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Boston Run: Commonwealth Ave.

August 18, 2009

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Boston Public Garden

Boston Public Garden

Copley Sq – Mass Ave – Commonwealth – Boston Garden – South End

Starting Point: Copley Sq.

Access: Green Line: Copley Sq. Stop

Distance: 3 miles

Water Fountains: 2

Restrooms: 1

Copley Sq.

Pedestrian Traffic: Medium

Beginning in Copley Sq. front you will run West on Boyleston St. toward the Boston Public Library.

Copley Sq. is named after John Singleton Copley.  Copley was born in Boston in 1738, and became known for his

Boston Marathon Finish Line

Boston Marathon Finish Line

portraits of middle class New Englanders.  Many of his pieces can be found the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Copley Sq. is also the location of the finish line of the famous Boston Marathon, now in its 114th year.

Boyleston St.

Pedestrian Traffic: Medium – Heavy

Crossing Dartmouth St. the Boston Public Library will be on your left.  The Boston Public Library was the first free municipal library in the US.  It was founded in 1848; this building was opened in 1895 and was designed by ­­­­­Charles Follen McKim. Inside you will find Bates Hall, a large reading room where many of Boston’s students still study, beautiful murals decorating the walls, and a relaxing courtyard.   The newest part of the library was completed in 1972; designed by Philip Johnson. It now houses the library’s circulating collections.

Next on your left you will pass the Prudential Center, one of Boston’s largest malls is located on the bottom floor of this ­­52 story building. At the top you can find the highest observation deck in Boston.

The Hynes Convention Center is now on your left.  This houses many large conventions throughout the year, including the 3-day Boston Marathon Expo prior to the marathon.

Continuing on you will reach Massachusetts Avenue, referred to by locals as Mass-Ave.  Here you will turn right and cross the street.

On the corner of Boyleston and Mass-Ave. you will find Berklee College of Music Performance Center where you can find a variety of musical performances performed every week.

Continue straight north on Mass-Ave.  On your right you will see Newbury St.  This is the high end shopping district of Boston.  Here you will find many small boutiques mixed in with high end fashion shops and restaurants.  Sitting outside at a café will provide some good people watching on a relaxing afternoon.

Commonwealth Ave. @ Massachusetts Ave.

Commonwealth Ave. @ Massachusetts Ave.

Next you will reach Commonwealth Ave.  Turn right here.  You will want to cross the street to run down the park in the middle.

Commonwealth Avenue

Pedestrian Traffic: Light

Comm. Ave. has nine statues.  The first statue you will pass Leif Erikson, the first European discoverer of Newfoundland.

You are now in the heart of the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston.  The Back Bay area was all originally part of Boston Harbor.  It was filled in using land taken from Boston’s three original hills.  It took from 1857 – 1880 to fill in the entire area to create this neighborhood of brownstones, currently one of Boston’s most affluent neighborhoods.

The second statue is Domingo Sarmiento, the former president of Argentina.  He was president from 1868 – 1874.  He sought to model Argentina after the US, advocating the education of women and children as well as democracy for all of Latin America.

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall was designed by Arthur Gilman in 1856 to represent a French boulevard.  It was originally planted with large American Elms, some of which still survive.  Today the trees are made up of sweetgum, green ash, maple, linden, zelkova, Japanese pagoda and elm.

Boston Women's Memorial

Boston Women's Memorial

The next statue you pass is the Boston Women’s Memorial, with statues of Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley, honoring these women for their progressive ideas and work for social change.  These women are represented here as coming down off their pedestals to use them as work surfaces. This monument was designed by Meredith Bergmann.

The fourth statue is Samual Eliot Morison, a naval historian and writer. He was born in Boston in 1887.  He spent much of his career teaching at Harvard and won two Pulitzer Prizes for his historic works.

The fifth statue you will pass is William Lloyd Garrison, an abolitionist and journalist.  Garrison spent most of his newspaper career in New England writing against slavery, and after the civil war continued to work for civil rights and women’s sufferage.

Commonwealth Avenue Mall makes up part of the Emerald Necklace Park System. The system is made up of nine parks linked by parkways and waterways.  It was designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead in the late 19th century.  It consists of 1100 acres stretching nearly 7 miles from Boston Common to Franklin Park.  While he didn’t design Boston Commons, Boston Garden, or Commonwealth Avenue Mall, he did design the system to incorporate these three parks.  Olmstead designed the Emerald Necklace to provide an escape from city life for the residents of Boston.  Here you will indeed see many local residents relaxing, exercising, or walking their dogs through the park.

