Public Garden Ranks 5th on TripAdvisor List of Top Parks

Photo: Elizabeth Jordan
Photo: Elizabeth Jordan

TripAdvisor recently ranked Boston’s Public Garden fifth on its 2014 Travelers’ Choice list of 25 top parks.

Boston’s Public Garden is the groomed and formal younger cousin to the more casual and boisterous Boston Common. The first public botanical garden in America, its form, plantings, and statuary evoke its Victorian heritage. This green and flowering oasis in the heart of a great metropolis has become a Boston icon. No visit would be complete without a stroll in the Garden and a voyage on one of its Swan Boats.

The Garden is truly a people’s park and a public pride. It is not only accessible to everyone, but citizens have always played an extraordinary role in protecting and preserving it. Observing the Garden on a peaceful summer’s day with the trees in leaf, the flower beds bright with color, and the Swan Boats tracing their tranquil course around the serpentine pond, you would never think of it as a civic battleground. In fact, it has been an ongoing struggle to keep these twenty-four acres of reclaimed land as a place of quiet beauty for the enjoyment of all.

To take an audio tour of the Public Garden, print or view the mapand log on to the tour.


Students dive into history on Boston Common

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More than 1,000 Boston school students attended the 5th Annual Making History on the Common event sponsored by the Friends of the Public Garden. On Monday, June 2, America’s oldest public park served as an outdoor classroom with a variety of true-to-life learning stations that showcased the hundreds of years of historic events and activities that took place on and around Boston Common.

Students were entertained by New England Contra Dancers and invited to participate in this blend of dance and music that came with Colonials from England, Ireland, Scotland and France. Many participants seemed to be on their best behavior that day; perhaps the sight of the colonial punishments station hosted by the Freedom Trail Foundation was all the encouragement needed? This interactive display demonstrated the use of wooden pillories, a hinged wooden framework used for punishments in Massachusetts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Apples available for students to snack on, donated by Whole Foods Market commemorated the orchard believed to have been planted on Beacon Hill by William Blackstone in 1623. A learning station new to this year’s event on 20th Century Protests evoked passionate pleas for “no more homework” as students were asked to protest on an issue relevant to their lives

“It was simply inspirational to see kids actively connecting to the rich history of our country while learning in one of America’s most historic parks, the very place where so much history was made,” said Elizabeth Vizza, Executive Director of the Friends of the Public Garden. “Making History on the Common works because it’s simple yet profound.”

Many organizations came together to make this Friends event happen including, The Fifty-Fourth Massachusetts Regiment, The Commonwealth Vintage Dancers, Historic New England, the City of Boston Archeology, The Ancient Fishweir Project and Wampanoag Nation Singers and Dancers, Boston Public Library and Leventhal Map Center.

Thank you to the Motor Mart Garage its generosity as the lead sponsor for this event.




April’s Biggest Moments in American History

April is a busy time of the year for everyone, especially with springtime weather, Easter and lots of things to be done outdoors. But have you ever thought about how much history has occurred during the month of April? Here is an overview of some of April’s biggest highlights in America’s history books.

The American Revolutionary War began on April 19th of 1775. When King George heard that weapons were being gathered in Concord for a possible rebellion, he decided to take matters into his own hands. He sent over British troops to destroy the weapons and keep the citizens in line. However, the troops were in for a surprise when they arrived. The local militia in Concord fought back against the British using their weapons, now known as the battles of Lexington and Concord. The first shot of the war, fired at North Bridge by the Patriots, was later famously described by Ralph Waldo Emerson as “the shot heard ‘round the world.”

We all know the story of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. It happened on April 18, 1775, during a time of intense political uncertainty. That night, Paul Revere was warned that British ships were departing Boston and heading towards Cambridge for the land path to Lexington and Concord. Paul Revere and William Dawes set out at 9 PM on horseback to Lexington to warn his fellow Patriots about the possibility of a British invasion. During the course of the night, Revere warned people in present-day Somerville, Arlington and Medford about the British soldiers and the message spread quickly. On the way to Lexington, Revere was questioned by the British at gunpoint. Today, his story lives on as one of the original brave acts of American patriotism.

