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Olmsted Park

Historic Name: Muddy River Improvement
Boston, MA

Contiguous with the Riverway, these two parks formed what was originally called the Muddy River Improvement, on the boundary of the City of Boston and the Town of Brookline. It was described by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., in 1881 as “a chain of . . . fresh water ponds, alternating with attractive natural groups and meads.” An outgrowth of the Fens design, this linear park was added because of concerns raised by Brookline residents regarding pollution of the Muddy River. Connected by a common waterway, including the 12.8 acre Leverett Pond, (the original name for the park), Olmsted Park was renamed in 1900. Other significant water features in the park include Ward’s Pond (around 2.5 acres) and Willow Pond (around .7 acres). Along its grassy banks, the park was given a rich plant palette; today this 17-acre swath is the most forested section in the Emerald Necklace. As with the Riverway, the design incorporates a diverse collection of stairs and bridges, including the puddingstone footbridge at Ward’s Pond and granite bridges at Cumberland Avenue, the Cove Entrance, and Wards and Willows ponds, with the design of the bridges benefitting from preliminary studies by John Charles Olmsted. Jamaicaway parkway runs along the southern edge of the park connecting the Riverway and Jamaica Pond.

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