Featured Image

Boston Park Rangers

35 mm. slide.

Mounted Boston Park Rangers in front of Hunnewell Building

Photograph by Corliss Knapp Engle (1936-2009), United States
Hunnewell Building, Arnold Arboretum, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts
1984

The late 1970s and early 1980s saw and upswing in violence and vandalism in Boston, which led to a subsequent drop-off in visitation to city parks. Responding to the growing concern for Boston’s parklands, in 1982, under the aegis and management of the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, the Massachusetts Association for Olmsted Parks, The National Association for Olmsted Parks, Friends of the Public Garden and Common, and the Arnold Arboretum collaborated to create the Boston Park Ranger Program.

The concept of park rangers originated in the nineteenth century with Frederick Law Olmsted. Olmsted advised that there be a force of ‘Park Keepers’ to patrol the parks in an effort to prevent vandalism and to encourage the wise use of the City’s parks.

The Boston Park Rangers program was based on the urban ranger program in New York City and operated seasonally from 1982 until 1988. That first year the Boston Park Ranger Mounted Unit, which was established through a coordinated effort with the Boston Police Department and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department, patrolled the Arboretum on horseback. In the following years the Ranger program was expanded to include Franklin Park, Jamaica Pond and the Back Bay Fens.

The Archive Collection of the Arnold Arboretum holds the Records of the Boston Park Rangers Program, 1981-1988..

Corliss Knapp Engle (1936-2009) was a longtime friend of the Arnold Arboretum and a dedicated volunteer. Her beautiful color photographs of the landscape can be seen in The Arnold Arboretum Captured in Time: 1982-1987.

Also remember to visit our Image Collection, which includes historical landscape images of The Hunnewell Building.

This view from 1984 shows the facade of the building almost a decade before its full renovation in 1992.

Copyright © 2015, President and Fellows of Harvard College, Arnold Arboretum Archives; all rights reserved.