Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden with Keith N. Morgan

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The Friends of the Public Garden presents “Searching for the Histories of Boston’s Public Garden,” a lecture by Boston University Professor Keith N. Morgan.

Join us as we consider the creation, evolution, criticism, interpretation and enduring value of the most unusual public landscape in the city’s circuit of parks. From its origins as a private botanical garden built on filled marshland to the public horticultural and educational gem of the mid-Victorian era, the Public Garden became a site for controversy and celebration in its nearly two-century history.

Keith N. Morgan is a professor of History of Art and Architecture at Boston University, where he has taught since 1980. He has served as the Director of Preservation Studies, the Director of American and New England Studies, and the Chairman of the Art History Department. He is a former national president of the Society of Architectural Historians.

His publications include Charles A. Platt. The Artist as Architect (1985); Boston Architecture, 1975-1990, written with Naomi Miller (1990); Shaping an American Landscape: The Art and Architecture of Charles A. Platt (1995); the introduction for the new edition of Italian Gardens by Charles A. Platt (1993); and an introduction to a new edition of Charles Eliot, Landscape Architect (1999).   Professor Morgan was the editor and one of the lead authors for Buildings of Massachusetts: Metropolitan Boston, (2009).   With Elizabeth Hope Cushing and Roger Reed, he has recently published Community by Design: the Olmsted Office and the Development of Brookline, Massachusetts, 1880-1936, (Library of American Landscape History and the University of Massachusetts Press 2013).

Wednesday, February 4
6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Suffolk University Law School
120 Tremont Street, Boston
Admission: $15.00 per person (Pre-registration is required. Photo ID is needed to check-in.)
Purchase tickets

Boston Red Sox Coming to Boston Common

Celebrate America’s pastime as the Boston Red Sox, the Highland Street Foundation, and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department team up to bring three Red Sox away games to the Boston Common on Sunday, July 27.  Bring a blanket to watch the game on the big screen and cheer on the Red Sox! Everyone is welcome at this free event featuring live viewing of the game, caricaturists, balloon artists, face painters, giveaways, and refreshments.  Special guests include Red Sox mascot Wally, Red Sox DJ TJ Connelly, Announcer Henry Mahegan, Organist Josh Kantor, and the Hot Tamales Brass Band.

Sunday, July 27, 1:40 p.m. – Boston Common, corner of Charles and Beacon Streets, Boston



Gathering with Friends to Celebrate Summer


The Friends of the Public Garden will be hosting A Summer Party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on July 23rd from 5:30-7:30pm. Join us to celebrate summer with festive hors d’oeuvres, drinks and friends while supporting the parks! Proceeds from the party will help the Friends preserve and enhance the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall.

Tickets $75, are available for purchase online or by calling 617-723-8144.

Five things you didn’t know about “Make Way for Ducklings”

Friends of the Public Garden Duckling Day


You’ve posed your kids for photos at the famous sculptures.  You’ve followed Mrs. Mallard through countless bedtimes and story hours.  You’ve shown your Boston pride by gifting the book at baby showers near and far…but here’s a few little-known facts that make a local favorite even more fun:

5. The author, Robert McCloskey, kept a family of ducklings in the bathtub of his apartment as he was writing the book. His tolerant roommate at the time, Marc Simont, also went on to become a famous children’s book writer.  And in case you were thinking that might be fun? McCloskey noted, ”Ducks start quacking at the break of day, very loudly and emphatically.”

4. The duckling sculptures that the Friends of the Public Garden had made and placed in the Garden in 1987 exist in just one other place – Moscow!  Raisa Gorbachev fell in love with the ducklings on a visit to Boston, and former First Lady Barbara Bush presented them to Raisa during a 1991 summit meeting.

3. Make Way for Ducklings is the official children’s book of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts….and it’s best enjoyed with some chocolate chip cookies – the official cookie of Massachusetts!

2. The mystery of how to pronounce “Ouack” has never been solved: some prefer “Oh-ack” and others “Oooh-ack”!

1. Registration is now open for Duckling Day, a beloved Mother’s Day tradition for over 30 years!  It’s a morning of fun for the whole family organized by the Friends of the Public Garden.  Dress up the kids in their duckling best and enjoy entertainment and games on Boston Common – with a free mini-massage for Mom!  The famous Harvard Band will lead a parade to the Make Way for Ducklings statues.  The event comes courtesy of the non-profit Friends of the Public Garden.


