Officials, Residents Cut Ribbon at Fanny Appleton Footbridge

Photo and Story by Marianne Salza

The Frances “Fanny” Appleton Footbridge, which provides a universally accessible link from Charles Circle to the Charles River, Esplanade, was celebrated for its sophisticated elegance and safe comfortability during a Sept. 10 ribbon cutting. 

“This iconic structure connects the neighborhood to one of the Commonwealth’s crown jewels,” exclaimed Jonathan Gulliver, Highway Administrator.

Jim Shea, former Director of The Friends of the Longfellow House, with Fanny Appleton’s great, great grandson, Peter Smith, and her great granddaughter, Frances Appleton Wetherell during a ribbon cutting for the Fanny Appleton Bridge on the Esplanade Sept. 10.

The Fanny Appleton Footbridge is a 700-ton structure that features a spacious observation platform that overlooks the Charles River and Longfellow Bridge. The wide pedestrian walkway has enhanced the convenience of travel for Boston residents and visitors since its unofficial opening one year ago.

“I’m really excited about the bridge,” said former Beacon Hill resident, State Rep. Jay Livingstone, who now resides in the Back Bay. “I am a regular user of this bridge that is essential for getting from the T to the park.”

The internationally acclaimed, innovative bridge, designed by Rosales and Partners, received the Arthur G. Hayden Medal for outstanding achievements in bridge engineering. The 750-foot-long overpass intersects over Storrow Drive, weaving through the treetops of the Esplanade.

“This is even better than the Chicago ‘Bean,’ by Anish Kapoor,” boasted Beacon Hill resident Kate Ongaro. “We use it every day. Boston has needed something like this, and now we have it. This is what we’ll be famous for now.”

The Fanny Appleton Footbridge is maintained by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and is part of Mass DOT’s Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation project. The Esplanade Association conducted research and gathered input from residents on how to enhance the convenience of travel.

“This is not only an improvement,” expressed Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito. “But a tribute to the past and reflection of those who came before us to help this community grow as strong as it is today. It is a tremendous gift to the current community.”

Polito recognized Cambridge resident, and Fanny Appleton’s great granddaughter, Frances Appleton Wetherell, who attended the ceremony with Fanny Appleton’s great, great grandson, Peter Smith, and exclaimed that Fanny would approve of the footbridge.

The Fanny Appleton Footbridge is adjacent to the Longfellow Bridge, named in honor of poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who would cross the river from Cambridge to Beacon Hill in the 1840s to court his wife, Fanny.

“We’re able to put together community, activism, political support, wonderful architecture and engineering, and history,” said Stephanie Pollack, Secretary of Transportation. “Bridges bring people together.”

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