FPC is thrilled to be able to offer Images of America: Franklin Park, written by our very own FPC member and local historian, Julie Arrison. Send us an email to purchase a $15 copy. It’s filled with photos and stories from the park’s creation through today.
Franklin Park was created in the late 1880s as part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace by Frederick Law Olmsted, renowned landscape architect and park builder. He believed parks were a necessary oasis for city dwellers.
You can take a self-guided tour of the park and explore historical sites. Download the pamphlet and put on your walking shoes! You’re in for a treat if you are just discovering Franklin Park.
Richard Heath, FPC founder and champion of Franklin Park, carefully researched and documented much of the park’s history, you’ll enjoy his writing in a series of articles, Franklin Park Notes, written for the Jamaica Plain Citizen. A tour of the park written by Mr. Heath is on the JP Historical Society website, you can download it and explore the park.
Be sure to check out 0ur gallery page to see a collection of old photos and postcards. Read Jay Mirsky’s article, In Search of Franklin Park, written in the Boston Globe Magazine in 1979 for more history, especially of the challenges faced in our urban park. You can also read a history of the Jewish community around Franklin Park from 1920-1970.
Shaping Franklin Park
Franklin Park was Olmsted’s last significant city park project and one he considered to be the result of years of experimentation and learning. Olmsted wanted Franklin Park to soothe urban dwellers who were stressed by modern life. He created a vast country meadow (now the golf course), and nurtured 220 acres of forest in the park. You can see some of the trees and plants Olmsted planted on the Emerald Necklace Plant List.
Olmsted’s design included active use areas for recreation and sports, and more passive walking in “the country park.” He tapped local family names and historical events to identify different areas of the park – find out more in Places in the Park.
If you are interested in Franklin Park’s extensive history, be sure to visit:
- The Olmsted National Historic Site in Brookline
- The Emerald Necklace Conservancy website for information on other parks in the Emerald Necklace
- The Dorchester Historical Society for old documents and photos of Franklin Park
- The Copley and Jamaica Plain Boston Public Library branches for original documents and photos of Franklin Park
You can also read more:
- Local history blog for early newspaper articles and photos of Franklin Park
- History of the Bear Dens by FPC member, Julie Arrison
- 1925 Report: Review of the Boston Park System
- A History of the Playstead in Franklin Park, by Richard Heath
Check back often if you are a history buff, we’ll be adding old documents and stories about the park – from Olmsted’s time through the end of the 20th century
To learn more about the history of Boston’s other Emerald Necklace parks, visit: Emerald Necklace Conservancy, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Pond, Riverway, Back Bay Fens (home of the historic Victory Gardens), Commonwealth Avenue Mall, Public Garden, and Boston Common.