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Renata von Tscharner and Karl Haglund to speak at Annual Meeting

June 2, 2004

Post 440, 295 California Street, Nonantum

The Newton Conservators Annual Meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 2, 2004, with special guests Renata von Tscharner, founder of the Charles River Conservancy, and Karl Haglund, author of “Inventing the Charles River,” as keynote speakers.

The Annual Meeting is being moved to Post 440 in Nonantum this year, giving us more space at a better rate. A social hour with a cash bar will begin at 6:15 PM and a sit-down dinner will be served at 7:00 PM . The program will begin at 8:00 PM . A brief business meeting and presentation of awards will occur during dinner to allow our speakers to start as close to 8:00 PM as possible so we don’t run late on a weekday evening.

Invitations have been mailed to Newton Conservators members.

Participants in Charles River event

Renata von Tscharner and Karl Haglund

(photo from Harvard Gazette Archives)

Renata von Tscharner is president and founder of the Charles River Conservancy. A Newton resident, she is an architect and urban planner who has written books on cityscapes and urban art.

Karl Haglund is a senior planner for the state Department of Recreation and Conservation (formerly Metropolitan District Commission). He has a long interest in urban design and the history of the Charles River Basin .

Our speakers collaborated on the book, " Inventing the Charles River,” published by MIT Press in 2002. The book was written by Haglund with a foreword by von Tscharner.

The Charles River Basin , extending nine miles upstream from the harbor, has been called Boston 's Central Park . Yet few realize that this apparently natural landscape is a totally fabricated public space. Two hundred years ago the Charles was a tidal river, edged by hundreds of acres of salt marshes and mudflats.

Haglund and von Tscharner will describe how, before the creation of the basin could begin, the river first had to be imagined as a single public space. The new esplanades along the river changed the way Bostonians perceived their city. And the basin, with its expansive views of Boston and Cambridge , became an iconic image of the metropolitan area.

The book focuses on the precarious balance between transportation planning and public stewardship. Long before the esplanades were created, great stretches of the river were devoted to industrial enterprises and transportation—millponds, bridges, landfills, and a complex network of road and railway bridges. In 1929, Boston 's first major highway controversy erupted when a four-lane road was proposed as part of a new esplanade. At twenty-year intervals, three riverfront road disputes followed, successively more complex and contentious, culminating in the lawsuits over "Scheme Z," the Big Dig's plan for eighteen lanes of highway ramps and bridges over the river.

The presentation will include photographs, maps, and drawings that illustrate past and future visions for the Charles and document the river's place in Boston 's history.

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