TwHP Lessons

The Emerald Necklace:
Boston's Green Connection

[Photo] Victory Gardens in The Back Bay Fens, one of the parks in Boston's Emerald Necklace.

[Photo] Riverway Park, one of the parks in Boston's Emerald Necklace.
(The Emerald Necklace Conservancy)


e want a ground to which people may easily go after their day's work is done, and where they may stroll for an hour, seeing, hearing and feeling nothing of the bustle and jar of the streets, where they shall, in effect, find the city put far away from them.... We want, especially, the greatest possible contrast with the restraining and confining conditions which compel us to walk circumspectly, watchfully, jealously, which compel us to look closely upon others without sympathy.¹

When landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted delivered his lecture Public Parks and the Enlargement of Towns in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1870, Boston was an overcrowded, noisy, and dirty city. Concerned with the health and happiness of Bostonians restricted to these unhealthy surroundings, the city hired Olmsted to design a park system. The series of parks he designed over the next several years is known as the Emerald Necklace. Each unique "jewel" in the Emerald Necklace—from lovely waterways to botanical gardens to peaceful meadows to tree museums—plays a vital role in linking the citizens of Boston together through nature.

¹Frederick Law Olmsted, Public Parks and the Enlargement of Towns, 1870.


About This Lesson

Getting Started: Inquiry Question

Setting the Stage: Historical Context

Locating the Site: Maps
 1. Boston, 1775
 2. Boston today

Determining the Facts: Readings
 1. Boston's First Parks
 2. The Green Connection
 3. Creating the Jewels
 of the Emerald Necklace

Visual Evidence: Images
 1. 19th-century Boston
 2. The Emerald Necklace
 3. Dredging the Back Bay, 1882
 4. Muddy River, 1892
 5. Muddy River, 1920

Putting It All Together: Activities
 1. Plan Your Own Greenway
 2. Parks Brochure
 3. Landscape Fun

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This lesson is based on the Olmsted Park System in Boston, one of the thousands of properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.



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