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Appleton Ped Bridge Render, jpg

Frances “Fanny” Appleton Pedestrian Bridge with the restored Longfellow Bridge in the background.

The Frances “Fanny” Appleton Bridge is a pedestrian walkway that spans Storrow Drive between Charles Circle and the Esplanade.

Originally known simply as pedestrian bridge No. B16-438 (BKF), the bridge was renamed on May 15, 2014, by state legislative act. The new name celebrates the courtship and marriage of Frances “Fanny” Appleton and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, whose namesake bridge lies just to the east. Work is taking place on both bridges as part of MassDOT’s Longfellow Bridge Rehabilitation Project.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The story of Longfellow and Appleton is like many epic love stories, filled with great romance, but also great tragedy. Longfellow’s first wife died in 1835 while on a grand European tour. He met Fanny Appleton seven months later in Switzerland and wooed her for seven years. While courting Fanny, Longfellow would walk to her family’s home on Beacon Hill across the West Boston Bridge, which was replaced by the current bridge in 1908 (later renamed the Longfellow Bridge). Fanny finally accepted Longfellow’s proposal and they married in 1843.

Frances “Fanny” Appleton

Frances “Fanny” Appleton

By all accounts, the romance never dimmed. Their home, Craigie House, was a meeting place for literary and philosophical figures of the time, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Julia Ward Howe. During their happy marriage, Fanny gave birth to six children. Sadly, in July 1861, Longfellow lost his beloved Fanny when her dress caught fire accidently. He tried desperately to put the fire out, injuring himself in the process. He never quite recovered from the loss. Eighteen years later, Longfellow immortalized his grief in a poem titled The Cross of Snow.

The new Frances “Fanny” Appleton Pedestrian Bridge, left, and the restored Longfellow Bridge, right.

The new Frances “Fanny” Appleton Pedestrian Bridge, left, and the restored Longfellow Bridge, right.

The new Frances Appleton Bridge will be complete in 2017 when the 222-foot span is opened to pedestrian travel. The slender deck arch bridge is designed to protect views of the Esplanade and the Longfellow Bridge. With no center piers, it seems to float above Storrow Drive. It’s fitting that the bridges honoring this celebrated couple sit side-by-side connecting Boston to the historic Esplanade and Cambridge. MassDOT will keep Cupid’s work of long ago alive today with an entirely new and signature Frances Appleton Bridge and a restored, iconic Longfellow Bridge.

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