In April 1861, the American Civil War began with an attack on Fort Sumter. The war continued for years, finally reaching a long-awaited end in April 1865. April 1865 was a historic month in American history for many different reasons. On April 2, Confederate General Robert E. Lee evacuated the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, after losing to Ulysses S. Grant at Petersburg. Lee’s troops would eventually surrender at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9th.  When President Lincoln and his wife were at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. on April 14th, John Wilkes Booth assassinated him. The Union, while chaotic, continued on the path of success without their leader. By the end of April, almost all Confederate troops and officers had surrendered, leading to the official end of the American Civil War.

As April comes to a close, let’s appreciate these moments throughout our nation’s epic history.  If you like Boston, look up all the historical events that have happened here and explore away!

Boston Common Frog Pond Heralds Spring’s Arrival with New Carousel!

News from the Frog Pond:

The Boston Common Frog Pond has some exciting news this week!  Now that winter is officially behind us, the Boston Common Frog Pond is getting ready for its newest arrival—a new Carousel that will open mid-April. The Carousel will be located adjacent to the Frog Pond, and will provide a new destination for kids of all ages.

The Carousel is an American masterpiece, built by the Chance Morgan Ride Company of Wichita, KS. It features a variety of Bradley and Kaye horses, made from the molds of the legendary Los Angeles amusement company, wildlife figures, and a chariot. It has the style of a classic carousel with an oak floor, beveled glass mirrors, and a standard pie top with lighted crown.

The Carousel is handicapped accessible and has height limitations. Anyone 42” or taller can ride alone; anyone under 42” requires the presence of an adult. Admission for the ride will be $3.00, with 10 ticket strips available for $25.00. Hours of operation will be Sunday-Thursday 11:00am – 6:00pm; and Friday and Saturday, 11:00am – 8:00pm. Please check for details on official opening date.

A little history:

The Boston Common, the nation’s oldest park, has belonged to the people of Boston since 1634 when each householder paid a minimum of six shillings toward its purchase. For over 350 years it has been a center and a mirror of civic life, free and open to all. Today this hallowed ground remains a green oasis in the heart of the city. The Frog Pond opened on the 25th of October, 1848 as a real artificial pond, and ice skating has found its home there for over 150 years. The Boston Common Frog Pond is managed through a public-private partnership between The Skating Club of Boston and the Boston Parks Department. The partnership’s mission is to manage the Frog Pond for the benefit of Bostonians and visitors alike, and to provide recreational activities year-round at a customer-friendly destination in the heart of America’s oldest public park.

Something to Celebrate this Holiday Weekend

It’s almost here, Saint Patty’s Day in Boston! Rest assured that there will be hundreds of people swarming the streets, dressed in outrageous green outfits and enjoying one of Boston’s most celebrated holidays. After all, rumor has it that the first formal St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the New World was held in Boston in 1737. But the luck of the Irish isn’t the only thing Bostonians have to celebrate on March 17th. It also marks Evacuation Day, a holiday honoring George Washington’s first victory in the American Revolution.

In early March of 1776 Continental troops managed to move a heavy cannon to the top of Dorchester Heights. When the British realized what had happened they knew they could no longer hold the city and were forced to leave. In 1901, on the 125th anniversary of that historic day, the Mayor of Boston declared a new city holiday, marking March 17th as Evacuation Day.

The fact that St. Patrick’s day also falls on the 17th was not overlooked, and in Boston the two holidays have been observed together ever since.

So while you’re putting on your green this weekend, stop to reflect on what Evacuation Day means to you, and take a moment to celebrate this day in history!

Celebrating the birthday of an American Hero

There is no question that Boston is a city deeply connected to its historical roots. Monuments throughout Boston’s Public spaces pay tribute to those people and events that have shaped Boston into the city it is today.  On President’s Day it seems appropriate to discuss the particularly impressive monument of George Washington located near the Arlington Street entrance to the Public Garden. Though George Washington’s birthday is still two days away, take advantage of your day off and walk in Washington’s footprints!

