BOSTON, Boston Common
The Boston Common, founded in 1634, is the oldest public park in America.
The fifty acres of the Boston Common, the Nation’s oldest public park, have belonged to the citizens of Boston since 1634. That’s when each householder paid a minimum of six shillings toward its purchase from William Blackstone, the first European settler in Boston.
The seventeenth-century Common, rough and rural, was well suited as a pasture, its primary purpose. The village herd of seventy milk cows grazed peacefully, watched over by a townappointed keeper. 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.