The Back Bay Fens is a vibrant mixture of gardens, trails, ballfields, memorials and marshes all with a grand view of the city of Boston!
One of the jewels in the historic “Emerald Necklace” designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1880s, you can wander through the country’s only remaining Victory Garden. Started during World War II, these seven acres of gardens, along with various spots throughout the city of Boston, were responsible for supplying the United States with fruits and vegetables. Places like Copley Square and the Boston Common were also plowed and planted! Now maintained as community gardens, residents of Boston can apply for a plot — the fee is a mere $2.
Olmsted was also responsible for naming the area after successfully transforming the foul-smelling, dirty marshes into a tranquil and clean pond. After the Charles River was dammed in 1910, it became the clean, freshwater marsh enjoyed today.
Taking over for Olmsted, landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff designed the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden in the 1920s. Now it is a lush, aromatic and private spot to read or picnic within walking distance of both The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in the heart of the Fens neighborhood. The three war memorials, World War II, Vietnam and Korea, are all just steps away from the peace of the rose garden.
Take time to walk through the Back Bay and Fens neighborhoods to admire the architecture and natural beauty side by side.
The Shattuck Visitor Center just across the street from the Museum of Fine Arts, is the perfect spot to learn more about the Emerald Necklace Park System. Pick up a map, hook up with a walking tour or get ideas for more activities throughout the parks.
I’m going to give you a little advice, as this used to be my backyard: Get out and walk. Boston is a town that can be explored in a day or two (the main spots). This is one of the quieter and less-traveled areas. The Emerald Necklace is a treasure! Try to see as much of it as you can. In case you didn’t know, Olmsted was also responsible for designing Central Park. In Boston, he had more latitude to create an entire system that truly reflects the beauty of this fabulous city. Enjoy!!
Taking the T:
Looking at a map will get you closer to a specific spot but the main T stops are the “E” line on the Green Line: Northeastern or Museum of Fine Arts.
There are some stops that will get you close to the area with added walking. Hynes/Mass. Avenue on the Green Line will require a little more walking down Boylston Street but will get you close to start of the Victory Gardens. Fenway and Kenmore are two other options.
39: Northeastern University and Museum of Fine Arts
1: Westland Avenue