This month, stroll the Charles River Esplanade with people who know its history and are working for its future.

Take a Walk

Story Robyn Griggs Lawrence

March, 2020

In 1910, the Charles River basin was dammed, and what had been smelly tidal mud flats became a wide river basin, begging Bostonians to get out and play. In the 1930s, landscape architect Arthur Shurcliff transformed and expanded the narrow strip of parkland along the river’s south bank with gardens and groves of Norway maples (since replaced in some places with honey locusts); canoe ways and docks; plazas, promenades, paths, and playgrounds. Shurcliff designed the Boat Haven and the Music Oval. The Hatch Shell was built in 1941. In the 1950s, he redesigned and added lagoons and islands to accommodate for and replace the land that was sucked up by Storrow Drive.

In July, the three-mile-long, 64-acre Esplanade ( is teaming with tourists and locals. In March, it’s calmer, peaceful. On March 11, you can see for yourself while learning the Esplanade’s history during a walk with Esplanade Association experts from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The walk is free with a $10 suggested donation that goes toward revitalizing, enhancing, and maintaining the Esplanade.

That feels pretty good. And we can’t make promises, but you could see a bald eagle.

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