Boston's City Parks
What's Going On With Parks In Boston
Boston’s Climate Plan Improves Public Parks
September 2020 brought Climate Ready Boston, a report detailing Boston’s plan to create a more resilient and climate-resistant Harborfront. At the time of its release, elements of the project had already been undertaken the previous year. The Climate Preparedness Task Force convened in 2013 and released its findings in 2016. The fruit of its labors provides a comprehensive overview of climate change’s effects on the city. Each neighborhood’s stakeholders worked in groups and were tasked with identifying vulnerabilities to a changing climate’s shifting and destructive impact.
North End’s Langone Park
In late February 2021, Boston Parks and Recreation announced the completion of improvements to the North End’s Langone Park and Puopolo Athletic Field. The parks’ location, 529-543 Commercial Street, is also the Boston Molasses Flood site. They sit adjacent to one another and lie between North End Beach/Harborwalk and the rest of the city.
BPR notes that the work “included integrating a retaining wall... to provide up to 6 feet of flood protection without walling the park off from the Harbor; stabilizing the existing, degraded seawall and elevating a new Harborwalk path on micro piles; capturing and directing stormwater through outfalls with internal tide gates; and designing sports courts that can temporarily store stormwater and recover quickly from major storm events.” The improvements provide a new layer of protection from further coastal erosion and other damage from storm surges, flash flooding, and events like King Tides.
According to the press release, the newly refreshed park features a natural turf Little League baseball field, a versatile multi-sport synthetic turf field, a universal-access playground, plaza space with accessible seating, bocce, and basketball courts, and a memorial garden.
Resilient Boston Harbor
Resilient Boston Harbor and Coastal Resilience Solutions for East Boston and Charlestown are the guiding documents for the city’s ongoing improvements. The projected timeline for all mitigation work details plans through the next fifty years; however, it indicates that the timetable can, and should, change due to shifting climate events. The project’s direction and timeline are expected to evolve as needed.
More Boston Harborfront Improvements Planned
Working in groups, stakeholders investigated the unique challenges faced by their individual neighborhoods. In an approach that customizes needed improvements based on each district’s needs, the committees prioritized enacting solutions to address “catalytic action,” with an immediate need for mitigation stretching from Long Wharf to Christopher Columbus Park. Harborfront improvements continue with a projected completion date of 2030. As of this date, many critical issues have been addressed with mitigation measures along the Harborfront. The recently reopened Langone and Puopolo sites were within the second priority set or “near-term” improvement.
City Parks and Recreation Facilities in Boston
According to BPR’s website, Boston boasts “217 City parks, playgrounds, and athletic fields, two golf courses, 65 squares, 17 fountains, 75 game courts.” The department is also responsible for maintaining 16 historical and three active cemeteries, urban wilds, four High School Athletic Fields, and approximately 125,000 trees. The department is organized into five units and has more than 200 full-time employees.
Angell Memorial Park
Two structures exist on this traffic island park located at the convergence of Milk/Congress/Pearl Streets, also known as Post Office Square. Boston’s schoolchildren collected donations to erect the first and more prominent of the two. A plaque on the monument reads, “Erected in memory of George Thorndike Angell by the school children of Boston, the City of Boston and the societies he founded - The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty for Animals and the American Humane Education Society.”
The Creature Pond, a sculpture featuring a lily pond with ducks and frogs, joined the Angell Memorial in 1992.
NB: Be wary of traffic when crossing the busy intersection to this tiny triangle!
Charter Street Park
This charming park won’t provide many diversions for the kiddos, but it’s a lovely and peaceful place for adults who need to take a breather. There are a few benches on the cobblestones set amongst the brownstones where people like to sit and enjoy the quiet scenery. It’s well-lighted at night and open 24 hours. (21P Charter Street)
Named for a North End resident killed while serving in World War 1, this park is a popular spot for elementary schoolers and serves as a school playground. Featuring a basketball court and play structures, this park is due for renovations. (9 Stillman St)
Tai Tung Park
This park is one of the smallest in the city, measuring only 0.3 acres. It’s great for the preschool crowd and features play structures for children ages 2-5. (110 Tyler St)
The Boston Urban Wilds Initiative (UWI) website states that it “has its roots in the environmental movement of the 1970s.” UWI leads conservation efforts to maintain natural areas on publicly- and privately-owned land; The researchers identified 143 locations needing conservancy. The project is ongoing.
Natural areas within and around the city serve as climate mitigation measures and as a refuge for people and animals alike; however, a vast number of these verdant spaces have been eliminated or significantly reduced due to human influence. Crucial benefits of these essential ecosystems include producing oxygen and reducing carbon, filtering and storing stormwater runoff, and easing the ill effects of urban “heat islands.” Marshes, wetlands, forests, streams, and wildlife contribute to the overall quality of life and health of city dwellers. These tiny gems are oases within urban development and help educate people about the natural world.
Whichever park you decide to visit, you will find that getting there is half the fun! Enjoy the city while you learn about its history. Relish new flavors. Get on a boat. Ride the T. Take photos and have fun. It’s all right outside your door.
The Boston Public Garden
The Boston Public Garden was America's first public garden. You'll need a couple of hours to see it all on foot. Items of interest within this park include:
- Statue of George Washington
- Four Bronze Statues
- Bronze Portrait Statues
- Japanese Lantern
- George Robert White Memorial
- The Small Fountains
- Duckling Sculpture
- 9/11 Memorial