The Alliance has a long, successful history working alongside concerned citizens and advocates to assure the long-term protection of the Esplanade. The Charles River Esplanade’s historic significance is undeniable. It dates back to 1892 when Frederick Law Olmsted designed Charlesbank, a park that was created on newly made land between what is now the Museum of Science and the Longfellow Bridge. Since then the park has evolved, but thanks to the Alliance role in getting the Esplanade designated a Boston Landmark in 2009, changes need to be reviewed and approved in a public process and with the guidance of the Boston Landmarks Commission. That review process has proceeded smoothly since that time, the park continuing to incrementally evolve and change appropriately.
The Alliance took the lead in the Landmarking effort along with Beacon Hill resident Linda Cox in response to 2007 plans by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to temporarily reroute Storrow Drive Traffic through the Esplanade to facilitate repairs to the Storrow Drive tunnel. The proposal met with great concern, with an unprecedented number of 850 Boston residents signing the Landmark Petition to assure proper public participation and Landmark Commission oversight of all future significant work at the Park. The effort was endorsed by the Esplanade Association, the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay, current Organizational Members of the Alliance.
Upon landmarking Mayor Menino noted, “Today, the City of Boston has bestowed an honor on the Charles River Esplanade that puts it in good company with other historic Boston parks and open spaces such as the Boston Common, the Commonwealth Avenue Mall and the Riverway. The petitioners, advocacy organizations and the Boston Landmarks Commission are to be commended for their dedication to our City’s historic resources and recognition of the historic importance of the Charles River Esplanade.”