Boston Common Oldest Public Park
By Susan M. Keenan © 2007
New England towns are famous for having their early settlements centered around common areas for the good of the people. Boston is no different. The Boston Common dates back to the early 1600s.
In addition to having the distinction of being the starting point of the Freedom Trail, the Boston Common is the oldest public park in the United States, covering 50 acres of gorgeous scenery right in the heart of the city. The history of this park is a long and unusual one that includes public hangings, the grazing of cattle, and encampments for British troops.
The Boston Common, included in Bostonís Emerald Necklace, is part of a connected system of parks that winds throughout this historical city. A number of memorable historical sights and military statues are scattered throughout the common and are listed here.
The Parkman Bandstand was built to honor George F. Parkman, a Boston benefactor who donated five million dollars for the upkeep of the cityís parks. It is circular in shape with a domed roof and dates back to 1912.
Opposite the Massachusetts State House, the Robert Gould Shaw Memorial stands in honor of the 54th regiment. This was the first free black regiment led under the command of Robert Gould Shaw. This statue is also part of the Black Heritage Trail.
The Soldiers and Sailors Monument is located at Flagstaff Hill. Built to honor Civil War troops, the monument dates back to 1877.
The Central Burying Ground, one of the oldest in Boston, is home to the graves of many American and British soldiers who gave up their lives during the Battle of Bunker Hill during the Revolutionary War. In addition to visiting these graves, guests can spend time at the graveside of the famous artist Gilbert Stuart and the composer William Billings.
Today, a wide variety of fun and exciting things to do are included in the parkís repertoire. Although you might discover a few more people and events during the warm months, activities due take place during the winter as well.
Frog Pond provides a delightful place to ice skate during the winters starting in November. Concession stands, skate rentals, and a warming area add a bit of extra hospitality to this public spot. During the summer hours, the pond is frequented by families looking for a chance to cool off in the pondís play area and fountain.
The park hosts concerts, plays, and other activities throughout the year.
The month of June brings out the ice cream lovers in the park for a taste of all you can eat ice cream for a very reasonable price. All proceeds of this Dairy Festival go to benefit cancer research.
The month of July brings out fans of Shakespeare for the Free Shakespeare on the Common Event that occurs near the end of the month.
Recreational activities include Frisbee throwing, sledding in the winter, kite flying, and more. A small playground is also available for the little ones to enjoy. The parkís walking paths take visitors along wonderful greenery that remains in an informal and open layout making it so easy for all to enjoy.