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The Riverway

Historic Name: The Muddy River Improvement
Boston, MA

Contiguous with Olmsted Park, these two parks formed what was originally called the Muddy River Improvement, located on the boundary of the City of Boston and the Town of Brookline. It was described by Olmsted in 1881 as “passages of rushy meadow and varied slopes from the upland; trees in groups, diversified by thickets and open glades.” 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, and falling into two distinct topographical sections, the park was carefully graded and richly planted along its banks. The design includes a diverse collection of bridges, stairs, and a park shelter. Along with an integrated bridle path, the bridges promoted a separation of use; they include the Longwood Bridge (Shepley, Rutan, & Coolidge, architects), the Chapel Street Bridge with arches over the watercourse, two small footbridges leading to the island near Netherlands Road, and the iron Carlton Street Bridge. The Huntington Avenue overpass was a 1936 addition. Along the southeastern edge of this park, the Jamaicaway parkway becomes the Riverway parkway. In recent years, the Sears Company returned the Sears parking lot, the “Missing Link” in the Emerald Necklace, to the city, strengthening the Riverway’s connection to the Back Bay Fens.

 

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