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Park and Recreation

The biggest city park you've never been to

jpPhoto: Cara Brostrom


et’s face it: Franklin Park is Boston’s biggest green space you’ve probably never been to. You’re missing out. Along with Central Park in Manhattan and Prospect Park in Brooklyn, the 527-acre Franklin Park is considered one of the three best works of iconic landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted—his best, according to his son and successor, John C. Olmsted—modeled after the pastoral English countryside. It’s a peaceful oasis straddling congested Dorchester, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. But with a zoo, golf course, tennis courts, baseball fields, and several basketball courts, there’s still plenty to do. Thornton



Franklin Park, as originally envisioned by designer Frederick Law Olmsted, was to include a huge rural meadow grazed by sheep, a deer park, an amphitheater, a half-mile promenade called the Greeting, a 100-acre wilderness, and a field for children called the Playstead. But financial and political considerations got in the way, substituting sports grounds for empty meadows and a zoo where the Greeting was supposed to go.