• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Island Facts: Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island offers several miles of hiking, a visitor center with exhibits, and a swimming beach.

 
Spectacle Island (105 acres) features a marina, visitor center, cafe, a life-guarded swimming beach, and five miles of walking trails that lead to the crest of a 157 foot-high hill, offering panoramic views of the harbor and the city. Supervised swimming is offered daily from June 23 to Labor Day.
 
Short History
Spectacle Island has a varied history that included farming, a quarantine hospital, a glue factory, resort hotels and a garbage dump. The island was recently the receiving ground for excavated material from the Central Artery/Third Harbor Tunnel Project. The site is being returned to the public for recreation as a park is constructed over the landfill.
 

General Information
This island of Boston Harbor Islands national park area is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).

Agency Designation: Spectacle Island Park
Current Use: Park purposes
Harbor Location: Inner Harbor
Acreage: 114 (upland acres: 85.5; intertidal acres: 28.4)
Highest elevation: 176 feet
Longitude: 42° 19' 29.4" North
Latitude:
70° 59' 06.2" West
Miles from Long Wharf: 4.2

 
Visitor Facilities & Services
Hours:
Dawn to Dusk
Piers/Docks:
Yes
Visitor season:
0
Boat slips:
38
Visitor staff:
Yes
Moorings:
0
Guided tours:
Yes
Park boats:
Park shuttle boat
Lifeguards:
Yes
Car access:
No
Flush toilets:
Yes
Campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0
Composting toilets:
Yes
Group campsites:
0 (capacity ea: 0)
Picnic areas:
Yes
Camping capacity:
0
Refreshments:
Yes
Cooking grills:
No
Drinking water:
Yes
Walking trails:
Yes

On-island Circulation: Five miles of trails.

 
Natural History Overview
Vegetation
Newly planted deciduous and conifer trees, and meadow grasses.

Wildlife
Survey in progress.

Geology
The island was initially composed of two small drumlins connected by a spit. Beginning in the 1920s, deposition of the city's garbage expanded the size and the island by 36 acres. The island is now two technological earth mounds, terraced with retaining walls, roads and vegetation.

Water Features
None.

Views and Vistas
Spectacle is the highest point in the harbor, with spectacular views of the city and other islands.
 
Structures
Buildings
  • Visitor center
  • Shade shelters (3)
  • Maintenance sheds
  • Dockmaster shed
Fortifications
  • None
Other Structures
  • New rip-rap retaining walls
  • Remnant piers
  • New pier

Did You Know?

Boston's Long Wharf Today

Public ferries to Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area leave from Long Wharf, the oldest continuously used wharf in the United States. It was aptly named Long Wharf in 1710 as it stretched 1,586 feet into the port of Boston making it the longest wharf in America. More...