Originally envisioned by then-Mayor Raymond Flynn in 1984 in his Harborpark Framework, the Boston Harborwalk arose as a commitment to protecting public access to the waterfront as the city redeveloped former industrial wharves following the Boston Harbor cleanup.
“First and foremost, Harborpark is designed to guarantee public access to the unique environment along the Boston Harbor, while encouraging balanced growth along the entire waterfront.
“Second, the Harborpark concept brings rationality and a sense of public purpose to the process of growth. Each pier and wharf retains its own identity, yet each area has been integrated into an uninterrupted walkway that extends from Charlestown to South Boston.”
As Boston’s waterfront underwent extensive redevelopment over the next three decades, the Harborwalk emerged piece-by-piece. Now nearing completion, the Harborwalk is comprised of both the 12-foot pathway itself and associated public amenities such as parks, ground-floor “facilities of public accommodation” (e.g., restaurants, stores, cultural institutions, bathrooms) and water transportation infrastructure.