Olmsted and most everyone else agreed that Jamaica Pond belonged in Boston's system of parks, and very few alterations were needed to improve upon this natural feature.
In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, some of Boston's wealthiest residents built summer homes to which they escaped from city life, when Jamaica Plain was still "the country." Later, an ice cutting industry developed. When the land was purchased by the city, the homes and icehouses were removed, and the area restored to what Olmsted described as "a natural sheet of water with quiet graceful shores . . ." Olmsted then saved much of the existing vegetation. Tree groupings, shrubs and pathways were added to frame the pond and enhance public use.
The pond plunged to more than 50 feet in depth, a kettlehole formed by an ancient glacier. Natural springs make it the largest and purest body of water in Boston. The state stocks the pond, and fishermen come here to catch trout and indigenous fish: pickerel, bass, hornpout and perch.
Today Bostonians flock to Jamaica Pond for concerts, children's programs, theater performances, rowing, sailing, fishing, running and biking with a view.
The boathouse and bandstand were added in 1912. The first concert attracted 6,000 listeners. Earlier, rowboats and canoes had been put into service, selected as much to enhance the idyllic scene as for their recreational value.
Today boats are for rent at the Pond in the summer season. For more information, call the Boathouse at 617-522-5061. Private boats are not allowed.
The Emerald Necklace Conservancy
is a non-profit citizen's advocacy group whose mission is to protect, restore, maintain and promote the landscape, waterways and parkways of the Emerald Necklace park system as special places for people to visit and enjoy. The organization focuses on the six parks designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.