The Importance of Boston’s Greenspace:
I’ve lived in Boston most of my life, and my #1 favorite thing about this city is the network of parks that stretch across it — a feature poetically named: The Emerald Necklace.
This 1,200-acre park system was created by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880s and consists of a chain of greenspace. It serves both a practical and a psychological function. On the practical side, it diminishes flooding and cleans our air.
On the psychological side, our network of parks keep us sane! Olmsted was a visionary who gave the incredible gift to our city of public, protected nature — free for us all to enjoy. I cannot underestimate to you the importance of the Emerald Necklace in making Boston wonderful.
What are the Parks in the Emerald Necklace?
Each individual park — or “jewel” — of the necklace boasts different features, and the entire chain is roughly seven miles long. The distinct sections of the greenspace chain are, moving north to south:
- Boston Common (which dates back to 1634 and is likely the most famous of all our parks!)…
- Boston Public Garden (likely the most photographed park by tourists, thanks to its Swan Boats and classic beauty)…
- The Commonwealth Ave. Mall (a lovely green pedestrian walkway in the middle of a long straight road which begins at the Public Garden)…
- The Back Bay Fens (ever wonder where the name “Fenway” came from in “Fenway Park?”)…
- The Riverway, Aborway, and Jamaicaway (winding, green-lined roads along the waterways)…
- Jamaica Pond and Olmsted Park…
- The Arnold Arboretum…
- Finally, Franklin Park (biggest of them all)!
Which Emerald Necklace Park to Visit?
I’m glad you asked! The answer is easy: as many as possible. Most visitors to Boston — and many locals for that matter — are only familiar with the Public Garden or Boston Common (NOT “Boston Commons!” There is no “s!”). There are so many other not-to-miss green-spaces in the park network, however!
What follows is an exploration of several of them. I will periodically add to this article as I have time to photograph and write about more parts of this Bostonian wonder. Now, enjoy our wander though the parks!
Photo Ideas in the Emerald Necklace
There are some excellent spots to take pictures in Boston's parks! Here are some articles that feature modeling poses and locations in the Emerald Necklace. I bet you can guess from this my favorite backdrop for pictures in our city!
Emerald Necklace Activities and Festivals
There are constantly events going on in Boston's parks, but here are two of my favorite things to do.
Emerald Necklace Maps and Resources:
For a detailed map of the Emerald Necklace park system — or individual park maps — click here and the Emerald Necklace Conservancy has you covered.
The nonprofit Conservancy plays a key role in maintaining our city’s greenspace, and we are extremely thankful to its tireless work. It also offers a frequently-updated event listing for what’s going on in the Emerald Necklace at any given time… and there’s always a lot going on! But my favorite activity is just to stroll and observe.
A Lesson About Urban Parks and Boston:
As a teacher, I can’t help but recommend an excellent resource for learning about the development of urban parks in America. Heck — you may even want to browse it for yourself, even if you’re not a fellow educator!
The National Park Service provides a number of resources for schools, and this lesson on the Emerald Necklace has fabulous resources. Thanks, NPS!
What Do YOU Think of Boston’s Famous Parks?
After reading that list, what jumps out at you about our extensive park system? Which park is most alluring to YOU? Do share!