The Boston Common, founded in 1634, is the oldest public park in America. Its forty-eight acres form a pentagon bounded by Tremont, Park, Beacon, Charles, and Boylston Streets. The Common attracts hundreds of thousands of people every year, both residents and visitors. A visitor information center for all of Boston is located on the Tremont Street side of the park.
From Colonial times to the present day, the Common has been at the center stage of American history. It has witnessed executions, sermons, protests, and celebrations, and it has hosted famous visitors from Generals Washington and Lafayette to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Pope John Paul II. In Colonial times, it served as a meeting place, pasture, and military training field. Bostonians in the nineteenth century added tree-lined malls and paths and, following the Civil War, monuments and fountains. The twentieth century saw victory gardens, troop entertainment, rallies for civil rights and against the Vietnam War, and the first papal mass in North America.
Today, the Common is the scene of sports, protests, and events large and small. Yet for all its adaptation to modern life, the Common remains a green retreat remindful of its storied past.