Romeo and Juliet return to the Swan Pond

What a beautiful day to welcome Romeo and Juliet back to the Swan Pond! After spending their winter at the Franklin Park Zoo the swans, who have been nesting together for ten years, were released back into the pond this morning. They enjoyed quite the reception complete with a parade, a few words from Mayor Thomas Menino and cookies shaped like swans to honor the pair’s return.  After a few words from Park’s Commissioner Antonia Pollak, Mayor Menino explained to onlookers that these swans symbolize what is at the heart of this great city and said that he considers spring to have officially begun now that they are home safe.

For their part, the swans seemed eager to return to their home, they were hardly able to sit still as they waited for the doors to their crates to be opened. Upon returning to the water they glided serenely away, but under that graceful calm you could tell the swans were happy to be home.

Following the ceremony observers were invited to enjoy delicious swan shaped cookies and lemonade provided by the Four Seasons Hotel. It was a wonderful way to spend the morning. For more photos from the event visit the Friends of the Public Garden facebook page:

The Friends of the Public Garden Celebrate the Brewer Fountain Plaza!

On May 2, 2012, the Friends of the Public Garden, Mayor Thomas Menino and other Bostonians gathered at the Brewer Fountain Plaza to celebrate its historic re-opening in the Boston Common. The new plaza officially opened by Park and Tremont streets.

The renovation of the Brewer Fountain Plaza is just the first part of a $5 million project to restore parts of the Boston Common. The beautiful 22-foot fountain was refurbished with help from the city of Boston as well as private donors. Along with the fountain renovation, the festivities celebrated the new amenities within the Common. This project also helped raise money for benches, pathways and lots of curbs for the area surrounding the fountain. The grass leading from the fountain to the State House of Massachusetts, known as Liberty Mall, was improved tremendously over the course of the project. The Mall now has brand-new irrigation and fresh soil that Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak compared to the grass at Boston’s beloved Fenway Park.

The Brewer Fountain Plaza also has a few unique additions that will make even more special to the people of Boston. There will be lots of new chess tables with umbrellas as well as newsstands with papers, magazines and books to read! The Brewer Fountain Plaza will also have a fabulous piano available for the enjoyment of Bostonians during the nice weather! The piano, an Ivers & Pond model, was built in 1885 and designed by Ted Furst for the outdoor conditions in the park. It has an electronic keyboard, a mixer and professional speakers–the best part is that they’re all solar powered! The atmosphere of the Brewer Fountain Plaza will be even more fun and enjoyable for anyone who visits.

At the ceremony, spectators heard from Henry Lee, Mayor Menino, Councilor Salvatore LaMattina, Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak and others, including representatives from the Friends of the Public Garden. The event included placing items in a time capsule, which will be buried in the Common to commemorate the project upon its completion next year. During the event, participants were serenaded by Cettina Donato on the piano and Dana Oakes’s beautiful trumpet.

The Friends of the Public Garden would like to thank Henry Lee, Mayor Menino, Salvatore LaMattina, Antonia Pollak and everyone else who made this amazing event possible! We hope to enjoy the Brewer Fountain Plaza and all of its renovations for many, many years to come

Brewer Fountain Construction Moving Forward

The Brewer Fountain construction project began as a vision to rejuvenate Boston’s public space. The Boston Common is central to the community and has always been an enjoyable public venue. Renovations to the Brewer Fountain and surrounding plaza, which are being completed in several phases, will serve to enhance this already welcoming space.

The first phase of the project is to restore the fountain itself, which was completed in May of 2010, and to construct the surrounding plaza, make landscape and hardscape improvements including a new storm draining system, irrigation system and pathway improvements.  This portion of the restoration should be completed in time for Spring. Currently, posted signs provide information about detour routes and the anticipated completion date. Come springtime 2012, the Brewer Fountain Plaza will include folding chairs and tables-some with umbrellas- a reading room, a gourmet food truck and, an additional perk, live piano music during lunch.
In phase two, more hardscape and landscape improvements are scheduled. These changes will match improvements made to the Common along Tremont St and in front of the Lowes theaters and Ritz Carlton. New fencing and a green strip will separate the park from Tremont Street. The original fence that provided a barrier
between the Common and the street was taken down at the turn of the 20th century while the subway was being built. Today the park and street seem to bleed into one another; the addition of a green, grassy strip will restore a sense of separation, defining the Common as its own space and an escape from the city streets. The pathway improvements will enhance the connection from Park St. station to the Brewer Plaza and help define the alignment of the Liberty Mall pathway. This final phase should be complete sometime in spring 2013. 

Related News:

Some of the construction you’ve seen is not related to the fountain renovation. The MBTA is also doing some work on the Common, installing a head house for a new elevator, providing increased handicapped accessibility to the Park Street Station. That project is expected to be finished in fall of 2012.

When the project is complete visitors to the fountain will be able to enjoy a delightful space with an incredible view of the State House.

