Commonwealth Pier. Celebrating 100 Years of Innovation

Almost a quarter mile in length and wider than a football field, Commonwealth Pier has been a vibrant part of Boston’s history for more than 100 years.

Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2013, Commonwealth Pier’s history is a history of Boston itself. Borne from reclaimed land, inextricably linked to Boston’s maritime history and today a 21st century centerpiece of finance and technology, Commonwealth Pier has had an illustrious history and served as the catalyst for today’s energetic Seaport District.

19th Century Roots Turns Into 20th Century Growth

As Boston grew in the 19th century the city needed ever larger port facilities for passengers and freight.  When completed in 1913, Commonwealth Pier was the largest pier building in the world.

Through the early part of the 20th century the pier served passengers of the White Star Line and Hamburg-American Lines. The Pier also served the nation as a military receiving area in World War I and World War II.

During the middle part of the 20th century the Pier served various maritime needs for Boston’s freight and fish industries under the stewardship of the Massachusetts Port Authority.

From Fishing to Finance

In the 1980s, Massport, in partnership with Fidelity Investments and The Drew Company developed ambitious plans to reinvent the Pier - and indeed the entire area surrounding the Pier - into a multi-use complex with the rehabilitation of the Pier as the World Trade Center Boston.

The new World Trade Center Boston featured some of Boston's largest convention and exhibition space, a modern conference center, 600,000 square feet of first class office space as well as retail and a popular restaurant overlooking the harbor.

The Seaport District Emerges

With new office workers, convention attendees and local Bostonians thronging to the new World Trade Center for business, major trade shows and blockbuster consumer events this nearly abandoned section of Boston started attracting more interest. First came the Seaport Hotel – the only high-rise building in a sea of parking lots. This was followed by the development of a modern multi-purpose office complex, Seaport Place.

Renamed the Seaport District the area was transformed again by Boston’s Big Dig as a gateway between greater Boston and Boston Logan International Airport. Boston’s beloved “T” came to the World Trade Center in 2004 making access to the area even easier. Soon new hotels, the gleaming new 600,000 square foot Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, office towers and new restaurants followed.

An Icon of 21st Century Boston

Today the Seaport District (also dubbed by the City of Boston as the Innovation District) is home to thousands of office workers in finance, law, high tech, life sciences, architecture and advertising. New residential and office towers are springing up everywhere. The area is home to three major hotels (with more on the way), dozens of popular restaurants and major entertainment and cultural venues like the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Bank of America Concert Pavilion.

Water taxis, ferries and popular harbor cruise tour ships call the former Commonwealth Pier home and the Seaport District now vies with Boston’s Back Bay, North End and Beacon Hill as major destination.

From tidal flats to towering office and residential towers, it all began in 1913 with Commonwealth Pier. Celebrating a Century of Innovation this year!
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