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Family explores, photographs every park in Boston

May 19, 2017

The City's request for website photos led to one family’s adventure through more than 300 of Boston’s outdoor spaces.

In May 2016, the City's Department of Innovation and Technology asked people to share their photos of certain spots around Boston. The crowd-sourcing effort was a way to showcase the City on the new, redesigned Boston.gov.

Ed Lyons, a computer programmer in Brighton, answered the call.

The Digital Team spearheading the project wanted high-quality photos of more than 700 places for the website, but it was a difficult task for the small group to capture so many locations. The team’s solution? Ask for help from the people who know Boston best — its residents.

When Ed took a look at the list, he was shocked to discover there were so many parks in the City. He had lived in Boston for almost 20 years and had never been to a majority of the places listed. Ed decided to set out on an adventure to explore and photograph these places. At first, he was joined by his two children, six-year-old Fiona and three-year-old Eddie. His youngest child, Darcy, was born in June 2016. Ed started bringing Darcy along that September.

Ed and his family first began their journey by visiting the Urban Wilds on the list. He had no idea there was one located just a half mile away from where he lived. Urban wilds are remnants of the original ecosystem of Boston. There are roughly 40 found around the City, and the Lyons family explored and photographed them all.

One of Ed’s favorite photographs comes from Allandale Woods, an Urban Wild in Jamaica Plain.

Allandale Woods, an urban wild in Jamaica Plain

Next, the family moved onto the rest of the parks system. They visited more than 300 of Boston’s parks. Ed's favorite park to visit was Ramler Park in Fenway for its wonderful fountain and trellis. The park also has a brick path that’s marked with the names of all 150 species of birds in the Fens. There are many rabbits living in Ramler Park, which Ed’s children had a great time playing with.

A photo of Ramler Park in Fenway

Ramler Park in Fenway

Along the way, the family also visited other sites that the City had requested pictures of, like cemeteries and firehouses. Ed submitted the photos to the Boston.gov “Show off our City” group while also posting them to his Flickr account. The adventure took 370 days — the Lyons family visited their final location on May 17, 2017.

A map of parks and outdoor spaces visited by the Lyons family

When reflecting on the adventure, Ed said he and his family learned so much about the art and history of Boston during their travels. Ed didn’t realize how big the parks system was, and said that many other people don’t realize it, either. During his travels, Ed would ask people how many parks there were in the City. Many people guessed 75, and no one guessed above 125.

Visiting these parks and outdoor spaces was a great way for Ed to meet other residents and get to know the City. He found that most residents stick to the parks in their own neighborhood. With so many unique and amazing spaces to discover, he encouraged people to venture out and explore different parts of Boston.

Scroll down to see some of Ed's photos from the adventure. You can see even more photos by visiting Ed's Flickr account.

Hemenway Park in Dorchester

A slide at Fallon Field in Roslindale

Paris Street Playground in East Boston

Sweeney Playground in South Boston

Thetford Evans Playground in Dorchester

Marcella Park in Roxbury

Feeling inspired? Get outside and explore! Here's a list of parks to get you started.