Established in 1837, the first public botanical garden in America did not begin improvements until 1859-1860. A preamble to what would become the Boston Park System, the renovation of the 24-acre park was intended to be the city’s response to Central Park. Although many proposals had been generated over its founding decades, only simple modifications were made until 1859 when the land was secured for park purposes. That same year, a proposal by Boston architect George F. Meacham was selected. Employing formal and Picturesque elements, Meacham’s plan included geometrical displays of flower bed, a central building on axis with an ornate bridge that straddled a pond, children’s playground, fountains, and a network of pedestrian paths. The plan was adapted by city engineer James Slade and included removing the central building and replacing it with an equestrian statue of George Washington by Thomas Ball. Construction was completed by the early 1860s. In 1877 the beloved Swan Boats began sailing on the pond. The Public Garden, with adjacent Boston Common, serves as the northern terminus of the Emerald Necklace. Over time, the garden has become a repository for significant sculpture. In 1972 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 1987 was designated a National Historic Landmark. It is managed jointly by the City and the Friends of the Public Garden.