The Public Garden is the city’s heart. History stands on the park’s perimeters; statues to the great and the godly document the importance Boston played in creating modern arts and sciences. Bostonians know the long hard winter is over when the Swan Boats are trucked in and dusted off for another season. Perhaps most memorable is the statue of General George Washington on his noble steed, still leading the charge through the USA’s first botanical garden.
Across Charles Street, the Boston Common—the country’s first public park—was once common land used for sheep and livestock grazing. Until 1817, the Common was used for public hangings, including the vicious sanctioned murder of four Quakers in 1660, hung by the hypocritical Puritan elite simply because of their faith. Latter-day uses include festivals and rallies, concerts and fairs. It’s also the site of the city’s annual holiday tree lighting, as well as the home of Frog Pond, where ice-skating in winter is a time-honored ritual.