Boston Common | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Boston Common

Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Luke Tomes

04 Mar 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Boston Common

Boston Common is a central park in downtown Boston, Massachusetts. Established in 1634, it is the oldest public park in the United States.

Boston Common history

In 1634, Puritan colonists purchased the land rights to the Common’s 44 acres from the first European settler of the area, Anglican minister William Blackstone. Originally, the Common included the entire block northeast of where Park Street is now, bounded by Beacon Street and Tremont Street.

It was first used by the settlers as a cow pasture and became known as the “Common Land”, used by the public to graze local livestock up until 1830.

The Common also became a site for Puritanical punishments, home to a whipping post, pillory, and stocks. Pirates, murderers, and witches were hanged from the tree known as “The Great Elm,” which is no longer there. Mary Dyer and three other Quakers were also hanged on the Common for their beliefs. A statue of Mary Dyer now stands on the Massachusetts State House lawn.

Also referred to as a “trayning field,” over 1000 Redcoats made camp on the Common during the British occupation of Boston in 1775. It was from here that three brigades of Redcoats embarked to make the fateful trip to Lexington and Concord.

True park status seems to have emerged no later than 1830, when the grazing of cows was ended by the Mayor Harrisson Gray Otis. It has since served a higher purpose and been the site of numerous formal/informal gatherings and events throughout the twentieth century.

Here, Charles Lindbergh promoted commercial aviation, while Martin Luther King, Jr led Anti-Vietnam War and civil rights rallies in the 1960s. In 1979, Pope John Paul II gave Mass to a gathered crowd.

Boston Common was declared a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1987.

Boston Common today

Almost four hundred years after its establishment, families come to this treasured remnant of 17th century Boston for leisure – to stroll, jog, skate on the Frog Pond, and play in the fields.

Visitors come to walk through the venerable historic grounds where memorials, monuments and plaques tell the story of the multitude of ways in its remarkable over 375 year history the Common has served the people.

There are numerous events and ceremonies that take place in the Common annually including Ice Skating events and Opera Series. Every year a Christmas tree is lit up in the Common along with a firework display to celebrate the new year.

Getting to Boston Common

Located in the heart of downtown Boston, the Common can be accessed from various different entry points. If travelling via the Subway, take the Red or Green Line to Park Street Station. Exit the station and the Visitor Information Center is 100 yards down the street.

Boston Commons Garage is an ideal place to park for those that are travelling by car. It is located in the centre of the park down Charles Street. If travelling northbound up Charles Street the garage will be on your right by the Baseball Field and visa versa if you are travelling southbound.

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