Flush With Pride

Tour the giant plant that’s cleaning Boston Harbor.



aris has its sewers and Rome its catacombs, but one of Boston’s most unusual attractions has to be the $3.4 billion sewage treatment plant that’s reversing 350 years of dumping sewage straight into the famously polluted harbor. Now dolphins, loons and harbor seals have returned, harbor beaches are back in business, and the sewer plant on Deer Island, second-largest in the country (the largest is Detroit’s), has quietly opened for tours. So big employees ride bicycles to get around it, the 212-acre complex treats 450 million gallons a day of waste. You can go to the top of its 16 giant egg-shaped tanks, 14 stories tall, which offer unparalleled harbor views. The views on the boat ride to the plant past the city’s skyline, and from the island, aren’t bad either. Marcus



Native Americans were confined, and about 500 died of exposure, on Deer Island during King Philip’s War in the 1670s. In the late 1840s, the island was the site of a hospital for arriving immigrants, most of them Irish fleeing the potato famine. Some 800 of them died.