The Charles River dam, by virtue of an act passed by last year's General Court and approved June 24, is at last authorized after several years of agitation. By the terms of the bill, the dam is to be constructed across the lower end of the river in the narrowest part of the basin a short distance above the Craigie Bridge. A large fresh water basin will thus be created, extending from the Craigie Bridge up beyond the Longwood Bridge. The following committee on construction has recently been appointed: President, H. S. Pritchett of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, chairman, Hon. H. D. Yerxa, Hon. J. B. Holden '71L. As the act itself goes much into detail, specifying first class construction throughout and various improvements along the banks, and as the commission is not limited as to expenditure, the work is sure to be satisfactory. It is expected that the dam will be completed within from three to five years. The total cost is estimated at about $2,500,000.
The construction of a tidal basin in the Back Bay was first suggested as early as 1859, and for several years thereafter there was active discussion of the project. With the establishment of the permanent Metropolitan Park Commission in 1893, it was realized that the construction of a river park and embankment along the Charles must be an essential part of the scheme of public parks, and a committee appointed to investigate reported in favor of the building of a dam just above Craigie Bridge. This recommendation, however, owing to the imperfections of the engineering plans proposed, was not carried out. Since the legislative session of 1901, an active campaign has been carried on in behalf of the Charles River dam, by the following committee: J. J. Sorrow '85, chairman. H. L. Higginson h.'82, A. Hemenway '75. Nathan Matthews, Jr., George W. Weld '60, Dr. Chas, G. Weld '81M.
The completed dam will largely eliminate the variation of level due to the tide, and will do away with the unsightly low-tide river bed; it will admit, therefore of the improvement and beautification of the banks all along the river. Aside from this, the dam and basin will greatly improve the river for University rowing. It will obviate the necessity for rowing at low-tide in a very narrow channel, as at present, and will facilitate coaching by allowing the launch to keep alongside the crew even at the narrowest parts of the river.