News & Events

Cultural Treasures of Beacon Street: A Walking Tour of Boston’s Public Garden and the Boston Athenæum

Friday, October 28, 2016, 2-4:00 p.m.

Edmund Sandars (ca. 1876-1942), The Public Garden, Boston, Mass., 1930. Watercolor. Boston Athenæum, Gift of William Ely Churchill on behalf of the Churchill Family, October 2007.

Boston’s Public Garden—the first public botanical garden in the United States—and the Boston Athenæum—one of the country’s oldest and most distinguished independent libraries—have been neighbors since the Athenæum’s current home opened at 10½ Beacon Street in 1849. Historically the Friends of the Public Garden and the Athenaeum have incubated the arts and culture in the city and have had a common interest in Boston’s built and natural environments.

In addition to sharing a role in the cultural life of the city, the Friends and the Athenæum share talented docents! Join Dale Linder, Karla Rojas, and Sherley Smith for a tour of both the Public Garden and the Boston Athenæum to explore historic spaces and collections that helped shape public life, culture, and intellectual discourse in Boston.

The tour will begin at 2 pm in the Boston Public Garden at the Make Way for Ducklings sculpture (located near the gate at the corner of Beacon Street and Charles Street). Following a 45-minute walking tour of the Public Garden, we will make our way across Boston Common and up to 10½ Beacon Street for light refreshments followed by a 45-minute tour of the Boston Athenæum.

  • Registration is required, and begins Wednesday, October 5 at 9:00a.m. $10 per person.
  • Participants should be prepared to walk and stand for two hours and wear weather-appropriate clothing. The tour will take place rain or shine.
  • This special tour is limited to 15 participants.

This tour is offered in partnership with the Boston Athenæum.


Members Reception

Tuesday, October 18, 2016, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Due a wonderfully positive response to our invitation, our Members Reception is now full to capacity! If you’d like to be on the waiting list for this event, please email membership@friendsofthepublicgarden.orgIf you have sent your RSVP and find you are unable to attend, please let us know, so that we can offer the seat to someone else. Thank you!

This year’s Members Reception will be Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30pm at the Four Seasons Boston. Reception to follow.

Our guest speaker will be John Alschuler, Chairman of HR&A Advisors, the lead consultants for Imagine Boston 2030, a citywide master plan, and an internationally recognized multidisciplinary firm focused on increasing the vitality of urban life. John is Emeritus Chair of the Friends of the High Line.

RSVPs are required as space is limited. This event is complimentary for current Members only.

Not a member? Join now here.

Thank you to Motor Mart Garage for their generous sponsorship of the event.

motor mart logo

Public Garden Tours; Untold Stories of the Public Garden

May to September

Join our wonderful volunteers for a free guided walking tour of the Public Garden. Learn about the history, horticulture, and sculptures that make America’s first public botanical garden such a special place.

Tuesday-Thursday, 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Meet at the Make Way for Ducklings statue.



Brewer Fountain Plaza, Boston Common

April to November

The Friends of the Public Garden is excited to announce that the following food trucks have been selected for our 2016 rotating food truck program at the Brewer Fountain Plaza on the Boston Common (near Park Street Station).  The program started in April and runs through November.

Follow each truck on Twitter to get real-time updates.

Bon Me (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 11 am – 3 pm)
Bon Me has been serving bold, fresh, and fun Vietnamese food since they won the City of Boston’s food truck challenge in 2011. Six food trucks and five restaurants later, they’re serving their healthful and exciting sandwiches, noodle salads, and rice bowls to Boston and beyond. Twitter: @bonme

blazing salads on wheels  (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 am – 3 pm)
blazing salads on wheels is committed to the long-standing family tradition of serving their customers as if they were family. Using only the best ingredients, they offer a menu of healthy and delicious homemade Mediterranean inspired dishes in concert with traditional salads and sandwiches. Twitter: @blzonwheels

Cookie Monstah  (Saturdays and Sundays, 12 –6 pm)
The Cookie Monstah truck specializes in fresh-baked cookies and brownies.  All of their delicious cookies are baked fresh every day and they keep it simple, delicious and healthy.  Additionally, they have locally-sourced ice cream to go with their baked goods. Twitter: @MonstahTruck

Berklee College of Music piano performances will be back in late April. Lunchtimes during the week 12-2, and Thursday evening jazz performances at 5 pm.


Swan Boats

April to September

Public_Garden_Swan_Boats5_crop_webThe Swan Boats are the enduring centerpiece of the Public Garden and the only boats of their kind in the world. They were launched in 1877 by shipbuilder Robert Paget, a lover of opera, who had been inspired by the finale of Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin, when the hero crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan. He designed a new boat, with a foot-propelled paddle mechanism enclosed by the figure of a giant swan.

Only a year after the Swan Boats began, Paget died at the age of 42, leaving his wife, Julia, and four children. The young widow assumed full management of the new enterprise, persevering despite the prejudice against women business owners. Her descendants, the fourth generation of Pagets, still operate the Swan Boats, continuing a cherished tradition.

Seven days a week, from early April to late September, the Swan Boats glide in a serpentine course around the lagoon. The fifteen-minute ride, at about two miles an hour, goes around the rocky island made famous in Make Way for Ducklings, under the bridge, and back to dry land. Many famous people have made the quaint voyage, including child actress Shirley Temple, singer Judy Collins, and U.S. presidents Calvin Coolidge and John Kennedy.

For schedules, fares, and more information, check out the Swan Boats website:


Frog Pond

All Year

Common_FrogpondThe Frog Pond is the year-round heart of Boston Common. In summer, it provides an escape from the heat and a great spot for a picnic. Children splash in the spray pool, while grownups wade in or watch from the grassy slopes. Children also enjoy riding on the colorful carousel nearby. In winter, skaters of all ages stumble, glide, and twirl on the refrigerated ice as lively music fills the air. In spring and fall, the pond becomes a peaceful reflecting pool. The adjacent Tadpole Playground, installed in 2002, attracts a steady flow of youngsters, and the year-round café is a welcome respite no matter the temperature.

In 1995, after decades of decline throughout Boston’s parks, the city constructed a new skating rink and leased the facility to the Boston Common Frog Pond Foundation, created by Thomas Kershaw. Under governance of the Parks Department, the Foundation operated a winter skating program and managed other seasonal activities. This successful arrangement continues under a new operator, the Skating Club of Boston. Click here to learn more about Frog Pond activities.


Duckling Day

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Thank you all for joining the Friends of the Public Garden for this Mothers Day tradition that celebrates springtime in our most beloved parks! Photos from 2016 Duckling Day here!

More information can be found at our Duckling Day page.