The sixth statue is the Vendome Memorial.  This honors nine firefighters that were killed in a fire at the Hotel Vendome

Vendome Hotel Fire Memorial

Vendome Hotel Fire Memorial

in 1972. This hotel was formerly located at the corner of Dartmouth and Comm. Ave.

The next statue is Patrick Andrew Collins. Collins was Irish-born, mayor of Boston from 1902 – 1905.  Prior to becoming mayor he had served in the State legislature and in the US Congress.

The eighth statue is John Glover.  Glover was a general during the U.S. Revolution.

The last statue is Alexander Hamilton, author of the Federalist Papers and a founding father of the United States.

You have now reached Arlington St. Cross the street and enter the Boston Gardens.

George Washington Statue of Boston Public Garden

George Washington Statue of Boston Public Garden

Boston Public Garden

Pedestrian Traffic: Light to Medium

**There are water fountains located in the gardens**

As you enter the garden, go down the path to the left of the George Washington Statue.  Continue on the path toward the northeast corner of the park at Beacon and Charles Streets.

Boston Gardens was commissioned in 1837 as the first botanical garden in the US.  In the center of the garden is a pond that several swans call their home.

You are now running past the bronze statues of ducklings based on the main characters of the children’s book Make way for Ducklings.

At the Beacon St/Charles St. entrance turn right and run along Charles St. until you reach the next entrance to the

Boston Public Garden Charles St. Entrance

Boston Public Garden Charles St. Entrance

Boston Garden and turn right.

Across the street is the Boston Commons.  The Commons have been a central park in Boston since its colonial days.

Once in the garden again, turn left before the bridge and continue around the pond toward the south west corner of the park.

A popular thing to do during the summer months is to ride the Swan Boats around the pond of Boston Garden.

Once you reach Boyleston St and Arlington St. cross Arlington and turn left.  Crossing Boyleston continue south on Arlington.  At the intersection with Columbus Ave. take the second road to the right (this is Columbus Ave.)

South End Row Houses

South End Row Houses

South End

Pedestrian Traffic: Medium

You are entering the South End.  The South End neighborhood is known for its trendy restaurants and art galleries.  The South End’s collection of Victorian architecture has placed it on the National Register of Historic Places.

Turn right on Clarendon.

You are heading back toward the Back Bay now.

You will see ahead of you a tall mirrored building.  This is one of three John Hancock Buildings in Boston.  This one was designed by I.M. Pei and completed in 1976.  This is the tallest building in Boston at 63 stories.  When first constructed there were many construction problems including many of the window panes falling out as a result of the sway of the

Trinity Church and John Hancock Building

Trinity Church and John Hancock Building

building.  You will notice its diagonal base.  Trinity Church has rights to the sunlight coming through its famous stain glass windows that prevented the John Hancock Building from being allowed to block the light once built.

You are now back at Copley Sq.  We hope you had a good run!

**There are water fountains and restrooms located inside the Boston Public Library on the lower level**

3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Harmon permalink
    August 19, 2009 6:32 AM

    I have traveled this route many times and enjoy it greatly. Any person who travels this route will enjoy the historical sites on the run, and will also be treated to some great people watching. This is a very safe route.

  2. August 19, 2009 11:56 AM

    Great site, and great route! I only wish I still lived there so I could run the streets of Boston again!

  3. August 23, 2009 11:29 AM

    Thanks for putting up this run! I just got back from trying it out. Overall, it was really good. I actually started from Arlington, though, because I was coming from the Red Line on the T and switched to the Green Line at Park St. I also changed the end so that instead of going back to Arlington, I crossed Charles Street and ran though Boston Common back to Park Street.

    Like you said, there was a bit of pedestrian traffic on Boyleston. The water fountains in Boston Garden showed up just in time near the end of the run. Highlights included the sax quintet playing in Boston Common that I listened to while stretching and the drink vendor selling ice cold gatorade right before I got back on the T.

    For people who new to Boston, note that when you turn onto Commonwealth Avenue from Mass Ave, you have to run one block before you can cross the street into the park. The first block is fenced off because it contains an underpass for Commonwealth.

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