And here we go! Walking the missing final section of the Emerald Necklace, from Franklin Park to Castle Island (and maybe a little extra, if my feet are up for it.) It’s about an 8-9 mile walk, so...a pretty big missing piece of Olmsted’s grand design!

This is the part of Franklin Park where I began my Emerald Necklace traverse two weeks ago. It’s on the west edge, near Shattuck hospital. Today, we go east through the park, and on to Dorchester and Southie.

2/ ImageImageImage
So technically, I’m still on the Emerald Necklace proper, weaving eastward through woods and hollows in the leafy realm of Franklin Park. However, there’s something of an obstacle to clear before you get to the other side, if you’re a pedestrian.

3/ ImageImageImage
The William Devane golf course, which comprises a huge piece of Franklin Park, is walkable if not particularly welcoming to walkers. The “safe” path through the course is long and meandering. You get a lot of “What are you doing here” looks.

This might be a theme of the walk

4/ ImageImageImage
Now, approaching the edge of Franklin Park, passing the zoo, we arrive at Columbia Road, which was meant to be the greenway connecting Franklin Park, Dorchester, and the harbor. It’s the backbone of the missing Emerald Necklace section. The section that never got its emeralds

5/ ImageImageImage
Columbia Road traverse begins. Notice the median in the middle of the road. If you took out a car lane or two, this could easily be a nice arbory pathway weaving through Dorchester. There have been efforts to do this.

Weirdly, it was the one good part of Boston Olympics bid.

6/ ImageImageImage
It’s pretty telling, though, that the city only mulled finishing the Emerald Necklace in the context of a capital driven project that would have displaced lower income residents. Decisions about what neighborhoods get to have lots of parks and greenways are steeped in racism.

7/ ImageImageImage
As you get further down Columbia Road, the median gets more and more stripped of vegetation. You eventually reach these odd flower planters. Look at all the space around them! This could host trees and a nice dirt or paved pathway.

FFS, Boston.

8/ ImageImageImage
Taking a water break in the little oasis of Ceylon Park, which is one of the only green spaces along Columbia Road, and then pushing further northeast. Starting to smell the sea breeze.

9/ ImageImageImage
“Siri, what is irony?”

10/ ImageImage
The trees along Columbia Road are stubborn in the best way. They keep doing their thing, despite everything. Imagine what a renewed and equity-minded investment campaign for urban green spaces could yield.

11/ ImageImageImage
Passing the Dorchester North Burying Ground, just past Uphams Corner. Gate is locked today but imagine passing through here on a completed Emerald Necklace....

12/ ImageImageImage
A giant bronze pear statue honoring the agricultural roots of Dorchester. A nice parklet. More trees. And Columbia Road has curved eastward toward the harbor! Bring on that briny breeze, babe.

13/ ImageImageImage
Just gotta say, this is a great small business name. Especially for an auto shop.

14/ Image
The harbor is very close, but just like Everest climbers fear the perilous passage through the icefall, there’s something I’ve been quietly dreading for this whole walk along the missing Emerald Necklace segment...

15/ ImageImageImage
Crossing busy rotaries is THE WORST. No one wants to slow down, somewhat understandably, there are no walk signals, and you have to cross multiple outlets. Not okay. Could you install a raised bridge or a tunnel for pedestrians here?

Strangely, the trees at the I-93 rotary near Southie are quite gorgeous and abundant. A tonic for the stress of playing Russian Roulette with traffic.

17/ ImageImageImage
A welcome reprieve from the cars and concrete at Joe Moakley Park, which is the largest green space I’ve hit since beginning the Columbia Road traverse from Franklin Park. And just across the street, Carson Beach awaits.

18/ ImageImageImage
TFW you’re hydrating and preparing for the final stretch of a long walk, feeling good but also starting to realize how all this mileage (mostly on concrete) is going to make your feet and legs feel when you get out of bed the next morning.

19/ Image
I’m just realizing that there’s still a *lot* of ground to cover between Carson Beach and Castle Island. Long ass beach landscape.

Btw, I’ve been listening to The Revenant soundtrack via Spotify during parts of the walk and I’m finding it helpful for grudging willpower.

20/ ImageImageImage
Sure, you *could* call it a day with the Emerald Necklace extension once you reach the harbor. But you’d miss out on some great sand to stroll on, and some ethereal sights. Onward to Castle Island!

21/ ImageImageImage
And...more beach walk. Part of me wonders if it was really Olmsted’s intent to have the Emerald Necklace go all the way to the harbor walk and Castle Island. Then again, people did walk a lot more during the 1800s.

22/ ImageImageImage
Home stretch! I don’t come to the harbor walk enough. Probably because it’s hard to reach via the MBTA. But it’s really cool.

23/ ImageImageImage
Castle Island! Roughly 8 miles from where I began in Franklin Park. This unrealized section of the Emerald Necklace is almost as long as the segment that exists! Imagine making The Godfather Pt. 1 and being like, “Eh, we’re good”

Why hasn’t Olmsted’s project been finished?

24/ ImageImageImage
Okay, so there’s one big downside with this lost section of the Emerald Necklace, which I should have better planned for. It’s a long and tiring walk to Castle Island, and when you’re finished, you have to walk even further to get back to a public transit zone. Shit!

25/ ImageImageImage
Granted, you could just get an Uber, but I don’t like ride share companies and I’ve still got some gas in the tank. So, onward to the Seaport’s World Trade Center silver line station we go. An extra couple of miles through Southie streets and parks, at dusk.

26/ ImageImageImage
Never seen this before! A little greenway along the reserved channel that connects Southie to the Seaport.

27/ ImageImageImage
Why is it that your body suddenly starts to feel like crap during the last legs of a walk, race, hike, etc. After feeling improbably good for the majority of the pilgrimage? I’m blaming the Seaport.

28/ ImageImageImage
It’s hard to tell here, but I’m no longer having fun.

29/ Image
Ohhh save me, Jebus!!!

30/ Image
Tired, sore, about to eat Jamaican takeout and crush at least one beer, but the “lost” finale of the Emerald Necklace is practically screaming to be made more emerald-y. It would be a good move for green space equity, and it would yield a chain of parks almost 20 miles long!


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