A celebration of the life and work of Frederick Law Olmsted, founder of American landscape architecture.



Recent Comments:

...Frederick Law Olmsted's work has passed the test of time; his work in Druid Hills set the stage and continues to influence metro Atlanta...
-Tina Fountain

Boston's Emerald Necklace
To see individual sections click on the map, or choose at the bottom.

The idea of a rural park for the city of Boston was originated in the 1850s. At the time Boston possessed no major park system except for the Boston common, which had been set-aside in 1634.

In 1867, a park bill for Boston was passed by the Massachusetts State legislature. The park commissioners ask Olmsted's advice on areas to be considered as possible park sites, in late 1875. Olmsted designed a whole new park system for Boston. He recommended immediate approval of specific areas along the Charles River, in the marshy Back Bay, around Jamaica Pond, and in West Roxbury.

In 1877, the park commissioners voted to apply the name "parkway" to the entire seven-mile continuous linkage of parks. This linkage was in the form of a giant semi-circle that ran around the city. The commissioners fully endorsed what Olmsted had conceived and proposed some years before as the "Promenade."

Boston Common and the Public Gardens in the heart of the city begin the large park. From there, Commonwealth Avenue, a handsome, tree-lined esplanade would lead directly to the Back Bay Fens. The route would then follow the course of the Muddy River, which went upstream, first northwest, then making a ninety-degree turn southwest to a large cattail; swamp that would continue to Jamaica Pond. Finally, a park strip called the Arborway would be added, joining the pond and the Arnold Arboretum and the entrance to Franklin Park.

Back Bay Fens Muddy River Area
For more information:

Arnold Arboretum Web Site

Boston's Emerald Necklace

Zaitzevsky, Cynthia. Frederick Law Olmsted and the Boston Park System. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1982.
© Copyright 2011 Frederick Law Olmsted - Contact Us