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Kimberly Vardeman/Flickr

Boston Common and the Public Garden: 13 hidden gems

Waddle aside, ducklings!

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The Public Garden and Boston Common together account for 74 acres of urban escape. The parks are chock-full of things to do and see, some a lot more notable than others.

A lot of people probably know about the Frog Pond or Make Way for Ducklings or the Edgar Allan Poe statue. And the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts is surely one of the world’s best-known military monuments, if for no other reason than the movie Glory.

But there are plenty of hidden gems in the Garden and the Common. If you know where to look...

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1. William Ellery Channing Statue

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28 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 635-3911
Visit Website

Herbert Adams sculpted this marble and granite statue of William Ellery Channing, the leading Unitarian minister of his day. It stands across from the Arlington Street Church, where Channing ministered from 1803 until his death in 1842.

The sculpture went up in 1903, on the 100th anniversary of Channing’s birth.

2. Charles Sumner Statue

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Thomas Ball, the same sculptor behind the Public Garden’s far more famous George Washington statue, sculpted this likeness of the fiery abolitionist senator Charles Sumner.

The bronze and granite statue went up in 1878.

3. Bagheera Fountain

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4 Charles St S
Boston, MA 02116
(617) 522-1966
Visit Website

A few steps to the southeast of the Swan Boats in the Public Garden, toward Charles Street, is a fountain that Lillian Swann Saarinen (ex-wife of Eero) sculpted in the mid-1980s (it debuted in 1986).

The name is taken from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and shows one of the characters, a panther named Bagheera, lunging at an eagle. It’s supposed to symbolize escape from captivity.

4. Tadeusz Kosciuszko Statue

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Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson sculpted this bronze and granite statue of the Polish hero.

It went up in 1927 to commemorate the 150th anniversary Kosciuszko’s enlistment in the Continental Army. He fought for American independence with much success—for Poland’s independence from Russia, not so much.

5. Thomas Cass Statue

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Richard Edwin Brooks cast this bronze and granite statue in 1899.

It depicts Thomas Cass, an Irish immigrant who rose to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Cass would die in Boston of wounds sustained in Virginia in 1862.

Check out this map for more Boston sites honoring Irish-Americans.

Bronze statue of a man with his arms folded and a hat on his head.

6. Edward Everett Hale Monument

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16 Charles St
Boston, MA 02108

Bela Lyon Pratt designed the bronze-and-granite statue of clergyman and journalist Edward Everett Hale (whose uncle was Edward Everett, namesake of the Boston suburb, and whose granduncle was Nathan Hale—he of “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” fame).

The statue was erected in 1913.

7. Wendell Phillips Statue

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Daniel Chester French, probably best-known for sculpting the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in D.C., cast this granite and stone depiction of abolitionist orator and lawyer Wendell Philips.

It was erected in 1915.

For more markers and monuments commemorating Boston’s role in the abolition of slavery, check out this map.

8. John Paul II Placard

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16 Charles St
Boston, MA 02108

This placard went up to commemorate the first Mass that the relatively new pontiff celebrated in the United States—October 1, 1979 in Boston Common.

John Paul II passes through Dorchester in 1979.
Photo via Boston.com archive

9. Founders Memorial

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99 Spruce St
Boston, MA 02108

Right where Spruce Street meets Beacon Street is a relief sculpture commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Boston.

John Francis Paramino designed it and the city unveiled it in 1930.

The sculpture depicts William Blackstone, the city’s first European resident, greeting colonial Gov. John Winthrop.

10. Shaw Memorial Elms

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(617) 742-5415
Visit Website

On either side of the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts, perhaps the most famous feature of Boston Common this side of the Frog Pond, are two trees believed to be the oldest English elms in the Western Hemisphere.

Dating confirms these trees were planted sometime between 1772 and 1812, and with the permission of John Hancock, who lived nearby where the State House now looms.

11. Learning, Religion, and Industry

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147 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02111

Right between the Boston Common Visitors Center and Tremont Street are three bronze and granite sculptures depicting Learning, Religion, and Industry

They were erected in 1961 to honor Boston philanthropist George Francis Parkman Jr. Arcangelo Cascieri and Adio Biccari sculpted the trio.

12. Marquis de Lafayette Plaque

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5 Temple Pl
Boston, MA 02111

Just back from where Tremont Street meets Temple Place is a plaque honoring the Marquis de Lafayette, the famed aide de camp to General Washington during the Revolution who tried to spur similar idealism in his native France.

More to the point, the plaque commemorates a grand Lafayette Mall that used to run along that side of the Common. It opened in 1824 in honor of Lafayette’s visit to the city, but disappeared into present-day Tremont in the late 1890s to make way for the T.

The plaque, a bas-relief that John Francis Paramino designed, went up in 1924 on the 100th anniversary of that visit.

Wally Gobetz/Flickr

13. Park Street Station

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Tremont St & Park Street & Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108

Wait, why include the Park Street T stop on a map of hidden gems in Boston Common and the Public Garden? Glad you asked!

The station is one of the T’s two oldest—the other being Boylston Street, which also opened in 1897. And, because Park Street Station is one of the two oldest hubs on the T, it’s also one of the two oldest subway stations in the Western Hemisphere—because the T is the oldest subway system.

Got it?

