In the late 19th century, the banks of the Charles River near the Harvard campus were covered with marshes, cut through with small streams that advanced and retreated with the tides.
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Then engineers took over. The tidal marshes were filled, land was reclaimed, and many of the streams were buried underground in pipes.
Now, as Harvard begins its expansion on the Allston side of the Charles, there is a push to return the area to a more natural state – part of an emerging national movement that touts the environmental benefits of landscape restoration.
For the last two years, Harvard, the city, the local community, and various groups including the watershed association have worked – sometimes contentiously – to determine the best course for the project. Bowditch said her group’s main goal is to figure out how the drainage systems in North Allston work and how to make them work better.