Brief Brewer Fountain Update

Friends of the Public Garden is excited about the progress being made on the Brewer Fountain restoration! We’re looking forward to the project’s completion so Bostonians can once again enjoy this beautiful space!
The pulverization process is finished and contractors are ready to begin the next phase of reconstruction.
Up Next: 
  • On August 15th the installation of granite curbing is scheduled to begin. Paths around the fountain are also going to be paved.
  • The construction of a granite plaza which will include the names of donors who gave $100,000 or more.

Take A Mobile Tour of the Boston Public Garden

We would like to announce that we have finished creating a mobile phone application that will give both Boston tourists and residents an interactive guided tour of the Boston Public Garden. Developed by TourSphere, a Boston-based mobile company, the application will be available to all smart phone users, regardless of their platform, including iPhone, Android, and Blackberry users. The original tour, designed for MP3s and iPods, won a first place award from the National Association of Interpretation in 2009.

“This application will bring the Friends of the Public Garden to the interactive digital age in a groundbreaking way that will give park lovers a whole new experience,” commented Founder and President Henry Lee. “We are pleased to give visitors to the Garden an easier way to connect with the stories behind this magnificent place, and with the work of the Friends.”

The mobile tour—which features an original soundtrack and ambient recordings—will give visitors the option of going through the entire forty-five minute tour that takes visitors three quarters of a mile around the park, or selecting individual sites they would like to learn about. Henry Lee is the lead tour narrator, building on four decades of experience he has had as Public Garden champion.  Highlights include: the “Rose Brigade” with guest narrator, China Altman, the “Good Will Hunting Bench” narrated by Nick Paleologos formerly of the Massachusetts Film Office, the 9/11 Memorial narrated by the late Senator Ted Kennedy, and the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture narrated by sculptor Nancy Schön.

The mobile tour will provide background information about the Public Garden as well as information about the Friends.  Listeners will be able to sign up for the newsletter, become a member of the organization, and learn of upcoming events hosted by the organization. It is now available as a free download here.

Robert Gould Shaw Memorial Cleaned

The Robert Gould Shaw Memorial Being Cleaned

We happened upon this poem recently.  It seems especially poignant, as the Friends have recently completed cleaning the Robert Gould Shaw Monument. Robert Lowell wrote this poem over 50 years ago.  His use of the word Negro is something we wouldn’t use today nor are our cars “finlike,” but it captures the spirit of the statue and the Common in the 1960’s and transports us to that time period in history.

Enjoy this poem, and if you find others you like about these wonderful public spaces, please post them for all to share.


Relinquunt Omnia Servare Rem Publicam

The old South Boston Aquarium stands
in a Sahara of snow now. Its broken windows are boarded.
The bronze weathervane cod has lost half its scales.
The airy tanks are dry.
Once my nose crawled like a snail on the glass;
my hand tingled to burst the bubbles
drifting from the noses of the crowded, compliant fish.

My hand draws back. I often sign still
for the dark downward and vegetating kingdom
of the fish and reptile. One morning last March,
I pressed against the new barbed and galvanized

fence on the Boston Common. Behind their cage,
yellow dinosaur steamshovels were grunting
as they cropped up tons of mush and grass
to gouge their underworld garage.

Parking spaces luxuriate like civic
sandpiles in the heart of Boston.
a girdle of orange, Puritan-pumpkin colored girders
braces the tingling Statehouse,

shaking over the excavations, as it faces Colonel Shaw
and his bell-cheeked Negro infantry
on St. Gaudens’ shaking Civil War relief,
propped by a plank splint against the garage’s earthquake.

Two months after marching through Boston,
half of the regiment was dead;
at the dedication,
William James could almost hear the bronze Negroes breathe.

Their monument sticks like a fishbone
in the city’s throat.
Its Colonel is a lean
as a compass-needle.

He has an angry wrenlike vigilance,
a greyhound’s gentle tautness;
he seems to wince at pleasure,
and suffocate for privacy.

He is out of bounds now. He rejoices in man’s lovely,
peculiar power to choose life and die-
when he leads his black soldiers to death,
he cannot bend his back.

On a thousand small town New England greens
the old white churches hold their air
of sparse, sincere rebellion; frayed flags
quilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the Republic

The stone statutes of the abstract Union Soldier
grow slimmer and younger each year-
wasp-waisted, they doze over muskets
and muse through their sideburns…

Shaw’s father wanted no monument
except the ditch,
where his son’s body was thrown
and lost with his “niggers.”

The ditch is nearer.
There are no statutes for the last war here;
on Boylston Street, a commercial photograph
shows Hiroshima boiling

over a Mosler Safe, the “Rock of Ages”
that survived the blast. Space is nearer.
when I crouch to my television set,
the drained faces of Negro school-children rise like balloons.

Colonel Shaw
is riding on his bubble,
he waits
for the blessed break.

The Aquarium is gone. Everywhere,
giant finned cars nose forward like fish;
a savage servility
slides by on grease.

The ancient owls’ nest must have burned.
Hastily, all alone,
a glistening armadillo left the scene,
rose-flecked, head down, tail down,

and then a baby rabbit jumped out,
short-eared, to our surprise.
So soft!- a handful of intangible ash
with fixed, ignited eyes.

Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!
O falling fire and piercing cry
and panic, and a weak mailed fist
clenched ignorant against the sky!