By Bob Weiss, Travel Contributor

BOSTON (CBS) – A half-a-mile apart on the waterfront, the old and the new Boston were very much in evidence on Monday.

At the Moakley Court House, final arguments were being heard on the day before the Whitey Bulger trial was set to begin. It is expected to last well into the fall. At the same time, the Commonwealth Pier, now known as The World Trade Center, was celebrating its 100th Anniversary.

About 150 invited guests gathered to hear how Fidelity Investments and Massport teamed up in 1982 to sign a long-term lease that led to the growth of the waterfront that is now the fastest growing area of the city.

The man most responsible for making The World Trade Center become a reality was John Drew who developed the first floor of the pier into The World Trade Center hosting shows and events throughout the year.

When it was opened in 1913, Commonwealth Pier was the largest covered pier in the world. It was 400 feet wide and 1,200 feet long.

During 1914, the White Star Line and the Hamberg-American Line were the major occupants of the pier, along with fishing vessels. The Fish Pier next door was completed a year later in 1914.

Fidelity started moving employees to the waterfront location in the early 1980’s and financed the Seaport Hotel that opened in 1998, across the street from The World Trade Center.

The opening of The Ted Williams Tunnel to Logan Airport, the cleanup of Boston Harbor, the Silver Line MBTA service and the Greenway project opened up the area to development. Another major advancement took place when the new and larger Boston Convention & Exhibition Center opened in 1994.

“When I came here 29 years ago, the area was full of railroad yards,” said John Drew who is developing a new mixed use tower across the street from the Seaport Hotel. The first 12 floors will be opening next January.

The one person that should have been honored at today’s celebration was Fidelity Chairman Ned Johnson, who shies away from the spotlight.

Six or seven years ago, I did a brief interview with Johnson at the opening of a Seaport office building.

“I like the water and had confidence in Boston and the waterfront,” was his reply.

He has seen it all.

Bob Weiss reports on business travel on Mondays at 5:55 a.m. on WBZ NewsRadio 1030.


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