y Meg Crane
On the outskirts of Boston, in Quincy, Massachusetts, a local attraction fascinates with a rich combination of history, nature and art.
The Quincy Quarries became a dangerous place after production was shut down in 1963 and the abandoned granite quarry filled with ground and rain water. This wasn’t inherently dangerous, but quarry jumping soon became a popular activity among teenagers.
Shallow pools can still be seen around the quarries, but nothing compared to the deep waters of previous years. To deter jumpers from leaping off the 70 to 100 foot cliffs, police initially placed poles around the outskirts where people jumped. Made of wood, they quickly became waterlogged and fell only two feet below the murky surface, where dumped cars, shopping carts and other debris also gathered. This only increased the danger to quarry jumpers. But those days are gone.
The main pits have been filled with dirt that was dug up for highway tunnels in Massachusetts and nature is reclaiming the area. The flat space between cliffs where many daredevils lost their lives is overrun with grass and wild flowers. Bushes and trees obscure some of the graffiti from the cliff’s base and determined plants grow along its edge, popping out of cracks at the tops and hiding some of the older paint.
As nature battles to take back her land, humans still visit, but in a much more respectful and safe manner. But some still leave their mark.
Nearly every cliff surface is covered by graffiti. From the vulgar to the political to the silly, there’s no theme. Except, perhaps, respect. Among the possibly hundreds of penises are pieces that show support to the queer community. And there’s a tremendous amount of hate for Donald Trump.
The scenery is in constant flux with new art frequently being added, sometimes covering what was there and other times reaching heights not yet attempted.
It’s not just artists who are scaling the cliff’s walls. The Quincy Quarries have been a draw to climbers since before the pits were even filled in. During the ’70s, several climbing guides specific to the area were released and bolted routes are still frequented today.
It’s not unusual for people to wander into the quarries simply to observe, but they add to the vibe. Climbers stop to wave to cameras pointed in their direction. This is a place where everyone comes together.
The Boston’s Metropolitan District Commission has owned the Quincy Quarries Reservation since 1985. For the foreseeable future, the quarries will remain in this current state of constant cosmetic change. Artists will come to add their mark. Plants will root and flourish along the rocks. Climbers will explore well-worn and new routes. And they’ll all get to enjoy the area together.
Meg Crane is a freelance writer and editor. Having struggled with anxiety and depression her whole life, she helps other freelancers and creatives learn how to take care of their mental health while pursuing the work they love. Learn more at megjcrane.com.