Public Garden Lagoon is Ready for the Swans

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

The water has returned to the Public Garden lagoon and the swans will soon follow. On Saturday, April 19th, humans boat operators will help the historic Swan Boats paddle passengers on scenic tours of the lagoon and garden. Mayor Martin J. Walsh will host the first Swan Boat ride of the season. “I’m proud to be joining the Paget family and Bostonians of all ages to celebrate 138 years of the Boston Swan Boats,” said Mayor Walsh. “As millions of residents and visitors already know, springtime is a great time to enjoy a ride around the Public Garden lagoon surrounded by the park’s greenery and flowers coming into bloom for the season.”

Students from Boston Public Schools including the Ellis Mendell Elementary School in Roxbury and the Chittick Elementary School in Mattapan will join Mayor Walsh on the first ride of the year.

On Wednesday, April 30, Romeo and Juliet will headline the Return of the Swans event. When they enter the lagoon, with much fanfare, for their inaugural paddle of the season, they are sure to appreciate the recent restoration project completed in their spring/summer home. The Boston Parks and Recreation Department restored the granite edge of the lagoon with a project that took about five weeks to complete and was done at a price tag of $264,000. According to Ryan Woods, Director of External Relations for the Parks Department, “This restoration work will help the Parks Department control a consistent water level and make the lagoon more sustainable.”

The Friends is looking forward to these two exciting rites of spring that showcase how people enjoy and connect with our treasured greenspaces. We would love to hear about ways you connect with our parks – the Common, Garden, and Mall. Please leave a comment or email us at

Back Bay Bell Ringers and other events you won’t want to miss!

The holiday season is a time for sharing, a time for showing our appreciation of our loved ones and a time for reflecting on those things for which we are grateful. Too often those values are forgotten as the frenzy of shopping and gift giving takes over. This week we’d like to announce some wonderful events that will help you focus on what’s really important this holiday season.

The Back Bay Bell Ringers will delight crowds on the Boston Common and Commonwealth Avenue Mall with some old fashioned holiday cheer. Their simple melodies capture the simple beauty of the holiday season. It’s quite captivating to hear the music that can be produced ringing a few bells. See the flyer below for a listing of performances this winter. All performances are free and held in outdoor locations.

Additionally, FOPG board member Margaret Pokorny will be speaking on the history of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall on December 13 at the Boston Public Library. The talk is free and open to the public.

Winston Churchill once named the Commonwealth Avenue Mall “the grandest boulevard in North America,”- to this day, the Mall still lives up to that description. This Thursday, Margaret Pokorny will be giving a highly anticipated talk at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square about this beloved landmark. Margaret serves on the boards for Friends of the Public Garden, Friends of Copley Square, the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, and the Esplanade Association. She will discuss the Mall’s inception, landscape design and importance. Her lecture is also part of the Boston Public Library’s Building Boston initiative, which celebrates Boston’s public spaces. You can visit the BPL’s website to learn more about the initiative.

The Grandest Boulevard: Commonwealth Avenue Mall
Thursday, December 13, 2012
Boston Public Library – Copley Square

FOPG events

Get Ready for September 29th

Make Way for Ducklings, photo from Nancy Shön’s website

The last Saturday of September is bringing with it a whirlwind of events in Boston! In addition to our highly anticipated 25th birthday celebration of Nancy Shön’s Make Way for Ducklings statue, will be host “Running with the Bridesmaids” at the Common and the Boston Natural Areas Network is having a tree planting in Dorchester. These three events will make for an exciting day in the Boston area!

Your day may begin at 10am donning your favorite (or least favorite) bridesmaid dress and a good pair of running shoes. You meet at the Boston Common as a team or a lone runner. A horn will blow and you will run, skip, hop or prance through the park. Not only will it be good fun, but the mile-long run can be your source of exercise for the day. Be aware, however, that all bridesmaids are required to register before the event in order to keep tabs on the number of inappropriately formal people planning to flood the Common that day.

Logo from

After you cross the Common in its entirety, you notice a scene of laughing children, festivities and party hats in the Public Garden. You continue your run to the Charles Street @ Beacon Street entrance of the Public Garden where FOPG will be throwing our duckling party from 10am-1pm. You decide to stop by, knock back some cold water and enjoy the music and magic our entertainers have to offer.

You’re so caught up in the celebration that you forget that you’re still wearing a bridesmaids dress. After a quick change at your desired location, you make your way to catch the red line to Dorchester. Though you’ve already had an eventful morning, the afternoon is just getting started and BNAN’s afternoon shift of the tree planting is on until 4pm! You help to celebrate National Public Lands Day by doing your part and planting trees in Dorchester’s beautiful Neponset Park. (Directions via public transportation can be found here).

By the time 4pm rolls around, you can certainly feel good about your involvement with the Boston community. And it may not be a stretch that it was the most fun you had all week!

Arjun of Dorchester volunteers with BNAN (photo from Facebook)