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Boston's Emerald Necklace

Click on photos to bring up larger versions

Stretching from the Boston Common downtown to the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park in Roslindale and Roxbury, the Emerald Necklace is one of the oldest series of public parks and parkways in the country. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted (better known elsewhere as the designer of New York's Central Park), this park system brings a welcome respite from hectic city life (See the Frederick Law Olmsted Web site for more info on Olmsted).

Jewels in the necklace include:

Boston Common

Frog Pond photo
Welcome summertime relief at the Frog Pond

Located between Tremont, Boylston, Charles and Beacon Streets, the Common was founded in 1634 as a place for Bostonians to graze their livestock. Later, the Puritans used it for hanging Quakers and other heretics. Today, cows are rare, but in the summertime, you'll find plenty of ballplayers, kids enjoying the watersprays at the Frog Pond and office workers loosening their ties at lunchtime.

Getting there:
Take the Green Line or Red Line to Park Street or the Green Line to Boylston.
More info:
What's the deal with the statue of the starving horses?

The Public Garden

Swan Boat photo

Just across Charles Street from the Common, the Public Garden is the oldest public botanical garden in the country. Features include the Swan Boats, the world's shortest suspension bridge and larger-than-life statues of the avian heroes of "Make Way for Ducklings."

Getting there:
Take the Green Line to Arlington Street.
More info:
More photos of the Garden

Commonwealth Mall

Running west from the Garden to the Muddy River at Charlesgate, the Mall consists of the center strip of Commonwealth Avenue, as well as a number of statues, including one of Leif Eriksson.

More info:
See the Wicked Good Guide to Bizarro Boston's history page for an explanation of the Eriksson statue.

The Back Bay Fens

The Fens start inauspiciously at the hideous overpass at Charlesgate, then run to the Sears Building at the start of the Longwood Medical District. Features Victory Gardens where residents raise vegetables and flowers. Gained fame a few years ago, when a real-life Boston police officer helped a real-life duck and her ducklings cross a busy road.

The Riverway

From Landmark Center (the former Sears Building) to Rte. 9, it runs along the Muddy River. At Rte. 9, bicyclists and pedestrians either have to cross Rte. 9 or take their chances with crazed Boston drivers on the Riverway overpass.

Olmsted Park

From Rte. 9 south to Perkins Street, just before Jamaica Pond. Just south of Rte. 9 is a prime location for seeing ducks, swans and geese. Some great sledding toward Jamaica Pond.

Jamaica Pond

Boston's first drinking-water reservoir, Jamaica Pond today is a great place to jog or walk. Rent a sailboat or go to a summertime concert. Some amazing mansions along the Jamaicaway stretch of the pond.

More info:
Wildlife at the pond

Arnold Arboretum

Owned by Harvard University, the Arboretum features thousands of trees, as well as numerous winding paths for strolling. Lilac Sunday, in May, offers a rare chance to have a picnic on the Arboretum grounds.

Getting there:
Take the Orange Line to Forest Hills.
More info:
Arboretum Web site

Franklin Park

South of Seaver and Walnut Streets, and the largest single piece of the Necklace (more than 500 acres), the park includes the Franklin Park Zoo, an 18-hole golf course and hiking trails.

Getting there:
Take the Orange Line to Forest Hills, then the number 16 bus to the zoo.
More info:
Zoo New England - runs the zoo.

For more information on the Emerald Necklace, call the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, (617) 635-4505.

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