

Sidewalks on Blossom St. running along MGH suck balls with the slant. We have to move patients on stretchers to the ambulance parking. The damn slants make it a pain in the ass.


ZippityZooZaZingZo t1_isoy8ir wrote

Interesting! I must be the most unobservant person in the world. I’ve walked Water St a million times and never noticed this.


echocomplex OP t1_isq32em wrote

I miss beantown hoagie, a sandwich place that used to be located on this street.


ZippityZooZaZingZo t1_isq7x07 wrote

Ahhh yes, I know it well. Sad to see that one go. Was a go-to lunch spot for many in my office.


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echocomplex OP t1_isq7ow2 wrote

Idiot bot. This is why I'm not concerned about AI taking over.


Itchy-Marionberry-62 t1_isqqhdm wrote

I worked in the area…and for a long time after Ankle surgery…those sloping sidewalks were so painful for me. 😳


takenotes617 t1_isq7ct0 wrote

I built that escape room 😂 is it in business still?


echocomplex OP t1_isz3gzu wrote

I think so. Walked by it today and it still had the sign up and stuff.


wet_cupcake t1_isqcl0g wrote

Always noticed them but noticed them even more after being on crutches all of July and August. Brutal.


CLS4L t1_isp9m17 wrote

Sinking into dump ocean it built on


psc0425 t1_isq9mjb wrote

The slope is intended to guide the drunks walking home.


Crixxxxxx1 t1_isrhxuc wrote

Most of Boston is landfilled


Lazy-Hooker t1_issx1wr wrote

I don't know but ive had to grip the sides of buildings there so I didn't slide on the ice


Low-Donut-9883 t1_istc87x wrote

Pretty sure its intentional to direct the water away from the foundation.


[deleted] t1_iststzl wrote

People weren’t as healthy back then, and everyone had a long leg and a short leg. These sidewalks attempt to correct this.


PaulitoTuGato t1_isq45w2 wrote

It’s so that the water moves off the sidewalk and into the street where they have drainage next to the curb. The street also pitches down from the center towards the curb. Although it might not seem great when it gets really cold, when properly cleaned and salted it definitely helps in drying the sidewalk. Watch out for anything metal on the sidewalk, I’ve almost busted my ass a few times walking on metal lids in the winter!


Dinosaur9911 t1_ispym7k wrote

That’s what happens when you hire unions.