Charles River Esplanade

The Boston Embankment, now commonly referred to as the Charles River Esplanade, was completed in 1910 as part of the Charles River Dam construction. This narrow strip of land served as a promenade for the neighborhoods of Back Bay and Beacon Hill.

Landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff designed the riverbank paths and a series of formal overlooks and boat landings along the shore of the expanded esplanade, which was dedicated in 1936. Picturesque tree massing softened the appearance of the overlooks and offered places for sitting and enjoying the river scenery. Shurcliff’s Storrow Lagoon was created for pleasure boating, toy boat sailing, and wintertime skating.
When Storrow Drive was constructed in the early 1950s much of the parkland between the river, the Back Bay, and Beacon Hill was lost. Shurcliff and his son Sidney were hired to redesign the entire shore from the Boston University Bridge to the Charles River Dam.

A canoeway was extended from the Hatch Shell to the Storrow Lagoon. A new pedestrian overpass near the 1941 Hatch Shell was named for the Boston Pop’s legendary conductor Arthur Fiedler.

The Centennial Fountain, located in the lagoon on axis with Dartmouth Street, celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Metropolitan Park System.

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