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Setting the Stage

In 1870, the city of Boston was an overcrowded, noisy, and dirty place. Its population had expanded rapidly because of the Industrial Revolution, and the peninsular port city was crammed with buildings and people. Many of the people who lived in the crowded city did not have the opportunity to travel to the country for fresh air and relaxation. In 1875, the Boston City Council passed a Park Act to help address these concerns. The park commissioners turned to Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect who had created New York City's Central Park, to plan a park system for the city that would provide residents with an opportunity to enjoy the benefits of nature.

Frederick Law Olmsted believed that planned parks and open spaces improved the health and disposition of those who endured the claustrophobic and often unsanitary conditions of city life. For Boston, he envisioned a "Green Ribbon" of parks that would encircle the city. Such a system would suit the geography of Boston as well as allow easier access to nature than one large central park. Over the next several years, he and his firm would create and weave together a series of parks that became known as Boston's Emerald Necklace.

 

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