Adna Mohamed was one of three MLK Scholars who worked at Boston Harbor Now in July and August of 2018 as part of a team focused on studying public life on the Harborwalk. She and two other teens used Gehl Institute tools to track how the design of urban spaces affects how people use them and checked site data for our Harborwalk webtool. She is now a freshman at Williams college. The blog post below captures her observations.
My Thoughts on the Harborwalk
Growing up in South Boston, the only time I came anywhere near Boston Harbor was when I had tickets to the New England Aquarium. Now, having spent five weeks walking along the Harborwalk, I have come to the realization that there is more to do along it than gaze out across the water or taking a ride on a ferry.
The Aquarium is a great and well-known destination along the Harborwalk, but the outdoor area surrounding it is a vibrant public space with plenty of things to do. In addition to the family-friendly Imax theater, the space behind it offers tables have a picnic as you watch boats out on the water. The ramp connected to theater allows for easier access to different parts of the Aquarium. During my time there, I observed high volumes of people eating lobster or chicken fingers, slurping down ice cream, and soaking in the sun. From Duck Tours and trolley departures to the breezy Frog Pond Park to the concession stand to the seals playing in their outdoor tank, there seemed to be something for everyone to enjoy.
The most endearing image I came across during my time along this piece of the Harborwalk was a group of children sitting on the Harborwalk staircase as they peered at the water while eating lunch. They had found the right mix of sun and shade with a view and protection from traffic—the perfect place to have fun. Still, there are many areas that could be improved with additional shade, moveable furniture, and programming or just a design that invites people to keep exploring the Harborwalk until they find the spot that’s right for them.
Another public space that I would recommend is the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center. Sandwiched between prime destinations for tourism or spending time relaxing, it was often transformed by the many forms of public programming taking place. Some days there are lessons about skin protection with free sunscreen and skin imaging. On other days there are free Zumba classes and life-size blocks for children to play with. The many forms of activities provided by the center transform it from an information booth to a wonderful place to stop and spend time with family or friends. Even the people who didn’t want to participate in these activities were attracted to this piece of the Rose Kennedy Greenway by the carousel and the many food trucks and carts.
Across the Harbor in East Boston is LoPresti Park — the perfect place to take the kids, find a quiet place to eat, or hang out with friends. Located at 33 Sumner Street, the park contains multiple basketball courts, a children’s play lot, and a soccer field. It sits on four acres of land, is a short walk from the Blue Line’s Maverick Station, and is right by the water. LoPresti provides a serene and safe space to exercise, play, or simply lie down and sleep all with a gorgeous view of the skyline from the Seaport all the way around to Charlestown.