For the Birds
In Boston, a park attracts birds, and the birds attract people.
By Marty Carlock
The neighbors wanted birds.
In 1999, for the first time in 30 years, the city of Boston
planned to add a new park, a half-acre in a mixed commercial–residential area.
It would be only three blocks to the south of baseball’s storied Fenway Park
with its crowds and traffic woes. Yet a strip of the Fens, Frederick Law
Olmsted’s masterpiece of urban park design, would lie a block to the west.
The community around what would become Ramler Park in 2004 cast its lot with
the Fens. Asked for input, neighbors specified a passive park (no tot lot,
no skateboard lures), a water feature, and plantings attractive to birds.
Dedicated birders have listed some 180 avian species in the Olmsted park,
and there was hope of luring some of them to Ramler Park.
Before its rehabilitation, the plot was a trash magnet, sometimes used for
a parking lot. It lies amid brick 1920s apartment buildings, uninspired to
begin with and now aging. Up the streets on either side are small storefront
businesses and ethnic restaurants. Residents of these apartments are a diverse
group that includes elderly people, immigrants, and students; few children
live in the neighborhood.
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