cxcxcxThe controversy over the Charles River Bridge dated as far back as October 15, 1640 when the Massachusetts legislature, in accordance with common law, assumed control over public ferries. The legislature proceeded to give Harvard College the power to run a ferry on the Charles River between Boston and Charlestown. Harvard continued to operate the ferry, and collect its profits until 1785. That year, a group of men petitioned the state legislature to build a bridge across the river due to the inconvenience of the ferry. As time had passed, the two towns had grown and communication between them had become more important, and technology was at a point now where a bridge appeared to be a wise economic undertaking. The request was granted and the Charles River Bridge Company was given permission to build a bridge and collect tolls for 40 years, but during those 40 years the company would have to pay 200 pounds (or ~$670) to Harvard College annually in order to make up for the profits the college would lose from the ferry. After 40 years of collecting tolls, the company would turn the bridge over to the state, but the government would still have to pay Harvard annually. The bridge was a giant success. It made large profits and proved to be very convenient. As a result, plans to construct more bridges were set into motion. In 1792, the Massachusetts legislature gave another company a charter to build a bridge, across the same river, betweenCambridge and Boston. The second bridge was 275 yards from the first one, but the proprietors of the first bridge still complained. The owners of the Charles River Bridge argued to the legislature that building the second bridge would take away traffic and revenue from the first bridge. The legislature responded by giving the proprietors of the Charles River Bridge another 30 years to collect tolls. -------------------------------------------------
As more time passed, the population of Boston increased, as...
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