Boston Greenway provides new look to old neighborhood

... A mile of gardens, walkways from North End Park to Chinatown

by Bob Dunn, photos by Lisa Dunn and Bob Dunn

Editors' note: The article on the Boston Greenway was supplied to us by Jack Driscoll, former editor of the Boston Globe and advisor to both the SilverStringer and "Rye Reflections", our sister publication in Rye, New Hampshire. The piece is by Bob Dunn, who grew up in Malden, and therefore can be considered an almost native of Melrose. At any rate, Mirror readers are treated to this extra bonus -- on a delightful stroll on the Boston Greenway. Our thanks to both Bob and Jack.

With the dismantling of the Central Artery, Boston has regained an extraordinary swath of open space right in the midst of the city. After decades of heavy traffic and steel girders, and then years of dust and confusion during the Big Dig, this open space is now taking shape, giving a new look to old neighborhoods.

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, which spans the complete circuit from CHINATOWN to NORTH STATION is already well under development. Although the former Central Artery space will, when finished, include a mix of commercial and residential buildings, it will be devoted primarily to gardens and walkways even within the parcels that will be developed. There will be festival sites, exhibits, civic celebrations and concert sites at various locations.

The name "Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway" is appropriate, in that Rose Elizabeth Kennedy was born in July of 1890 in the North End and baptized at Saint Stephen's Church on Hanover Street.

The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy is a private, non-profit corporation with a board representing various civic and business people. To raise additional funds, the board has authorized the creation of the "Mother's Walk" from Christopher Columbus Park to High Street. This area of walkway will have 6" x 6" concrete paving blocks that resemble granite cobblestones engraved per the donor for a donation of $500 per block.

Although the Greenway is still under development in a number of areas, it is well worth a tour. The walk from Chinatown to the North End Park is about a mile, but with several diversions off the Greenway along the way, plan on about two miles of walking beginning at either end.

The circuit consists of 23 parcels covering 30 acres designated for parks, commercial and residential areas. The parks are CHINATOWN, THE WHARF DISTRICT and NORTH END. Each of these parks is more or less completed, with the remaining parcels still in planning for development

Chinatown Park Gateway

Walking towards South Station from Chinatown Plaza.

CHINATOWN PARK (Parcel 23) is near completion, with a fountain, stream, and extensive plantings of bamboo, willow, Chinese cherry and other eastern flowers and trees. The plaza for events, just outside the gate to Chinatown, has a pavement that shows a square within a circle, a Chinese symbol of heaven and earth. Embedded within the pavement is a Chinese chess board pattern and on the adjoining benches you will probably catch a number of locals having a chess match.

View looking back towards South Station from the area of High Street.

View of the area about opposite Congress Street.

WHARF DISTRICT (Parcel 14) is practically finished and is directly opposite Rowe's Wharf. It has a wide expanse of plantings, walkways and sites for events and shows. The large concert area is still under construction but looks like it could be finished soon.

View of the approach to the Wharf District area opposite the Boston Harbor Hotel.

View from the dock area of the Boston Harbor Hotel back towards the Greenway through the arch.

The plaza and sitting area in the Wharf District area.

NORTH END PARK (Parcel's 8-9-10) is also almost complete, with fountains, a shallow stream and a large area for sitting, complete with benches, tables and chairs to relax and have a snack. The plantings of shrubs, flowers and trees are extensive and the view to the north of the Zakim Bridge is great. There is a long timeline railing along Hanover Street at the Park that gives a brief history of Boston from 1600 till 2004. As I walked the Greenway I could not help but think of my youth when we would take the Boston Elevated Rail from Everett Station to North Station and walk along Atlantic Avenue to take the "Penny" Ferry to East Boston and catch the Narrow Gauge train to Revere Beach. While walking along Atlantic Avenue, we would often hop on a slow-moving freight car as it ran along the Avenue. It was a long, round-about way to get to Revere Beach, but great fun.

The North End Park area that has been almost completed with more to come shortly.

The North End Park fountains and a truly relaxing spot.

Parcels 19-20-21 are presently planted with shrubs, grass and trees but the future plan is for Massachusetts Horticultural Society to have extensive Gardens under Glass.

Parcel 18 is proposed for a new Center for Arts and Culture with a theater, galleries, café and a roof top terrace forecast for 2012-13.

Parcel 17, from India Street to High Street, is to have a nautical theme with granite seawall and a park with "Harbor Fog" created to envelope statues and navigational sea bouys.

Parcel 16, from Milk Street to India Street, is to be an open plaza the "Great Room" for events and festivals.

Event area under construction to hold concerts and all kinds of events.

Parcel 15, from State Street to Milk Street, will have a Ring Fountain with pulsing water.

Parcel 13 was proposed for a Memorial to Armenian genocide, though a final decision is still to be made whether it will be that or a combined memorial commemorating a variety of immigrant populations.

Christopher Columbus Park opened in 1976 at the foot of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace before the Harbor.

Chance to take a side trip to the Harbor Islands.

Parcel 12 is to be a proposed history museum in the shape of a ship; estimated completion in 2012-13.

Parcel 9 is presently in grass and shrubs but is designated for some kind of future development.

Parcel 6 is proposed to be a three or four-story YMCA, estimated completion also in 2012-13.

View of the future addition to the North End Plaza with the Zakim Bridge in the background.

(See a map of the Rose Kennedy Greenway: click here )

(Bob Dunn grew up in Malden near the Melrose line, frequented the Mt. Hood golf course and was owner/operator of the Boston Hill ski area before retiring to Rye, N.H. Most of the information used in this article was gained from the records of the City of Boston, State of Massachusetts amd Greenway Conservany records.)

November, 2007   

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