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Emerald Necklace I - Riverway Park

Category: Historic Parks
Size: 13.8 acres
Protection: Article 97, NR, SR
Manager: Brookline DPW, Parks and Open Space Division
Location: Between Boylston and St. Mary's Streets
Precinct: 1, 3, & 4
Inventory Date: 10/09/04, revised 2/1/05
Vicinity: Surrounded by major streets, shopping center, Harvard Medical School, Emerson College, MBTA train track and apartment buildings.

The Riverway and Olmsted Park form a green space that runs through Boston and a portion of Brookline linking the Boston Common and Franklin Park. The Riverway forms the lower, narrower section of the Emerald Necklace Park System between Brookline Village and the Back Bay Fens. Riverway's eight landscaped acres with walkways and stone bridges provide a shady respite from the urban traffic.

Park History:
Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., designed Boston's "Emerald Necklace.² His plan for the "Sanitary Improvement of the Muddy River" (1881, revised 1890), required close to fifteen years for implementation. The "Riverway" Project included recontouring the banks on both sides of the Muddy River and the tidal marshlands, and planting them with native trees and shrubs, many of which were eventually chosen by Brookline Park Commissioner Charles Sprague Sargent.

Land for the park construction was purchased between 1881 and 1894 from private property owners. In 1929, funds were allocated by Town Meeting to clean and deepen the Muddy River. In the mid-1980s, as part of the Massachusetts Olmsted Historic Landscape Preservation Program the Commonwealth appropriated over $1 million for the restoration of the Riverway and Olmsted Park. The Emerald Necklace Park System, including Riverway and Olmsted Park, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Town acquired the properties of both parks between 1863 and 1900 with 40 transactions. Most of the parcels were acquired "to be used for park purposes under the supervision of the Park Commissioner." Some of the original property owners included Trustees of Aspinwall Land Company, Trustees of the Brookline Land Company, Overseers of the Poor, City of Boston and the House of the Good Shepherd. It is listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places.


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