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One of the Oldest Tours in US Swan Boats of Boston at the Public Gardens

As with all things in Boston, everything has a significant historical background. Boston Commons and Public Gardens, the main park of Central Boston and a perfect spot to kick back and enjoy nature.

Swan Boats of Boston
Public Gardens Entrance

Fun Quick Facts – Boston Commons and Public Gardens

  • Boston Commons is the first park in America established in 1634
  • Public Gardens is the first botanical garden in the United States – 1837
  • Swan Tours – first boat tour – 1877
boston commons and public gardens
Boston Patriotism – Boston Bruins Jersey

What Makes the Swan Boats of Boston a Fun Ride at the Park

The swan boats of boston

  • Established in 1877 by Robert Paget in the Boston Frog Pond. He used the idea the bicycle principle and developed a catamaran style foot-propelled enclosed paddlewheel.
  • The swan was conceived as way to cover the paddlewheel.
  • The whole idea of the boat came about from Wagner’s opera Lohengrin where the knight saves his princess by crossing a fiver in a boat pulled by a swan.
  • 1878 – one year after Paget launched the first swan boat he died and left his wife Julia and their four small kids.
  • Going against convention Julia decided to continue her husband’s business and built it into what it is today.
  • Swan Boats is still run by the Paget family in partnership with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department 
  • Tour information for Swan Boats – 15 minute tour only costs $3 per adult and $1.50 for kids.

Interesting Facts about the First City Park in the United States –

Boston Commons

  • America’s oldest city park – established in 1634 on property that had been owned by the city’s first settler, William Blaxton.

  • The nearly four hundred year old park served as a camp for British Soldiers during the American Revolutionary War.

  • The Common is also home to one of Boston’s oldest graveyards, the Central Burying Ground. It houses graves of many British and American casualties from the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775.

  • It was also used for public hangings, notoriously for witches and Quakers.

  • It served as a grazing land for the farmers in the neighboring area, but that practice was discontinued as the land became overgrazed.

  • During colonial times, the British used the Common as a military base, as well as a place where criminals were hanged; the latter practice continued well into the early days of the Republic, until it was ceased in 1817.

  • Frog Pond lies in the center of the park. During the winter months people may use it as a natural skating rink. They even have a Skating Academy that offers “open enrollment!”

  • Each year, Nova Scotia (Canada) donates a Christmas tree to the Boston Common as a thanks for the city’s charity work following a disastrous explosion that destroyed half the city in 1917.

  • In 1913 and 1986 prehistoric sites were discovered on the Common indicating Native American presence in the area as far back as 8,500 years ago

  • Janis Joplin held her largest concert ever in the Common.

  • On October 21, 2006, the Common became the site of a new world record, when 30,128 Jack-o’-lanterns were lit simultaneously around the park at the Life is good Pumpkin Festival

  • Located on the Freedom Trail
freedom trail - public garden
Historic Boston – Along the Freedom Trail

Public Gardens

  • The Public Garden was established in 1837 when philanthropist Horace Gray petitioned for the use of land as the first public botanical garden in the United States.

  • The 24 acres (97,000 m2) landscape, which was once a salt marsh, was designed by George F. Meacham.

  • In the early days, people complained that the unnatural combinations of colorful plants were beyond the bounds of good taste. Now Boston calls the Public Garden one of its greatest attractions.

  • Operating since 1877, the Swan Boats work from Spring to Fall.


frog pond public garden - boston
Frog Pond at Public Gardens

Swan Boats of Boston at the Public Gardens One of the Oldest US Tours



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