Boston’s Harborwalk from Chelsea Creek

The Harborwalk is a public walkway that begins at Chelsea Creek and goes through six neighborhoods in Boston to end at the Neponset River. Along the 46.9-mile waterfront walkway are an amazing number of attractions and amenities including a large variety of interpretative art of the past, present, and future along the Fan Pier, fish benches at Eastport Park by Judy McKie, and a 100-foot sea creature “Leviathan” by Wendy Ross. It is a well-maintained shoreline that crosses wharves, bridges, beaches, and piers and includes exhibits, cafes, museums, sculpture, and water transportation facilities. Sponsored by the Boston Harbor Association, the Harborwalk is an extensive well-planned area for residents and visitors alike to enjoy sightseeing, walking, cycling, boating, and playing, as well as the abundant wildlife and scenic views across the busy harbor.

The variety of attractions along the walkway varies as it winds through downtown and the neighborhoods of Chelsea, South and East Boston, Charleston, the North End, and Dorchester. Besides observation points on the Harborwalk, there are a series of inland trails or walkways that connect to the Emerald Necklace system of parks, the Charles River Esplanade, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The South Bay harbor trail leads to the Boston harbor on foot or bicycle and extends from the Ruggles MBTA station through Lower Roxbury, the South End, and Chinatown to the Fort Point Channel on the HarborWalk.

The neighborhood of Dorchester along the Harborwalk features three beaches, Malibu, Tenean, and Savin Hill, the Pope John Paul II Park, the Old Harbor Park, 65 acres of walkways, playing fields, and a number of recreational and cultural facilities. Arts on the Point at the University of Massachusetts Boston campus include Tony Smith’s sculpture “Stinger,” weighing 36,000 pounds and Willem deKooning’s “Reclining Figure.” The John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, on a 9.5-acre park on Columbia Point designed by architect I.M. Pei, has numerous exhibits from the life and history of our 35th president. Extensive restoration has brought back abundant wildlife such as snowy egrets and great blue herons to the Neponset II Park in Dorchester.

The Charleston area is the site of the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” in the Boston National Historical Park, a part of the old Navy shipyard. The ship, the Constitution Museum, and the WWII destroyer USS Cassin Young are all free to tour. The Charleston Navy Yard is also home to the Boston Marine Society, founded in 1742, and the oldest association of sea captains in the world. The building houses many maritime art, artifacts, and books, also free to view. Charleston is home to the Paul Revere Park, a perfect park for ballgames, fishing from the pier, taking in an outdoor performance, or enjoying the natural beauty of the area. The Korean War Memorial, honoring soldiers from Massachusetts who died in the Korean War, is located in the Shipyard Park, as well. Another popular attraction in Charleston is the Constitution Marina, a part of the Tudor Wharf, and adjacent to the Marriott Residence Inn. The hotel features educational displays of shipbuilders, artifacts, and early shipping and trading of the clipper ships in Boston Harbor.

East Boston along the Harborwalk is a bustling center for the maritime industry. From the early 19th century and the time of the famous clipper ship builder Donald McKay until today, it remains a busy waterfront pier for tugboat and cargo ships docking in Boston Harbor. In addition, visitors to East Boston can enjoy the 242-acre Belle Isle Marsh, a salt marsh natural habitat for a variety of wildlife, vegetation, and birds, and the Condor Street Urban Wild habitat bordering Chelsea Creek, as well as Lo Presti Park and Constitution Beach.

The North End and downtown portions of the Harborwalk are some of the most popular areas. In this highly visible, well-maintained area, tourists can visit the New England Aquarium, walk through Christopher Columbus Park, or take a swim in the Mirabella Pool. The Aquarium also has a theater, seal feeding, and permanent and temporary exhibits of fish and marine life. Prices for adults $17.95, children 3-11 $9.95, hours 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday and Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The Harborwalk continues on past the old India Wharf, where trading ships once sailed for India and is now the site of modern condominiums and a large metal sculpture “Untitled,” designed by David von Schlegell and designated a national landmark since 1964. Further down the walkway, are the delightful garden at Lewis Wharf and the Long Wharf, with the Marriott’s display of Spectacle Island and “A View of Boston Harbor,” by Rufus Porter, 19th century artist. The Puopolo and Langone Parks, designed in 1894, and the Steriti Memorial ice skating rink are also a part of the North End of the Harborwalk.

South Boston, the heart of Irish Boston, is well known for the Fish Pier, which opened in 1914 and remains the oldest working fishing pier in the U.S. Carson Beach extends along Pleasure Bay to Castle Island, connected to the mainland since 1930, and the site of Fort Independence, designated a national landmark and free to explore during the summer months,

The Boston Harbor Association sponsors boat tours and guided walking tours, free to the public, with reservations required. Future openings and further improvements to the 65,000 square foot Institute of Contemporary Art and the Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum, which will include replicas of the three ships the Beaver, the Eleanor, and the Dartmouth, are ongoing.

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