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Parks Department Recognized with Preservation and Climate Change Awards

The Boston Parks and Recreation Department’s mission of protecting the City of Boston park system’s storied legacy while embracing sustainability for future generations has been recognized with a pair of awards in historic preservation and climate resiliency.

The Boston Preservation Alliance recently announced that the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial on Boston Common is one of six 2022 Preservation Award recipients that will be recognized at their 34th Annual Preservation Achievement Awards ceremony being held October 20 at the historic Charles River Speedway Complex in Brighton.

A ceremony was held on Boston Common June 1 as the Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial was rededicated after a comprehensive $2.8 million restoration project undertaken by a partnership including the Friends of the Public Garden, the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the National Park Service, and the Museum of African American History. The scope of work included restoration of the bronze relief and surrounding stone, reinforcement and seismic protections, and plaza improvements to increase accessibility and access to the monument.

The restored Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial on Boston Common is lifted back into place in time for its public unveiling on June 1.
The restored Shaw 54th Regiment Memorial on Boston Common is lifted back into place in time for its public unveiling on June 1. (Photo credit: Michael Dwyer)

Considered one of the preeminent works of public art in the country, the Memorial honors the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, one of the first Black regiments to serve in the Civil War, and its white colonel, Robert Gould Shaw. As dramatized in the 1989 film “Glory,” the 54th served most notably at the Battle of Fort Wagner in South Carolina. News of their courage and determination on the battlefield spread and led to other Black regiments being formed, and by the end of the war 10% of the Union Army was made up of Black soldiers.

In 1865, Black businessman Joshua Benton Smith called for a memorial to be constructed in Boston and in 1883 artist Augustus Saint-Gaudens was commissioned. Dedicated to perfection, Saint-Gaudens did not complete the sculpture until 1897. By the late 20th century the Memorial was in extremely poor condition due to corrosion and vandalism. In 1981, the Friends of the Public Garden led a campaign for the monument’s restoration and to establish an endowment for its care. That partnership continues today with the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the National Park Service, and the Museum of African American History to ensure the memorial is properly preserved and maintained in order to enlighten and educate generations to come.

A second distinction was announced on June 16 when the Environmental Business Council of New England (EBC) shared that the Parks Department’s Langone Park/Puopolo Playground renewal project on the waterfront in the North End was the recipient of the 2022 EBC Award for Climate Change Project of the Year.

The park is the first in the city designed with climate resilient features embedded throughout to protect the shoreline, the neighborhood, and other public assets from projected sea level rise and increased storm events. In collaboration with Climate Ready Boston and other city agencies and stakeholders, the Parks Department built an integrated seawall internal to the park with overlooks and seating on an elevated boardwalk. 

 

Park users enjoy the recently-renovated Langone Park and Puopolo Playground complex on Boston’s historic waterfront built with an eye to the future by incorporating climate resilient features.
Park users enjoy the recently-renovated Langone Park and Puopolo Playground complex on Boston’s historic waterfront built with an eye to the future by incorporating climate resilient features. (Photo credit: Bret Clancy)

The design incorporates structural elements including ground improvements, micro piles, and lightweight soils to elevate the park up to seven feet without affecting adjacent structures, properties, and the existing seawall. The project also implements stormwater and infrastructure protection strategies to allow for programmed flood pathways and faster recovery of the park and neighborhood after storm events.

According to the EBC announcement, “the project provides critical, equitable, and climate-resilient active and passive recreation opportunities to a diverse, multi-generational population and the resilient solutions reflect an innovative combination of climate adaptation and mitigation considerations with high design value. The project acts as a proof of concept for the City of Boston’s commitment to Climate Resilient Design and serves as a testament to sustainable development and resiliency.”

The Award for Climate Change Project of the Year, established in January 2020, recognizes a project or endeavor which demonstrates leadership in climate change. The companies and agencies involved in the renewal project were honored at the EBC’s annual awards celebration at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Boston.

For more information please contact the Boston Parks and Recreation Department at (617) 635-4505. Stay up to date with news, events, and improvements in Boston parks by signing up for our email list at bit.ly/Get-Parks-Emails and following our social channels @bostonparksdept on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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