The Public Garden, also known as Boston Public Garden, is a large park located in the heart of Boston, Massachusetts, adjacent to Boston Common.
The Public Garden was established in 1837 when philanthropist Horace Gray petitioned for the use of land as the first public botanical garden in the United States. Gray helped marshal political resistance to a number of Boston City Council attempts to sell the land in question, finally settling the issue of devoting it to the Public Garden in 1856. The Act establishing use of the land was submitted to the voters on 26 April 1856 where it passed with only 99 dissents.
In October 1859 Alderman Crane submitted the detailed plan for the Garden to the Committee on the Common and Public Squares and received approval. Construction began quickly on the property, with the lake being finished that year and the wrought iron fence surrounding the perimeter erected in 1862. Today the north side of the lake has a small island, but it originally was a peninsula, connected to the land. The site became so popular with lovers that John Galvin, the city forester, decided to sever the connection with the land.
The 24 acres (97,000 m2) landscape, which was once a salt marsh, was designed by George F. Meacham. The paths and flower beds were laid out by the city engineer, James Slade and the forester, John Galvin. The plan for the garden included a number of fountains and statues. The first statue erected was that of Edward Everett by William Wetmore Story in November 1867 on the north part of the Garden near Beacon Street. The bronze statue of George Washington by Thomas Ball which dominates the west side of the park was dedicated on 3 July 1869. The signature suspension bridge over the middle of the lake was erected in 1867.
The Public Garden is managed jointly between the Mayor's Office, The Parks Department of the City of Boston, and the non-profit Friends of the Public Garden.
It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.
Together with the Boston Common, the parks form the northern terminus of the Emerald Necklace, a long string of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While the Common is primarily unstructured open space, the Public Garden contains a lake and a large series of formal plantings that are maintained by the city and others and vary from season to season.
During the warmer seasons, the 4 acres (16,000 m2) pond is usually the home of one or more swans and is always the site of the Swan Boats, a famous Boston tourist attraction, which began operating in 1877. For a small fee, tourists can sit on a boat ornamented with a white swan at the rear. The boat is then pedaled around the lake by a tour guide sitting within the swan.
The current pair of swans are mute swans named Romeo and Juliet after the Shakespearian couple, however, it was found that both are female.
The Public Garden is rectangular in shape and is bounded on the south by Boylston Street, on the west by Arlington Street, and on the north by Beacon Street where it faces Beacon Hill. On its east side, Charles Street divides the Public Garden from the Common. The greenway connecting the Public Garden with the rest of the Emerald Necklace is the strip of park that runs west down the center of Commonwealth Avenue towards the Back Bay Fens and the Muddy River.
Permanent flower plantings in the garden include numerous varieties of roses, bulbs, and flowering shrubs. The beds flanking the central pathway are replanted on a rotating schedule throughout the year, with different flowers for each season from mid-spring through early autumn. Plantings are supplied from 14 greenhouses the city operates at Franklin Park for the purpose.
The Public Garden is planted with a wide assortment of native and introduced trees; prominent among these are the weeping willows around the shore of the lagoon and the European and American elms that line the garden's pathways, along with horse chestnuts, dawn redwoods, European beeches, ginkgo trees, and one California redwood. Other notable trees include:
Several statues are located throughout the Public Garden.
The park is maintained by the City of Boston, which in 2005 spent $1.2m to keep up its three parks. The city's efforts are supplemented by a charitable organization known as the Friends of the Public Garden, also known as the Rose Brigade. The charity helped finance the repair of the Ether Monument in 2006, and hires specialists to help care for the trees and bushes. Volunteers meet regularly to prune and maintain bushes. Financial support also comes from private sources such as the Beacon Hill Garden Club.
The Public Garden is easily accessible from the MBTA Green Line's Arlington Station. Other nearby subway stops include the Green Line's Boylston Station and the Red Line's Park Street Station. Public parking is located underneath Charles Street.