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Mayor Walsh announces archaeological dig to begin today at American Legion Highway Playground in Franklin Park

May 11, 2015

Parks and Recreation

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Parks and Recreation

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the City of Boston will undertake an archaeological survey at the American Legion Highway Playground in historic Franklin Park to determine if proposed playground improvements will impactarchaeological sites. 

The American Legion Highway Playground is part of the Mayor’s “Youth Lead the Change” participatory budget initiative, a first of its kind $1 million capital budget project designed by the Mayor's Department of Youth Engagement and Employment and chosen by Boston residents aged between 12 and 25.

City of Boston Archaeologist, Joseph Bagley, will lead his volunteer team in the dig beginning May 11.  Crews will excavate approximately 30 small test units during a 1-2 week period.  The entirety of the playground and surrounding park will remain open to the public during the project and all pathways and equipment will remain open.   "This archaeological dig is a great opportunity for the young people who were involved in this project see their ideas become a reality,"said Mayor Walsh.   

On the afternoon of May 12, students who were directly involved in the development of the new American Legion Highway Playgroundproject will be joining the archaeologists on the dig.  

Playground improvements include infrastructure improvements and pathway construction for children with disabilities, new exercise and play equipment, benches, and resurfacing of play areas.  As Franklin Park is a designated Boston Landmark, the Boston Parks Department submitted the Playground project for architectural, landscape, and archaeological review through the Environment Department’s Boston Landmarks Commission, where it was approved with positive comments from the Commissioners.  Deed and map research revealed that the Playground was once the location of an 18th century farmhouse, and the small hill within the playground was a potential location for Native American use.  These known and potential historic resources made archaeological survey necessary prior to the commencement of construction.

“This is an ideal opportunity to explore Boston’s rural agricultural past and its deep Native history in one relatively small project,” said City Archaeologist Joe Bagley.   “We are hoping that we will be able to identify archaeological deposits in the area and thoroughly document and recover important data before the Parks and Recreation Department begins their work on the new playground this summer.”

The archaeological dig will be open to the public throughout the survey, and the public may also follow the dig online through regular updates on the City Archaeology Program’s Facebook and Twitter page.

Franklin Park was created in 1884 by Frederick Law Olmsted from several private farms as part of a series of connected Boston parks called the “Emerald Necklace.”

The City Archaeology Program was established in 1983 to preserve, protect, and promote Boston’s archaeological heritage.  With hundreds of known archaeological sites documented in Boston spanning nearly 10,000 years of human history, the City Archaeologist and a dedicated team of volunteers works to review development projects, excavate archaeological sites on public land, and manages over 1,000,000 artifacts excavated from dozens of archaeological surveys stored in the City Archaeology Laboratory repository