Somerville and New England History Collection
This historic photo of the Mystic Avenue storm drain provides
a glimpse of what was once a source of town pride. In the
decades leading up to World War I, Somerville's sewer and
water systems were considered models for other cities. In
1906 City Engineer Ernest Bailey took a group of aldermen
and other city officials on a guided tour of the sewers, culminating
in a lunch of lobster salad, rolls and crullers served by
lantern light in a storm drain near the Mystic River-quite
possibly the one pictured here. In 1911 Mayor Charles Burns
received a letter from Tokyo Mayor Yuko Ozaki (the same mayor
who made the famous gift of 3,000 cherry trees to Washington,
DC), asking for the plans of Somerville's sewer system. "Somerville's
reputation for excellent sewers has reached the Orient"
the Somerville Journal crowed.