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Are Boston’s Streets Really Paved Over Cow Paths? | MotorBiscuit

Many tourists have discovered that driving in some parts of Boston can be really confusing. Between the winding curving roads and the one-way streets, sometimes it feels like you just can’t get there from here. How did some Boston streets get a confusing layout that causes such difficulty for cars?

The story of Boston’s cow paths

As the legend goes, Bostonians followed cow paths to determine their roads, creating a street layout that doesn’t look planned. According to Boston Magazine, even Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote about this story in 1860, saying, “We say the cows laid out Boston. Well, there are worse surveyors.”

There were cows in Boston in the colonial days. Computer Images explains that Boston Common, today a public park, was set aside for public purposes like militia training, chores, recreation, and grazing cows. The cows weren’t banned from Boston Common until 1830.

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