About This Location
Tucked away in Boston's North End neighborhood lies the Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, a verdant oasis amidst the urban backdrop. Spanning a considerable area, the park welcomes visitors with its sprawling green lawns, intricate trellises, vibrant flowerbeds, and abundant shade trees. Designed to cater to both young and old, the park boasts numerous benches, meandering trails, and a children's playground.
The park has roots tied to the Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus. According to historical accounts, they initially aimed to provide affordable housing using the land in the late 1960s. However, following an intervention by the Supreme Council of the Order, the area was transformed into a park, which was named in honor of Christopher Columbus. Another version of the story suggests that the park's initial designation was the Waterfront Park, envisioned by local banker Frank S. Christian. The decision to erect an Italian marble statue of Christopher Columbus was a spontaneous one, driven in part by the efforts of local advocate Arthur Stivaletta and given the green light by Mayor Kevin White in 1979, drawing significant support from the Italian-American community.
While the park stands as a testament to beauty and tranquility, it hasn't been without its share of controversies. In 1999, the Massachusetts Historical Society's director criticized the park, highlighting Boston's lack of direct ties to Christopher Columbus and suggesting the area would be better served paying homage to its origins as a fishing wharf. The Columbus statue itself has been a magnet for dissent, falling victim to vandalism on several occasions. In 2020, after the statue was beheaded, Mayor Marty Walsh took the decision to remove the remnants and store them. He later indicated that the statue might be replaced by one that honors the Italian immigration to America during the American Revolution.
Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park isn't just about statues and controversies. Its proximity to Faneuil Hall makes it an ideal spot for picnics. One can grab sandwiches and enjoy them amidst the park's captivating rose garden, dedicated to Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy. With ample space, children find the park a playground in its own right, running around freely.
For dog lovers, the park is welcoming. Dogs can enjoy the vast expanses, but they must be kept on a leash. The park's management is spearheaded by the non-profit, all-volunteer group, Friends of Christopher Columbus Park, established in 2001 by business individuals from the North End and Waterfront areas.
Regarding parking, there are metered spots along Atlantic Ave close to the park. For those looking for dedicated parking, the 286 Commercial Street Parking and Sargent’s Wharf Public Parking are excellent choices. And as with all natural retreats, visitors are encouraged to carry out what they bring in, ensuring they leave no trace and maintain the park's pristine beauty for generations to come.