Monday, August 24, 2009

Forgotten Boston - Abandoned Dry Dock

Tucked behind the Bank Of America Pavilion and in plain sight of Harpoon Brewery is a relic of Boston not many have ever seen. Complete with decaying cranes, ancient pump house, vandalized bathrooms and a 50 foot caisson holding back the ocean. This is one of Boston's forgotten dry docks.

Unimpressive as seen from behind the locked gates meant to keep you out, but promising views not often witnessed by even those who work and live closest to it. Formerly part of the Charlestown Navy Yard, construction of Dry Dock #1 began in 1830 and completed in 1833.

The Dry Dock was eventually closed by the Navy in 1973. In January of 1976 the National Park Service assumed management of Dry Dock #1. In Sept 2004 the NPS proposed a $4.4 million project to rehabilitate the Dock but by all accounts this proposal has stalled and the dock left for disrepair.

Patches of concrete that have fallen into the ocean, promising a watery grave to anyone not mindful of it's hazards, and often patrolled by harbor police this location is not safe for the general public.

To visit the dry dock properly one would need to follow the almost hidden staircases to below sea level, walk among the years of mildew, mold and animal droppings at the bottom of the empty ship container and stare up at the steel caisson holding back a wall of water that would surely destroy anything in it's path if let loose.

I've visited this place too many times to be worried of such troubles. I find myself meditating out here often, a quiet abandoned piece of Boston waterfront not concerned with the goings-on of the modern world.

There is a lot more information about this site found here


  1. Wow, I have walked/photo'ed by that area a number of times and never realize a dry-dock was tucked in there!
    Anyways, I've always admired that General Ship crane, it's a handsome machine.
    Thanks for sharing, here's some photos I've taken of this and other docks in the same area:

  2. Hi,

    Very nice pics. I was just by this area yesterday and was wondering about its history as well. The Carlson article you cited is informative, but that refers to Dry Dock 1, which is in Charlestown by the USS Constitution. Dry Dock 2 is also in Charlestown in the same area, and Dry Dock 3 is the Ship Repair Facility. So, this spot remains a mystery. Have a great day, Jim H.