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The Emerald Necklace: Explore some of the most historic parks in the US

The 1,100-acre chain of parks and parkways dates back to the colonial period.

Bostonians walk + run along a waterway in the Emerald Necklace

If you walked from Boston Common to Franklin Park, it’d be a seven-mile trek.

Photo by Merrill Shea, courtesy of Emerald Necklace Conservancy

What’s better than one park? Nine parks linked by parkways and waterways. Today, we’re diving into the history + details of Boston’s Emerald Necklace.


The system of parks was designed by landscaping legend Frederick Law Olmsted. Fresh off the success of New York City’s Central Park, Olmsted was hired by Boston in the 1870s to design not just one park, but a whole system of parks. Decades later, Olmsted’s vision of a “green ribbon” was completed in 1895.

In 1998, the Emerald Necklace Conservancy was established. The nonprofit serves as a steward to the parks, in addition to offering programming like Party in the Park and educational services.

Meet the necklace

The Riverway | This natural-looking park along the Muddy River is known for its beautiful bridges.

Olmsted Park | Come for the athletic fields, wildflower meadow, and hiking + biking trails.

Back Bay Fens | This is the oldest remaining wartime “Victory Garden.”

A person sets a volleyball over a net at Franklin Park in the Emerald Necklace

Volleyball is just one of the activities you can do at Franklin Park.

Photo by Will Serber, courtesy of Emerald Necklace Conservancy

Jamaica Pond | Whether you’re looking to boat, sail, fish, or stroll along the pond, there’s something for everyone.

Arborway | This historic parkway runs from Circuit Drive at Forest Hills to Eliot Street by Jamaica Pond.

Arnold Arboretum | A key link in the park system, this botanical research institution is also a free public park.

Franklin Park | Boston’s largest open space connects five neighborhoods and is considered our “country park.”

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