Streets of Brookline

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Reservoir Lane, 1898
[Reservoir Lane View1] This view is taken roughly from the railroad tracks (today’s “D” line) behind the Metropolitan Water Works Pumping Station and is the first in line of a sequence of photos of Reservoir Lane as it goes southward to Boylston St.

In the center rear is the first house built by Michael McGrady on his property of 8 acres. He purchased the Learned family land in 1865 and built the house around that time, it was torn down in 1901. Circa 1889-1890 he built the house in the foreground and a barn that is off screen to the left. Both are still standing at 57 Reservoir Lane. After McGrady’s death in 1912, Ernest Dane bought the land and raised vegetables for his large Chestnut Hill estate at 400 Heath Street.

Reservoir Lane is one of the earliest roads in Brookline and was originally a section in the trail used by Native Americans to travel from Roxbury to Nonantum Hill in Newton. In 1905, the lane became today’s Reservoir Road, a new section was added on the north end connecting to Middlesex Rd., and only a small length of the lane remains by Middlesex Rd.

In 1892, author Bradford Kingman described the lane as “one of the wildest and most picturesque spots, and the land thereabouts such as anyone who had never explored would hardly suppose could be found within the limits of such a town as Brookline, and so near to Boston. The present lane is narrow, rocky, winding, steep, up hill and down vale, bordered with briars and gay with wild flowers, or attractive with berries in their season.”

[Courtesy of the Digital Commonwealth (CC BY-NC-ND). From the Metropolitan District Commission, Water Division, Metropolitan Water Works Photograph Collection, 1876-1930]