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Boston Tour #2 - Olmsted's Emerald Necklace - Boston, MA
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member NorStar
N 42° 20.798 W 071° 05.528
19T E 327674 N 4690383
Quick Description: This tour takes you through one of Frederick Law Olmsted's and Boston's 'crown jewels:' the chain of parks and motorways that make up the Emerald Necklace.
Location: Massachusetts, United States
Date Posted: 1/9/2012 4:15:15 PM
Waymark Code: WMDFM2
Published By: Groundspeak Charter Member GEO*Trailblazer 1
Views: 17

Long Description:
Boston has many great 'jewels' within its boundaries. One of them is a chain of parks and motorways that is known the world over as the Emerald necklace. The Emerald Necklace was originally designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and is considered one of his best works. This tour takes you through the parks (one way) through each segment, each of which has its own unique qualities. The segments include: Franklin Park - the largest of the park, Arnold Arboretum, the Arborway, Jamaica Pond Park, Olmsted Park, Riverway, Back Bay Fens, and Charlesgate. In addition, the Olmsted National Historic Site is 3/4 away from Jamaica Pond.

There are several web sites about Frederic Law Olmsted and these parks. The one used for this tour is maintained by the Emerald Necklace Conservancy, a private organization that is devoted to stewardship of the parks. Each stop will have a reference to a web page from either the conservancy, Friends of Charlesgate, or the National Park Service.

The total distance, one way, is about 8 miles. There are several options on how to complete the trip. One is by walking back the way you came, perhaps on the other side of each park. Another is to walk back to the Forest Hills neighborhood and take the MBTA Orange Line back to the core of the city. Another is to take an of a number of buses. As you walk through the parks, do remember that this is an urban area. If you are not from the area, it may be best to walk during daylight hours and in groups. Also, download the map on the conservancy's web site before you go.

You start on the bridge over the Muddy River, near the intersection of Boylston Street and the Fenway.

1. Charlsegate (1878) - Look north over the Muddy River by road ramps. This park was originally intended to be a connector to both the Esplanade on the Charles River Basin, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall to Boston Common and Public Garden. Unfortunately, now the Massachusetts Turnpike and Storrow Drive slice through it and a series of exit ramps loom over it, making it unappealing to walk around. Link

2. Back Bay Fens - Look to the west and proceed along Park Drive, then through the Fenway Victory Community Garden, then follow the Muddy River to the Riverway. The Back Bay Fens appears to be natural; however, it is mostly fabricated. Before, there was a vast mud flat. Olmsted initially designed this park, then, when the Charles River was closed off and became freshwater, the park was redesigned again with fresh water flora. The Shattuck Visitor Center, run by the conservancy, is located not far from the Museum of Fine Arts. Link

3. Riverway - Walk parallel to the parkway, across Route 9 (Boylston Street). Like the Back Bay Fens, the Muddy River was rerouted and marsh landscaped to incorporate steep banks and wooded portions to create a pastoral setting. It is bordered by a curved motorway - also known as the Riverway. Link

4. Olmsted Park - This park was originally named Leveritt Park, but, in 1900, the park was renamed Olmsted Park in honor of its designer. This park straddles the Boston-Brookline line. This park is the most 'natural' of the Olmsted parks where Olmsted enhanced existing features rather than create new ones. Link

5. (Optional) Olmsted National Historic Site - Walk west along Perkins Avenue to Cottage Street then take a right onto Warren Street to the corner of Warren and Dudley Street. The site has been recently reopened after a major renovation. If open, you can visit the very office that Olmsted and his firm designed. Link

6. Jamaica Pond - (If from the Olmsted NHS walk back to Perkins Avenue to the next stop. Walk either way around Jamaica Pond to the rotary. This park was also modified little. Jamaica Pond is a natural kettle pond left over from the ice age. Surrounding the pond are woods. On the east side is the ranger station and boathouse where you can look out onto the pond. Link

7. Arborway - Walk parallel to the parkway through the rotary, then along the sidewalk on the right side. The Arborway is a connector between Jamaica Pond, the Arnold Arboretum, and Franklin Park. The roadway has several lanes that are lined by trees.

8. Arnold Arboretum - Walk around this beautiful park, then go back to the entrance. The Arnold Arboretum is North America's first public arboretum. The park is owned by Boston and leased to Harvard University. There are 4,000 varieties of wooded plants and 15,000 trees. The terrain varies from flat pastures and hilly vistas. Link

9. Franklin Park - From the Arnold Arboretum, continue along the Arboretum to the rotary, then walk along the road within Franklin Park. Franklin Park has 527 acres that was intended to imitate a country park with rolling hills and pastures. Today, there is the Franklin Park Zoo, a golf course, and a stadium that has been added since Olmsted created the park. Link

And, you're done!
Recommended Time for this WayTour: From: 6:00 AM To: 7:00 PM

Stop Coordinates:
2. Back Bay Fens - N42.34672, W71.09297 3. Riverway - N42.34356, W71.10544 4. Olmsted Park - N42.33114, W71.11386 5. Olmsted NHS - N42.32534, W71.13219 6. Jamaica Pond - N42.31936, W71.12369 7. Arborway - N42.31398, W71.12136 8. Arnold Arboretum - N42.30375, W71.11950 9. Franklin Park - N42.30111, W71.10568


Starting Address for this WayTour:
Boylston Street and the Fenway
Boston, MA United States of America
20115


Number of Stops: 9

Website of stops: [Web Link]

Stop Website: [Web Link]

Visit Instructions:
You must include an original photo showing one of the stops along the tour route.
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