A granite bridge, seen here in 2016, replaced the iron bridge that failed under the weight of an inbound passenger train in 1887. Photo by Pi.1415926535 | CC BY-SA 3.0

What: The Forest Hills Disaster
When: March 14, 1887
Where: Bussey Bridge, Roslindale

  • One of America’s first rail disasters to be covered nation-wide killed 38 people but sparked significant homebuyer interest in what was then bucolic countryside. 
  • The nightmarish incident, caused by a poorly-designed bridge and a lack of safety regulations, attracted hundreds of spectators.  
  • By some accounts, these gawkers returned home with stories of how easy it was to reach downtown Boston from Roslindale via a growing network of streetcars, helping set off a local development boom. 

“Roslindale was really considered the country back then. We had a big population boom after the crash and that’s the cause. … No one knew much about [the neighborhood] before it happened.” 

— Former Roslindale Historical Society President Cathy Slade to the Roslindale Transcript newspaper in 2012 

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, Banker & Tradesman is highlighting significant moments in the history of Massachusetts’ real estate and banking industries. To suggest a topic, email editorial@thewarrengroup.com.

This Month in History: The Forest Hills Disaster

by James Sanna time to read: 1 min