Emerald Necklace Overview

“The main distinctive characteristic of the Boston municipal system is its design as a series of parks, each possessing an individual landscape character and special re-creative functions, united by a chain of drives, rides and walks, forming a grand parkway of picturesque type... reaching from the heart of the city into the rural scenery of the suburbs.” -- Olmsted, Olmsted, and Eliot Landscape Architects, 1894.

The park system designed by Frederick Law Olmsted from 1872 to 1892 and constructed by 1895 runs through two municipalities: Boston and Brookline. However, Olmsted envisioned the park system as common ground, a continuous unified system irrespective of municipal boundaries.

The Emerald Necklace today consists of a 1,100-acre chain of green spaces connecting the Boston Common—which dates from the colonial period—and the 1837 Public Garden to the five parks and an arboretum designed by Olmsted, which are linked by parkways and waterways: The Arnold Arboretum (1872), Back Bay Fens (1878), Franklin Park (1881), The Riverway (1892), Olmsted Park (1892), and Jamaica Pond (1892).

From Boston Common to Franklin Park, it's approximately 7 miles by foot or bike. The Emerald Necklace is the only remaining extant linear park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.

There has been a number of designers over the years, including George F. Meacham, Frederick Law Olmsted, John Charles Olmsted, Charles Eliot, Arthur Asahel Shurcliff (Shurtleff), and H. H. Richardson.

Learn more about the history of the Emerald Necklace.
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