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Esplanade 2020 Vision


In 2009 The Esplanade Association (TEA) initiated Esplanade 2020, a park visioning study, in collaboration with the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to recommend and prioritize park improvements. The goal of Esplanade 2020 is To forge a shared vision for the park’s future—one rooted in its nineteenth century origins, but looking forward to address the needs of the broad contemporary public.”

The Charles River Esplanade ranks among the Commonwealth’s greatest assets. It lies at the center of a network of parks planned by landscape architect Charles Eliot in the 1890s—indeed, he called the Esplanade the system’s “crown jewel.” More than a century later, however, the jewel has lost its sparkle. The Esplanade needs revitalization and long-term care. A lack of resources, repeatedly deferred maintenance, and extraordinary popularity (an estimated 3 million annual visitors, reaching a typical daily peak of 20,000 in summer) have degraded the park’s paths, landscape, and beautiful original structures. The Esplanade has been “loved to death.” Although several studies have identified some of the park’s biggest problems, a broad vision for its future has never emerged. Until now.

As part of the park’s centennial in 2010, TEA assembled a team of leading Boston design and planning specialists to take a fresh look at every element of the park. Working closely with the DCR, park users, and major stakeholders, this dedicated group of volunteers spent more than a year crafting a vision of what this remarkable open-space resource could become. Landscape architects, urban designers, architects, horticulturists, transportation experts, and graphic designers donated thousands of hours to the 2020 Vision Committee. The 2020 Committee held more than a dozen meetings with the general public, individual stakeholders, business and community groups. Their input helped the committee establish guiding principles, create a vision statement, and define objectives. Esplanade 2020 illustrates ways in which these core principles, consistently applied, can transform Boston’s waterside park into one of the world’s great urban outdoor spaces.

Learn more about Esplanade 2020.

Click here to read the Esplanade 2020 Report

Click here to watch the Esplanade 2020 Presentation