Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO Boston Convention & Exhibition Center June 14 -16, 2015

Categorized | Boston for..., History

Boston for Nature Lovers

Boston for Nature Lovers

by Leigh Montgomery, Past-President, SLA New England and Librarian, The Christian Science Monitor

Here are just a few suggestions on how to enjoy the wide range of nature and landscape experiences in Boston, based on how much time you’d like to spend.

If you have 1 – 2 hours or less:

The Boston HarborWalk – just a few blocks from the Convention Center you can access the HarborWalk in the South Boston Section.  Here is Boston’s Harbor; a natural harbor and estuary, and one of the reasons for the settlement of the city and development as a major shipping port, then and now.

It is also a major environmental success story.  The water was so dirty after three centuries of dumping and runoff that it triggered a court-ordered cleanup, as well the Standells’ 1966 garage punk-turned Red Sox anthem ‘Dirty Water.’  Depending on how much time you have, walk north / left toward the Fort Point Channel and the North End, or south/right to see more along the South Boston and Dorchester section.  Or just sit on the deck in front of the I.C.A. to enjoy the sea breezes, coastal birds, harbor traffic, and the revived waterfront.

Rose Kennedy Greenway – Boston’s newest green space can be enjoyed just walking less than a mile over Seaport Boulevard.  You can also take the MBTA Silver Line there.  Enjoy a variety of beautiful plants, trees, and an unusual carousel which features species of New England.  You can appreciate the most aesthetic benefit of the Big Dig construction project, which deconstructed a rusted double-deck bridge and put 8-10 lanes of I-93 underground.

If you have 2-3 hours to spend:

Boston Common is the oldest park in the United States, used for many public purposes from grazing livestock to military exercises during the American Revolution to public addresses and demonstrations.  There is plenty of wildlife to see, largely in terms of birds, dogs, squirrels and people.  There aren’t any frogs in the Frog Pond – it is concrete, with children splashing in the summer and skating in the winter.  But it is pleasant to walk by.

This is about a 1.5 mile walk from the Seaport / Convention Center or 20 minutes on the MBTA Silver Line.

The Boston Public Garden, bisected from the Common by Charles Street, which was almost developed at several points in its history.  It has over 100 varieties of trees, some from the 19th century.  Its gorgeous gardens are inspired by its Victorian-era stewardship, and include roses, tulips(said to be the first imported into the U.S.) and tropical plants.  Tread its many paths to see beeches, willows, elms, which are identified with signage, or enjoy these from the water if you take a Swan Boat ride.

Arlington Street is the beginning of Back Bay.  If you plan to venture into Back Back, try a stroll along the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, an elegant urban walk that is actually landfill; this was once a marshy inlet. In addition to trees and plants, there are nine monuments along this trail commemorating people and events in Boston area history. This is a link in the Emerald Necklace, the vision of preeminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, which comprises 1,200 acres in six parks over seven miles.

Charles River Esplanade – Cross Beacon Street at Arlington Street right outside the Public Garden to take the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge across Storrow Drive to the Esplanade.  Enjoy breezes from the Charles River and lots of sailboats.  The birds enjoy it too: there are many migratory waterfowl during the day, and night-herons fishing at night if you are there at dusk.

If you have more than 3 hours to spend:

Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University in the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Vast collection of trees from all over the world, from miniature bonsais to a Redwood. 187 species of birds have been observed here. Take the MBTA Orange Line to Forest Hills and follow the signs for the Arboretum.

Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park

Enjoy a special part of Boston; its 32-island park. The larger islands are a 30-45-minute ferry ride from the waterfront where you can enjoy a hike or a picnic, and appreciate the history of the city and its ecology, and leave every two hours.  The ferry departs every two hours and is on a spring schedule until June 20; the islands of Georges and Spectacle Islands are the two that are open in advance of that date.  Georges is the largest and visitors can explore structures from the Civil War, dominated by Fort Warren, a P.O.W. prison.  There is no fee for the park, though the round-trip ferry tickets are $17.  There are often ferry discounts in some of the Boston papers and promotional materials.

Directions: Take the HarborWalk if you have a few extra minutes, or the Seaport Blvd, or the MBTA Blue Line to the Aquarium stop.  The Boston Harbor Ferry leaves from Long Wharf.

Fort Point Pier

Attention kayakers: Boston is apparently the only major metropolitan area with a public canoe/kayak/SUP launch that also has parking, so if you have brought your own kayak and vehicle, you can put in right there.  Explore the 32 Boston Harbor islands at your leisure, and watch for harbor seals!

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