Who Says You Can’t Get There From Here?

Written by nicklebones on Apr 21

Apropos of nothing really, just some food for thought next time you get lost on the road…

Some time ago, I was meeting up with a friend who instructed me to take the 57 bus to the stop at the corner of Tremont and Park.  “That’s easy,” I thought to myself.  “Why take the bus at all, when the subway goes straight there?”  Or, I could even bike to the Common up Cambridge Street by MGH, or head up Washington Street through Downtown Crossing from the South.

I never got there.

Yup, turns out there is a Park Street and a Tremont Street — and they intersect — in Newton.  And to get there?  The 57 bus even goes down Cambridge Street.  In Allston.  And Washington Street.  In Brighton.  Eep!

Whether it was a practical joke played by our forebears or just lack of communication across town borders (no…make that even within town borders themselves, sometimes), the same street names seem to pop up willy-nilly all across the region.

Soooo… I thought it might be interesting to see if I could plot a route through greater Boston in which one could bike entirely on a limited “set” of streets, even if those streets were in completely separate areas.  Although I did have to “cheat” a bit here and there, I did amaze myself by coming up with a 31.3-mile route through Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Somerville and Newton… using only streets named Park, Tremont, Washington, Cambridge, Beacon, Harvard, Brookline, and Boylston.

The Route

How to ride 31.3 miles on 8 streets... (click for detailed map)

Let’s begin the madness in the bowels of Newton…

Park Ave. (Newton) – turns into Park Street (Newton) – to Tremont St. (Newton) – to Washington St. (Brighton/Oak Square) – to Cambridge St. (Brighton) – continues into Cambridge St. (Allston) – to N. Beacon St. (Allston)…

Then, follow the River Path around Harvard Stadium to…

N. Harvard St. (Allston) – to Cambridge St. (Allston) – to Harvard Ave. (Allston) – to Harvard Street (Brookline) – to Beacon St. (Brookline) – to Washington St. (Brookline) – to Harvard St. (Brookline) – to Boylston St. (Brookline, not the same one as Boston) – to Brookline Ave. (Brookline) – continues into Boston as Brookline Ave. (Longwood/Kenmore)…

Wheel down to the River Path, then make your way across the BU Bridge to…

Brookline Street (Cambridge) – to Harvard St. (Cambridge)*

Sneak across Sennott Park and wave to Tremont St. (Cambridge), then back onto Harvard St. to Harvard Yard (and we’ll just sneak across Kirkland St. here, but that turns into Washington St. (Somerville), so we’ll count it) -

And here there’s an optional side trip by continuing down Washington St. to New Washington St. (Somerville) – onto Cambridge St. (Charlestown), then back to…

Beacon St. (Somerville) – up to Park St. (Somerville), turn around and come back to Beacon then down to Cambridge St. (Cambridge) and don’t forget to a quick detour down Tremont St. (Somerville) as you pass by…

Back down Cambridge St. into Boston and on the River Path to…

Corner of Tremont and Tremonta different Cambridge St. (Beacon Hill) – which turns into Tremont St. (Boston) – to Park St. (Boston) – to Beacon St. (BH/Back Bay) – to Boylston St. (Back Bay)** – and if you’re in the mood for a break/frosty beverage, Sweetwater’s is right down Boylston Place – back onto Tremont St. and  down to my favorite intersection in the city: the corner of Tremont St. and Tremont St. (right) – then continue on Tremont – to W. Brookline St. (South End) – to Washington St. (to Rox/J.P.) -to Boylston St. (J.P.) -

Say hi to the folks at Stony Brook, then you’re ready for a clusterbumble of an intersection that probably frightens even Google Maps: double back on Boylston to Washington St. (J.P.) – follow down to New Washington St. (Forest Hills) – to Washington St. (Forest Hills) – to Bizarro Washington St. (Forest Hills).

Voila!  It’s that simple.  Anyone want to try it?  :-)


* Okay, so we had to cross Mass Ave (Cambridge) down a couple of small side streets here.

** Likewise, a quick connection down Mass Ave (Boston).


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Posted in fun, routes | 5 Comments »


5 Responses to “Who Says You Can’t Get There From Here?”

  1. By geoff on Apr 21, 2011 | Reply

    Brilliant!! I love this kind of ride – conceptual. Beautifully done. It’s like the ride that attempts to cross the Charles River on every bridge that spans it. Great way to plan a ride. How about a ride that uses every city or town’s Pleasant Street. It seems like every town in Mass. has a Pleasant Street.

  2. By Matt on Apr 22, 2011 | Reply

    I was trying to find my way back to Brighton from the South End, and found Washington St. Thought it would be a direct route. Ended up near Roslindale.

  3. By anonymous on Jun 3, 2011 | Reply

    That corner of Tremont St. is good (and it does the same trick again, down in Roxbury, though I’m not sure if it is properly signed). Of course it is a side effect of the realignment of streets in that area in the 50′s and 60′s — Tremont used to go through where Eliot Norton Park is now. (And once upon a time, Tremont had another bend to go SW of Brigham Cir., but they changed that segment over to continue Huntington Av. in the late 19th century)

    But my favorite is the corner of Batterymarch St. in the financial district by the Hilton; it’s a three-way T intersection that is the same street each way. Sadly, it is not signed. I believe that Knapp St. in Chinatown does something similar, but I don’t recall.

    Quaker Ln. is also good, also some of what used to be street leading to the old State House is now paved as sidewalk. Calumet St. south of Brigham Cir. takes a nice sharp turn.

    Then there’s Goodrich Ct. in North End, which does not have a particularly interesting intersection, but is narrow enough that only skinny people should attempt to walk down it.

  4. By ckd on Jun 3, 2011 | Reply

    Some out-of-town visitors (my then-in-laws) once decided that since they’d reached Broadway, they knew where they were and could get back by following the street to their destination.

    That would have worked better if they weren’t on the Somerville Broadway and trying to get to Kendall Square….

  5. By Charles Bahne on Jun 3, 2011 | Reply

    Great concept! But two minor corrections:

    1) When you’re on Washington St. in Brookline, the route described here stays on Washington St. until the intersection of Brookline Ave. Harvard St. in Brookline ends at the intersection of Washington St. (which is known as Harvard Square), and Washington continues on towards Boston/Roxbury. Likewise Boylston St. in Brookline ends at the intersection of Washington St. (which is known as Village Square), and Washington continues on, ending at the Boston/Roxbury line, where it become Huntington Ave.

    2) You don’t mention it, but your route requires a short segment of Hampshire St. in Cambridge. Beacon St. in Somerville ends at the city line, which is about a block NW of Inman Square.

    Usually, street names change at the city or town line, but there are a few significant exceptions, which were often conscious efforts to continue the name. Massachusetts Ave. goes from Boston (Dorchester) to the Lexington/Lincoln line, through Cambridge and Arlington. The above-mentioned Washington St. in Brookline goes through Newton and Wellesley to the Wellesley/Natick line.

    And Washington St. in downtown Boston used to go all the way from City Square in Charlestown to the Rhode Island border in South Attleboro. It now has 3 discontinuities: one at Government Center between Haymarket Sq. and Washington Mall; the one at Forest Hills mentioned above; and another at the Walpole/Foxboro town line where a bridge has been missing for many, many years.

    See also Broadway in Everett, Malden, Melrose, and Saugus; and another Broadway in Chelsea and Revere. Of course, some of those might be roads you might not want to bike on.

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