QUINCY (CBS) – You might have heard Quincy referred to as the “Granite City.” The nickname is well earned. The city was once the center of the granite-mining industry in the country.
“In 1909, 146 granite sheds were working here in the city,” Al Bina toldWBZ-TV. He has studied the history of Quincy’s granite business for decades.
The first granite quarry opened in 1828, supplying granite for construction of the Bunker Hill Monument in Charlestown.
“It was an extremely hard granite because it had absolutely no mica in it,” Bina says. “That’s what made it so desirable.”
But eventually, because of globalization, the granite-business started to dry up. Most of the quarries were abandoned by the 1960s, and water started to fill in, and the quarries became a popular swimming spot.
Popular. And deadly. Several kids died hitting the ledge on the way down. Others drowned as the city struggled to supervise more than 20 quarries throughout the city.
By 2000, city leaders had had enough of the tragedies and decided to use dirt from the Big Dig to fill in those swimming holes.
That led to a new era for the quarries – where graffiti art and rock climbing have become very popular.
“They’re picnicking, they’re rock-climbing, they’re just coming to walk around looking at the graffiti,” says Bina.
Right down the street, on Ricciuti Drive, Bina has now set up a museum, called the Quincy Quarry and Granite Workers Museum.
You can go there to learn more about the history of the quarries and even cut granite for yourself with the technique used by the workers all those years ago.
Visit quincyquarrymuseum.org to learn more.