You may be thinking, “is this a blog about a piece of jewelry?” Nope, it’s about the 1,100 acre park system located in Boston named the Emerald Necklace. Why was this park system named this? Well, the original vision of the parks were that they were planned as if they were hanging from the neck of the peninsula of Boston. The shape of the parks were originally planned to be in the shape of a U to make a necklace but the last portion of the parks never came to fruition.
In the late 1800s, landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted designed this linear park system which goes from the Boston Common in downtown Boston to Franklin Park in Dorchester. While these parks are beautiful any time during the year, fall is a perfect time to visit the parks and take in all the beautiful fall foliage.
Boston Common: Starting in downtown Boston the first park along the Emerald Necklace is the Boston Common. Dating back to 1634, it’s the oldest city park in the United States. The park has had many uses over the years: cow pasture, British camp during the American Revolutionary War, site of public hangings and a site for protests. Now people visit this park to enjoy the outdoors, have a picnic, take a walk, go ice skating on frog pond, play tennis and so much more.
Boston Public Garden: Next is the Boston Public Garden which is the first public botanical garden in the United States. Famous for the Swan Boats and the Make Way for Ducklings Statue, this is a popular park for families to visit. To learn more about this beautiful park, check out the following post: https://beyondthemilestravelblog.com/2020/08/09/make-way-for-the-boston-public-garden/
Commonwealth Ave Mall: Commonwealth Avenue runs from the Public Garden to the suburb of Newton. The section in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston from the Public Garden to Kenmore Square has a park in the middle of the road known as the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. This portion is part of the Emerald Necklace. Walking along the mall, you will come across many statues and memorials including the Boston Women’s Memorial.
Back Bay Fens: Otherwise known as The Fens, this park is located in the Fenway-Kenmore neighborhood of the city and is very close to the historic MLB baseball stadium Fenway Park. In The Fens you will find the Shattuck Visitor’s Center for the Emerald Necklace, World War II Memorial and the James P Kelleher Rose Garden.
The Riverway: This park follows the Muddy River into the neighborhood of Brookline. Nearby this park are many colleges and well known hospitals. The park includes some of the most beautiful bridges in the Emerald Necklace and is a very quiet and perfect spot for a social distanced walk, run or bike ride.
Olmsted Park: Originally named Leverett Park, this park was renamed in 1900 to honor the designer of the Emerald Necklace, Frederick Law Olmsted. This park includes athletic fields and 3 ponds that were created dredging the swampy Muddy River.
Jamaica Pond: Located in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, this 68 acre pond is 53 feet deep at its center. It’s the largest body of fresh water in Boston. It’s a popular area for walking, running, fishing, rowing and sailing. And up until 1929, it was a popular place to go ice skating in the winter.
Arnold Arboretum: Established in 1872 as part of Harvard University, this is the oldest public arboretum in North America. Within the park is the visitor center located in the National Historic Landmark Hunnewell Building and the Weld Hill Research Building. While the Arboretum is beautiful in the fall, it really shines each May when the lilacs bloom. I might be slightly biased as lilacs are my favorite flower.
Franklin Park: The largest of all the parks in the Emerald Necklace, Franklin Park is often considered the “crown jewel” of Olmsted’s work in Boston. It is actually named after Boston born Benjamin Franklin. Within the park there is a golf course, tennis courts, baseball fields and basketball courts. It’s also home to many high school and collegiate cross country meets each year. A popular draw to the park is the 72 acre Franklin Park Zoo. Founded in 1912, it’s the second largest zoo in New England.
If you are visiting Boston, I highly recommend taking a walk along the Emerald Necklace, even if you just check out one or two of the parks. These parks really are a great way to escape city life for a moment.