The Riverway

The Riverway is one of the most completely man-made portions of the Emerald Necklace. Virtually none of the original landscape remains, for all was designed and constructed. As Frederick Law Olmsted described, “like the Back Bay Fens, the goals for the Riverway were two-fold; to transform the river, which was an open sewer, from a public nuisance into a community asset, improve flow and water holding capacity, and to create a linear park.”

Olmsted rerouted the river and artfully shaped and planted its banks to create a secluded fresh water stream set in a wooded landscape only a few hundred feet wide.

The northern segment, the Lagoon (now the Sears parking lot), was intended as a transitional zone between the Riverway and the Fens. Currently this area is being day-lighted and dredged to bring back the original Olmsted lagoon design and function.

The second segment is the longest and goes from Park Drive to Netherlands Road. It contains the Chapel footbridge, the Bridle Path footbridge, Longwood Avenue vehicular bridge, the Shelter and Toolhouse “the round house,” and the Brookline Avenue Bridge (also called Brookline Avenue Culvert).

Learn more about the history of The Riverway.

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