Boston Public Garden

In 1837, philanthropist Horace Gray successfully petitioned for the creation of the nation’s first botanical garden, the Boston Public Garden. Construction of the park, based on architect George F. Meacham’s design, began in 1859 and was completed by the early 1860s. By 1880, there were 1,500 trees and 90,000 plants designed in vibrant floral patterns.

When one visits the Public Garden today, you feel like you are stepping back in time, since the parks department maintains the Victorian traditions of its botanical collection and seasonal flower displays. The principal features of the Public Garden are the free-form 6-acre pond, crossed near the middle by an iron footbridge and the equestrian statue of George Washington at the Arlington Street entrance opposite the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  

The ornamental iron fences and gateways around the perimeter; the many sculptures, statues, and fountains; and the swan boats, which were created in 1877 and operated for over 100 years by the Paget family, all reinforce the Victorian feeling, while the mother duck with ducklings, made famous by the wonderful children's book Make Way for the Ducklings add something for all ages. The swan boats in the Public Garden are a Boston tradition open seven days a week from April to September.

A number of designers have worked on the Public Garden over the years, but the original team was George F. Meacham (architect), John Cadness (gardener), and James Slade (city engineer).  

Learn more about the history of the Boston Public Garden.
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