In September of 2017, while working in the Boston area, I was able to explore a few areas such as the Long Wharf Pier and Harbor. Another place I really enjoyed visiting for a few hours was the Boston Public Garden. My intention was to make a quick tour through the park, then head over to the Boston Commons. However, this didn’t happen for a few reasons: First I was running out of daylight. Secondly, it is a very large garden. But mostly, it was because it is such an amazing park.
Part of the Emerald Necklace system of parks, it was the first public botanical garden in America. However, it is designed in the style of an English landscape garden. Mostly flat and varying in elevation by less than five feet, it contains a pond and a large series of formal plantings.
A straight pathway, including a bridge, crosses over its pond. It spans the two main entrances of Charles and Arlington streets, but its pathways are otherwise winding and asymmetrical. I do have to say they are very winding and while I never really felt lost, it was definitely easy to get a little turned around. But that was the fun part 🙂
As I said, the Public Garden is a pretty large park. It is bounded on the south by Boylston Street, on the west by Arlington Street, and on the north by Beacon Street where it faces Beacon Hill. On its east side, Charles Street divides the Public Garden from the Common. Part of me still wishes I had walked over there. However, it felt so relaxing and peaceful. I just enjoyed walking around the pond and watching people feed the ducks.
Speaking of the pond, it is 4 acres and the home of a great many ducks, as well as of one or more swans. I didn’t see any swans, but that would have been so cool. Being late September, they were probably relocated for the season. However, I read that there are two there often who are named Romeo and Juliet. I thought that was great.
Another highlight of the park was the many sculptures. The main one I had wanted to see was the Equestrian Statue of George Washington. Happily, I was able to see it. The statue itself is 16 feet tall and made of bronze, and stands upon a granite pedestal of 16 feet, for a total height of 38 feet. A note of interest, the statue was funded mostly by donations from local citizens, was unveiled on July 3, 1869. and was constructed entirely by Massachusetts artists and artisans.
The only disappointment I had in my visit to the Boston Public Garden was my inability to determine exactly which bench Robin Williams and Matt Damon set at during the filming of Good Will Hunting. I walked and checked out every bench so I know I saw it, just not sure which one it was. I was walking around with a couple from the Bay area and they were unable to find it as well. Since I was unable to find it, I guess it is another good reason to return in the future.
If you are in the area, or having a meal at Cheers across the street, make sure to take a few mixtures and explore this amazing park. I am so glad I did. The city of Boston shares more about the park on its website. Enjoy.
I will end this post with a list of some of the other statues, sculptures, and memorials in the park. There a quite a few. I wish I could have seen them all, or explored them more. Definitely will in the future.
Ether Fountain – Designed by Henry Van Brunt, the figures and bas reliefs are the work of John Quincy Adams Ward, executed by a local stonecutter known as “a famous fellow with the chisel.” The Angel of Mercy is shown in one panel of the bas relief, and the granite figures at the top portray the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Japanese Lantern – This large iron Japanese lantern on the western shore of the lagoon was a gift to the city in 1904 from a well-known Japanese antique dealer. In 1993 the lantern was restored and placed, Japanese style, on a natural stone base, a huge granite boulder from a quarry in Rockport, Massachusetts.
The Small Fountains – The four small basin fountains, two near the George Washington statue, and the second pair on the opposite side of the lagoon all date from the twentieth century. Each was sculpted by a woman, and each subject is associated with childhood. Boy and Bird by Bashka Paeff and Small Child by Mary E. Moore flank the Washington statue. Near the Tool House, Triton Babies is the work of Anna Coleman Ladd, and across the main path, Bagheera was created by Lilian Swann Saarinen.
Four Bronze Statues – Honoring four men important in the Boston area. Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips, Thomas Cass, and Tadeusk Kosciuszko.
Bronze Portrait Statues– These statues honor two clergymen, William Ellery Channing, and Edward Everett Hale.
George Robert White – Honoring one of Boston’s greatest benefactors.
Ducking Sculpture -This immensely popular Duckling Sculpture is at the corner of Beacon and Charles. It was presented to the city in October 1987 by the Friends of the Public Garden.
9/11 Memorial -The newest and most somber piece of public art is the 9/11 Memorial, a Garden of Remembrance for the Massachusetts victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks.
Boston Public Garden Visitor Information
Arlington Street & Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA
Daily 6:30 am to 11 pm
Arlington Station (Green Line)
Exit the station, the park is visible from any of the subway entrances at street level. Most people walk two blocks down Arlington Street to the Commonwealth Avenue gate and enter the garden near the large equestrian statue of George Washington.
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