There are several sites throughout the city that honor the nation’s first president. We suggest starting with, our favorite, his sculpture in the Public Garden (but go out of order if you must!). Unveiled on July 3, 1869, Washington on horseback is certainly a distinguished monument, and we have been working hard to keep it preserved. Enjoy a walk through the gardens and a visit to this statue.

If you can pull yourself away from the beauty of the Public Garden, there are several other sites around Boston honoring our Founding Father.  Washington’s personal collection of books and pamphlets are on display in the Boston Athenaeum at 10 ½ Beacon Street. In an effort to keep this collection from being sold to the British Museum, the Athenaeum and Bostonians together raised nearly $4,000 to keep them where they belong.

You can also walk in Washington’s shoes and visit the King Chapel on the corner of Beacon and Tremont. This was where Washington frequently attended services.

Lastly, you can hop on the Red line towards Harvard Square to the Longfellow House, Washington’s headquarters on Brattle Street. He used this building as his home during the American Revolutionary War. On February 22, Washington’s official 280th birthday, the headquarters will be having an open house.

Happy Presidents’ Day to everyone, and a special Happy Birthday to our founding father, George Washington!

John Paramino’s Sculptures in the Boston Common

John F. Paramino was a Boston-based sculptor who lived in the city during the early 1900s. He is famous for producing some of the most well-known sculptures in Boston–you can find his work all over town. He created four unique historical sculptures located in the Boston Common. Here’s a little more information on the history behind these amazing creations in our city:

The Lafayette Memorial was built by Paramino in honor of Marquis de Lafayette. In 1781, Major General Lafayette helped lead his troops to a victory siege at Yorktown during the American Revolutionary War, causing the surrender of British General George Cornwallis. He also assisted with laying the cornerstone of the Bunker Hill Monument in 1825. Lafayette died in Paris in 1834. His memorial includes his profile and a proclamation of Lafayette as a “distinguished French soldier.” Paramino’s Lafayette Memorial can be found in the Parkman Plaza within the Common. Another fun fact about this historical statue? Paramino unveiled this statue to the city of Boston in 1924, exactly 100 years after Lafayette’s first visit to Boston.

When walking parallel to Tremont Street, you can find another Paramino creation–the Declaration of Independence Plaque. This bronze plaque was installed on the Common in 1925 to celebrate and commemorate American independence. On the plaque is an almost word-for-word inscription of the Declaration of Independence itself (there are a few differences, though–history buffs, get your glasses ready!). Above the inscription of the Declaration of Independence is a beautiful recreation of the famous historical painting by John Trumbell, depicting the signing of the history-changing document. It is a beautiful representation of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness!

The third Paramino sculpture has a history outside of what’s written on it! The Commodore John Barry Monument was originally instilled in the Common in 1949. However, the monument was stolen in 1977. Once it was found, the original was placed in the U.S.S. Constitution Museum in Charlestown while another monument was built for the Boston Common. Commodore John Barry is known as the “Father of the American Navy,” a title you can see inscribed above his portrait on the sculpture. In 1794, Commodore Barry received orders from George Washington, asking him to create a formal United States Navy. When war broke out between the U.S. and France in 1798, Commodore Barry served as the U.S Senior Captain. This granite memorial, rich in history, is a tribute to a true American patriot.

The fourth and final Paramino creation in the Boston Common is the Founders Memorial. It is a large, two-sided sculpture that can be found close to the corner of Beacon and Spruce Street. The front is a tribute to two of the most historical figures in Boston. It depicts William Blackstone, the first settler of Boston, openly greeting John Winthrop, who would go on to be the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. On the back of the memorial (facing Beacon Street), you can find a quotation from John Winthrop’s famous sermon on “Christian Charity” as well as a short selection from William Bradford’s History of Plymouth Plantation. This beautiful memorial was erected in the Boston Common in 1930, celebrating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Boston.

The next time you’re visiting the Boston Common, go on a historical scavenger hunt and search for all four of John Paramino’s sculptures. Enjoy the sights of the beautiful Boston Common and soak up all the history our city has to offer!