1. William Ellery Channing Statue

28 Arlington St, Boston, MA 02116

Herbert Adams sculpted this marble and granite statue of William Ellery Channing, the leading Unitarian minister of his day. It stands across from the Arlington Street Church, where Channing ministered from 1803 until his death in 1842.

The sculpture went up in 1903, on the 100th anniversary of Channing’s birth.

28 Arlington St
Boston, MA 02116

2. Charles Sumner Statue

Boston, MA 02116

Thomas Ball, the same sculptor behind the Public Garden’s far more famous George Washington statue, sculpted this likeness of the fiery abolitionist senator Charles Sumner.

The bronze and granite statue went up in 1878.

3. Bagheera Fountain

4 Charles St S, Boston, MA 02116

A few steps to the southeast of the Swan Boats in the Public Garden, toward Charles Street, is a fountain that Lillian Swann Saarinen (ex-wife of Eero) sculpted in the mid-1980s (it debuted in 1986).

The name is taken from Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book and shows one of the characters, a panther named Bagheera, lunging at an eagle. It’s supposed to symbolize escape from captivity.

4 Charles St S
Boston, MA 02116

4. Tadeusz Kosciuszko Statue

Boston, MA 02116

Theo Alice Ruggles Kitson sculpted this bronze and granite statue of the Polish hero.

It went up in 1927 to commemorate the 150th anniversary Kosciuszko’s enlistment in the Continental Army. He fought for American independence with much success—for Poland’s independence from Russia, not so much.

5. Thomas Cass Statue

Boston, MA 02116
Bronze statue of a man with his arms folded and a hat on his head.

Richard Edwin Brooks cast this bronze and granite statue in 1899.

It depicts Thomas Cass, an Irish immigrant who rose to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army during the Civil War. Cass would die in Boston of wounds sustained in Virginia in 1862.

Check out this map for more Boston sites honoring Irish-Americans.

6. Edward Everett Hale Monument

16 Charles St, Boston, MA 02108

Bela Lyon Pratt designed the bronze-and-granite statue of clergyman and journalist Edward Everett Hale (whose uncle was Edward Everett, namesake of the Boston suburb, and whose granduncle was Nathan Hale—he of “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country” fame).

The statue was erected in 1913.

16 Charles St
Boston, MA 02108

7. Wendell Phillips Statue

Boston, MA 02116

Daniel Chester French, probably best-known for sculpting the statue of Abraham Lincoln in the Lincoln Memorial in D.C., cast this granite and stone depiction of abolitionist orator and lawyer Wendell Philips.

It was erected in 1915.

For more markers and monuments commemorating Boston’s role in the abolition of slavery, check out this map.

8. John Paul II Placard

16 Charles St, Boston, MA 02108
John Paul II passes through Dorchester in 1979.
Photo via Boston.com archive

This placard went up to commemorate the first Mass that the relatively new pontiff celebrated in the United States—October 1, 1979 in Boston Common.

16 Charles St
Boston, MA 02108

9. Founders Memorial

99 Spruce St, Boston, MA 02108

Right where Spruce Street meets Beacon Street is a relief sculpture commemorating the 300th anniversary of the founding of Boston.

John Francis Paramino designed it and the city unveiled it in 1930.

The sculpture depicts William Blackstone, the city’s first European resident, greeting colonial Gov. John Winthrop.

99 Spruce St
Boston, MA 02108

10. Shaw Memorial Elms

Boston, MA 02108

On either side of the memorial to the 54th Massachusetts, perhaps the most famous feature of Boston Common this side of the Frog Pond, are two trees believed to be the oldest English elms in the Western Hemisphere.

Dating confirms these trees were planted sometime between 1772 and 1812, and with the permission of John Hancock, who lived nearby where the State House now looms.

11. Learning, Religion, and Industry

147 Tremont St, Boston, MA 02111

Right between the Boston Common Visitors Center and Tremont Street are three bronze and granite sculptures depicting Learning, Religion, and Industry

They were erected in 1961 to honor Boston philanthropist George Francis Parkman Jr. Arcangelo Cascieri and Adio Biccari sculpted the trio.

147 Tremont St
Boston, MA 02111

12. Marquis de Lafayette Plaque

5 Temple Pl, Boston, MA 02111
Wally Gobetz/Flickr

Just back from where Tremont Street meets Temple Place is a plaque honoring the Marquis de Lafayette, the famed aide de camp to General Washington during the Revolution who tried to spur similar idealism in his native France.

More to the point, the plaque commemorates a grand Lafayette Mall that used to run along that side of the Common. It opened in 1824 in honor of Lafayette’s visit to the city, but disappeared into present-day Tremont in the late 1890s to make way for the T.

The plaque, a bas-relief that John Francis Paramino designed, went up in 1924 on the 100th anniversary of that visit.

5 Temple Pl
Boston, MA 02111

13. Park Street Station

Tremont St & Park Street & Winter Street, Boston, MA 02108

Wait, why include the Park Street T stop on a map of hidden gems in Boston Common and the Public Garden? Glad you asked!

The station is one of the T’s two oldest—the other being Boylston Street, which also opened in 1897. And, because Park Street Station is one of the two oldest hubs on the T, it’s also one of the two oldest subway stations in the Western Hemisphere—because the T is the oldest subway system.

Got it?

Tremont St & Park Street & Winter Street
Boston, MA 02108