Park Event Commemorates Designer Frederick Law Olmsted

Vehicles and urban noise are left behind in Dorchester Park thanks to the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted who outlined plans for this oasis in a handwritten letter to City of Boston engineer E.W. Howe on October 21, 1893. He let existing trees stand with walking paths around puddingstone rocks. He wanted people to walk through the landscape and encounter the aesthetic experience as art. His landscape design firm, Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot, completed plans on Dorchester Park when Olmsted was no longer able to work.

The park’s antique auto show on Sunday, September 11 from 10 to 2 celebrates Olmsted’s innovation. The visionary conservationist, author, social critic, public administrator and landscape architect was born 200 years ago on April 26, 1822. The event will include rides in a horse drawn wagon through the historic park which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Dorchester Park is part of a system of Boston parks developed by Olmsted’s firm from 1878 to 1896. These include; Boston Common, Public Garden, Commonwealth Avenue, Back Bay Fens, Jamaica Pond, Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park. This ring of green space is often referred to as “The Emerald Necklace.”

The park provides a view of Dorchester before buildings and roads were constructed. Cabinetmakers Ezra and Stephen Badlam might recognize their woodlot which is now part of the park. Furniture created by these Revolutionary War leaders in Lower Mills is displayed at the Dorchester Historical Society and Yale University.

Facilities for group activities are clustered near the borders of the park and include two ball fields, tennis courts, benches, picnic areas and a children’s play area with stepping stones to a large outcropping of puddingstone climbing rocks. The top of the hill near the large ball field provides a view of a former quarry which is now the Ashmont train yard.

Trees listed on an 1894 map include oak, beech, pine, maple spruce, birch, cherry, elm, cedar, fruit and nut trees. Spring bulbs, flowering shrubs and trees and fall foliage bring color to the park where a variety of birds live, including an occasional rafter of turkeys which roost almost invisibly in the trees.