NeedhamStreetAfter a unanimous vote of the Historical Commission, Newton is about to get its first new landmark in fifteen years: 40 feet of railroad that crosses Needham Street.

The landmark is the only remaining rail from the historic railway that once ran a mile parallel to Needham Street, with a curving spur across Needham Street to industrial properties. Conservation Planner Eustace Tilley acknowledges that historic preservation efforts lagged the nearly completed grassroots project to convert the old railway to a linear park. “All the other rail had been pulled up by the time we realized what we were losing. Dead in the middle of Needham Street isn’t the ideal location for a historic landmark, but you take what you can get.”

Tilley says that the landmark designation will prevent the city and state from tearing up the rails, even as part of the long-delayed, but right-around-the-corner Needham Street reconstruction. “The rail will be preserved, along with the missing pavement on both sides. Local residents will enjoy the thump of car tires over the rails for years to come, a lasting tribute to the rich historical legacy of the area.”