Most cities build without regard for greenery, or if they have any greenery it is limited or suffocated by the surrounding skyscrapers, concrete sidewalks, and expansive highways. Being an avid hiker, camper, and general nature enthusiast, I was definitely bummed to be moving to a city where I had no access to a car get out of the city. Before I moved to Boston, ‘the city’ was Philadelphia or New York, big cities with limited greenery, smoggy air, and the constant sounds of traffic, and which both require driving quite a ways from the city before you come across greenery worth stopping for.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that the city of Boston is not only rich with foliage but it is well maintained foliage. There are trees that seem to be the tallest things in sight, vibrant flowers you can smell before you see them, and nature you can just get lost in. Boston wasn’t always like this and if someone hadn’t stepped in during urbanization, it probably would have never happened.
Frederick Law Olmsted: sound familiar? Probably not. I most certainly did not know his name, or who he was, until I looked a little further into the Emerald Necklace Parks. Frederick Law Olmsted was, among other things, a landscape architect, farmer, and manager of public and private projects. He protected and worked on great iconic landscapes such as Niagara Falls, Central Park and Yosemite National Park, and he designed what we know today as Boston’s Emerald Necklace.
There are 6 jewels on Boston’s necklace: the Back Bay Fens, The Riverway, Olmsted Park, Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park. The Back Bay Fens, or more commonly called just The Fens, are regarded as the first park on the Necklace. Anyone can enjoy the Fens by taking a stroll through the beautiful Kelleher Rose Garden or you can become a part of the community by helping out at the Community Garden.
The Riverway was originally marshland that was transformed into parkland. The Riverway provides a gazebo, stone bridges, and quiet paths away from bustling Brookline Avenue. Named in honor of the park’s designer, Olmsted Park provides a field of daisies, a string of fresh water ponds, and the opportunity to take a moment and breath. A frequented favorite, Jamaica Pond offers fishing and boating. Along with its boat house, Jamaica Pond is home to the Boston Park Ranger Nature Center. Leased and managed by Harvard University, the next of the beautiful jewels is the Arnold Arboretum, home to 4,000 woody plants and 15,000 trees, shrubs, and vines. It is the best place to explore and learn about nature. And last but most certainly not least, Franklin Park is the largest park of the jewels. With 15 miles of pedestrian walkway, Franklin Park grants those willing to explore the space to do so. Whether you visit one or all of these parks, you will never regret spending a day getting lost in the city.
These green spaces not only provide a unique and stunning landscape to Boston, but they also provide public facilities such as basketball courts, tennis courts, a running track, baseball fields, playgrounds, open spaces for picnics, bike trails, places to sail and fish, and even a zoo. These parks give Bostonians a place to maintain their healthy active lifestyles and a place for future generations to do the same. In addition to aiding human inhabitants of Boston, the Emerald Necklace provides a safe and healthy home for the wildlife that calls Boston home.
So thank you, Mr. Olmstead, and the hardworking individuals at The Emerald Necklace Conservancy, for protecting the trees, the flowers, the grass, the dirt, and everything that lives within the vegetation. Without you, Boston would never have gained its valuable emerald jewels.
– Margo, FutureBoston Intern
This is the first in a seven part series on Boston’s beautiful Emerald Necklace.