back bay

In that the word back typically refers to a feature seen as “behind” some other feature, it follows that Back Bay is the region behind the city of Boston, which faces the ocean. Boston’s Back Bay is not a natural feature but was formed by the construction of a long milldam in 1814. The intent of Massachusetts legislators when they ordered the building of the dam was to stop the flow of water to 430 acres of tidal flats near the Charles River and reroute the water to hydropower plants. The result of this construction was an enormous, boggy swamp, which the city began to fill in 1857. Some of the city’s most notable landmarks, including Trinity Church, were built on the earth fill of Back Bay. Another Back Bay, located on the coast southeast of Norfolk, Virginia, includes a watershed that covers 104 square miles and contains 40 square miles of surface water, the average depth of which is four feet. Here the Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, more than 8,000 acres in size, was established in 1938 as a refugia and breeding area for migratory birds

Lan Samantha Chang