Perfect Weather for Tours of Boston's Rich Landscape Legacy

Feature Stories

Perfect Weather for Tours of Boston's Rich Landscape Legacy

Perfect Weather for Tours of Boston's Rich Landscape Legacy
Sep 15, 2020

Twenty free, expert-led tours organized by The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF) in partnership with various local partners comprised What's Out There Weekend Boston September 12-13, a weekend blessed by spectacular weather. A lineup of outstanding guides shared intimate knowledge of a wide variety of landscapes ranging from the Colonial era to the present. Tour guides and attendees followed all official coronavirus-related regulations including social distancing and wearing of masks. One attendee gushed: “As a landscape architect, it was inspiring to step outside of the lecture hall and actually experience a landscape alongside those who led its design and construction. My guides were incredibly knowledgeable of the sites history and gave an eloquent introduction.”

Norman Leventhal Park at Post Office Square, Boston, MA - Photo by Cynthia Smith, 2020

All of the sites (and more) are featured in the What’s Out There  Boston  Guidebook, which is available for purchase as a print publication and as a free, downloadable PDF. TCLF, in partnership with the National Park Service, has also created an ever-growing richly illustrated online What's Out There Cultural Landscapes Guide to Boston that currently features more than five dozen sites, in excess of 50 designer profiles, and detailed history of Boston's landscape legacy.

Saturday began with fourteen distinct excursions, including two very popular explorations of Mount Auburn Cemetery, the iconic, picturesque rural cemetery established in 1831, with David Barnett (Mount Auburn Cemetery) and Bob Uhlig and Iris Lin (Halvorson | Tighe & Bond Studio). Additional Saturday morning highlights included: Harvard University, founded in 1636, and the Carol Johnson-designed John F. Kennedy Memorial Park with Scott Fulford (Boston Architectural College), Chris Reed (Stoss Landscape Urbanism), Laura Solano (Michael Van Valkenburg Associates), and Jennifer Jones (formerly of IBI Placemaking); the award-winning 1.7-acre Postmodernist Norman B. Leventhal Park led by Cynthia Smith and Charles Kozlowski (Halvorson | Tighe & Bond Studio); and Paul Revere Mall, designed by Arthur Shurcliff in 1933 and inspired by Havana, Cuba's Paseo del Prado, led by Kyle Zick (Kyle Zick Landscape Architecture). A special afternoon draw was a walk led by Friends of the Public Garden through an expedition of Boston Common, Boston Public Garden, and Commonwealth Avenue Mall, while Michael Reiskind (The Jamaica Plain Historical Society) strolled through Jamaica Pond, one of the highlights of the Emerald Necklace, the great greenway designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.  

LoPresti Park, Boston, MA - Photo courtesy Eugene Bolinger, 2020

Guests raved about visiting the Christian Science Plaza with John Amodeo and James Kros (IBI Placemaking) with one commenting: “The presentation was wonderfully detailed and informative and gave me such an appreciation of this treasure. Thank you so much for making this available ... [the] What’s Out There  Boston Guidebook is one of the best guides ever"; and a second sharing: "the tour guides were superb ... so passionate, knowledgeable, and fun!” 

Saturday closed strong with the Modernist City Hall Plaza, Quincy Market, and Marketplace Center led by Kate Tooke and Mauricio Gomez (Sasaki), Marion Pressley (Pressley Associates), and María Bellalta (Boston Architectural College); Charles River Esplanade, the linear waterfron park originally designed by Arthur Shurcliff, led by Karl Haglund (Department of Conservation and Recreation, Commonwealth of Massachusetts); Back Bay Fens, another great feature in the Emerald Necklace, led by Karen Mauney-Brodek (Emerald Necklace Conservancy); and Liff Park and 401 Park led by Fran Gershwin (Muddy River Restoration Project Maintenance and Management Oversight Committee) and TCLF Board Member Keith LeBlanc (LeBlanc Jones). 

Tanner Fountain, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA - Photo by Scott Fulford, 2020

A busy Sunday morning began with two simultaneous tours: the trifecta of LoPresti Park, Lewis Street Dock, and Piers Park, part of the nearly 43-mile-long Boston Harbor Walk, led by Gene Bolinger, Brandon Kunkel (Weston & Sampson), Marion Pressley (Pressley Associates), and Amy Whitesides (Stoss Landscape Urbanism); and, two favorite East Boston haunts, the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway and Bremen Park, led by Alison Richardson (Brown, Richardson + Rowe). That afternoon, Sean Sanger (Copley Wolff Design Group) and Cheri Ruane (Weston & Sampson) led a tour of two recent projects in the former Charlestown Navy Yard: Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and Mayor Thomas M. Menino Park, both of which opened in 2013. Also that afternoon was picturesque Franklin Park, the largest park within the Emerald Necklace (527 acres), led by John Kett and Lydia Cook (Reed Hilderbrand); and the contiguous Olmsted Park and the Riverway (the two were originally called the Muddy River Improvement), led by Hugh Mattison; and Fisher Hill Park led by Kaki Martin and Mark Klopfer (KMDG). An intimate walk through parts of the 60-acre Joe Moakley Park, named in remembrance of the former U.S. Congressman, led by Amy Whitesides (Stoss Landscape Urbanism) closed out the weekend. 

The  Weekend  could not have succeeded without support from Boston Parks and Recreation, Boston Architectural College, and the Boston chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects. Also essential was the tireless involvement of local committee members Maria Bellalta, Ann Flick Blair, Gretchen Rabinkin, Amy Whitesides, and Marion Pressley, who generously volunteered their time and knowledge.