Commonwealth Avenue Mall
A preamble to what would become the Boston Park System, this 32-acre axial boulevard connects the Public Garden to Massachusetts Avenue and the Fens. Nestled into Boston’s Back Bay, the green space is visible from every intersection along its length. Unlike many sections of Boston which have consistent architectural styles, the boulevard’s setting is diverse, with many corners anchored by a distinctive church or private residence.
Initially laid out in the 1850s as part of Arthur Gilman’s plan for the Back Bay, additional sections of the boulevard were designed over the next several decades. These include the lengths from the Fens to Kenmore Square; from the Square to the junction at Brighton Avenue; and from Brighton Avenue to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. The Olmsted firm designed the second and fourth sections.
For the first eight blocks, the design palette is simple: lawn panels separated by a central pedestrian path, a cathedral-like canopy of trees, benches along the path, and wrought iron fences at the entrance to each block. Nine sculptures have been added to the park since William Rimmer’s Alexander Hamilton in 1865. Portions of Commonwealth Avenue were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and 2003.