The Beacon Hill Civic Association welcomes you. This site serves Boston’s historic Beacon Hill neighborhood by providing resources for daily living on Beacon Hill, current calendars of meetings and social events on Beacon Hill, opportunities to volunteer with the Beacon Hill Civic Association, and information for membership in the Beacon Hill Civic Association.
Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) position:
What is the BHCA is recommending?
In keeping with the historic character of Beacon Hill, the BHCA supports the use of wire-cut bricks for the ramps and Architectural cast concrete pavers for the detectable warning pad. This is not an unreasonable request. The US access board has said that properly laid brick is just as ADA compliant as poured concrete and scientific studies comparing wire-cut brick surfaces to concrete have found that wire-cut brick provides a smoother surface for wheelchair users. Also ADA compliant is the use of the Architectural cast concrete pavers instead of plastic for the warning pads. These pavers can be made in any color and can be made with the same audible echo as the plastic pads. An additional benefit is they are 1/3 the cost of the plastic pads and possibly have a longer lifespan, as many of the plastic pads installed last year have already needed replacement. So if maintenance and cost are an issue then there is a distinct advantage to the pavers.
The BHCA has never put the importance of the historic guidelines over importance of accessibility and safety. And in this case, there is no conflict between the ADA guidelines and the preservation guidelines - we can satisfy both. The point is not only that we can – we should. Boston is a diverse city from the high-tech innovation district to the birthplace of our nation – all within walking distance. Visitors come from all over the world to see what downtown Boston has to offer and the commerce generated is good for all of Boston.
Beacon Hill is the oldest of Boston’s historic neighborhoods. And while it is subject, like the other downtown historic districts, to the preservation guidelines of the City’s Architectural commission, unlike the other historic districts it is also under the jurisdiction of the National Park Services as a National Historic Landmark. In 1922 the residents of Beacon Hill formed the Beacon Hill Civic Association after joining together to prevent the city from replacing the brick sidewalks with poured concrete. And after 92 years, protecting the historic character of Beacon Hill remains our mission.
State Representative Jay Livingstone has also spoken out concerning his perspective on accessibility on Beacon Hill. Click here to read his message to the community and to view examples of sidewalk solutions that other cities across the country have implemented.