The Frog Pond is the heart of the Common all year round. In summer, it provides an escape from the heat and a great spot for a picnic. Children from all over the city squeal and splash in the spray pool, while grownups wade in or watch from the grassy slopes. Children also enjoy taking a ride 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, always seems to have a happy crowd of youngsters, and the year-round café is a welcome respite no matter the temperature.
The Frog Pond is the only pond left of the original three on the Common. The once muddy pond, curbed and ornamented with a fountain, became the centerpiece of the mid-nineteenth-century Common. The fountain was in many ways the symbol of modern Boston. Its debut in October 1848 was the highlight of an extravagant daylong Water Celebration, hailing the introduction of the city’s public water system. Bells rang and cannon were fired.
FROM DECLINE TO RENEWAL
Through the decades the Frog Pond was the scene of many happy activities like model-boat sailing, skating on natural ice, and splashing in the spray pool. Then came a period of decline brought on by shrinking city budgets. A skating rink with artificial ice that had been constructed by the city in the 1970s was defunct due to lack of maintenance, and the derelict facility was an eyesore. The pond leaked, and there was not always water to fill it.
Rescue came in 1995 with city construction of a new skating rink and lease of the whole facility to the Boston Common Frog Pond Foundation. Under governance of the Parks Department, the Foundation—created by Thomas Kershaw—operated a skating program in winter, spray pool in summer, and a reflecting pool in spring and fall. The arrangement has been a signal success and continues under a new operator, the Skating Club of Boston.