Parks Win Boston Two Awards

The American Planning Association (APA) named the Emerald Necklace as one of the 10 great Public Spaces for 2010! The Emerald Necklace is a term coined by planners to describe some of the magnification parks in Boston. It refers to the image created by the parks as they curve through Boston. It is the only surviving linear park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted . This jewel of Boston parkland extends seven miles from Boston Common to Franklin Park.

Boston doesn’t stop winning there! The Back Bay was also ranked as one of the top ten neighborhoods in the country. Our two parks – The Commonwealth Avenue Mall and Boston Public Garden – are a major component of what defines the Back Bay.

Want more information? See the blurb on the Back Bay on the APA website and the press release below written by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy!


Boston, MA – The American Planning Association (APA) today announced the designation of the Emerald Necklace as one of 10 Great Public Spaces for 2010 under the organization’s Great Places in America program. APA Great Places exemplify exceptional character and highlight the role planners and planning play in creating communities of lasting value.

Through Great Places in America, APA recognizes unique and authentic characteristics found in three essential components of all communities – streets, neighborhoods, and public spaces. APA Great Places offer better choices for where and how people work and live every day and are defined by many things including planning efforts, architectural styles, accessibility, and community involvement.

APA singled out the Emerald Necklace as an iconic example of public park planning and design concepts espoused by famous landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Additionally, the nine public spaces of the Necklace, six of which were designed by Olmsted, are easily accessible to all area residents, feature a plethora of activities and link some of Boston’s most popular destinations.

“We’re honored to name the Emerald Necklace as one of this year’s Great Public Spaces,” said APA Chief Executive Officer Paul Farmer, FAICP. “Boston has a jewel [of a park system] here. Its success is the result of foresight by early residents, exemplary planning, and an ongoing commitment to protect and maintain these public spaces,” he added.

The 1,100 acre chain of nine urban parks was born out of a notion amongst Boston’s elite that parks were necessary for their first-class city. Not wanting to be outdone by New York City, which selected Frederick Law Olmsted to design Central Park, Boston’s upper crust influenced the city to approach Olmsted about designing park space for Boston, too.

The colonial-era Boston Common, the nation’s oldest public park, along with the Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall were well established when Olmsted arrived in Boston. Olmsted’s design, and the filling of Back Bay tidal land, would lead the city in 1874 to embark on the largest construction project in its history: linking natural waterways and landscaping parks around them in a continuous ribbon.

With the Emerald Necklace, Olmsted created a series of parks suited to Boston’s unique topography and easily accessible to the entire city. The inter-connected parks touch 11 neighborhoods in Boston and Brookline– Beacon Hill, Brookline Village, Chinatown, Back Bay, Fenway, Longwood, Mission Hill, Jamaica Plain, Forest Hills, Roslindale and Dorchester. The parks also are catered to by 20 stops on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Green and Orange lines and more than 40 bus routes.

The entire Necklace was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. The Friends of the Public Garden, a non-profit group formed in the 1970s, provides volunteer and financial support through private donors to Boston’s three original parks – Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The Emerald Necklace Conservancy, established in 1996, brings people together to renew, enliven and advocate for Olmsted’s six parks, providing 20,000 volunteer hours annually along with generous financial support.

Since APA began Great Places in America in 2007, 40 Neighborhoods, 40 Streets and 30 Public Spaces have been designated in 47 states and the District of Columbia.

The nine other APA 2010 Great Public Spaces are: Bryant Park in New York City, NY; Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden in Birmingham, AL; Fountain Square in Bowling Green, KY; Percival Landing Boardwalk and Park in Olympia, WA; Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, PA; Campus Martius Park in Detroit, MI; Main Plaza in San Antonio, TX; Plaza Real in Boca Raton, FL; and the Ferry Building in San Francisco, CA.

For more information about these public spaces, as well as lists of the 2010 APA 10 Great Neighborhoods and 10 Great Streets, and designations between 2007 and 2009, visit This year’s Great Places in America will be celebrated as part of APA’s National Community Planning Month in October 2010; for more about the special month, visit

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