5 Reasons Boston’s Heart is Green

January 28, 2015 Phil Wild

While its meaning can vary depending on culture and circumstance, the colour green is almost universally connected with feelings of happiness, comfort, peace, hope, and excitement. So it’s no surprise that the colour green runs deep in Boston’s identify—from its parks to its sporting culture, and its renewed focus on the environment and sustainability. Shamrock, Emerald, Pantone 17-5641—whatever you call it, you’ll find plenty of it in America’s oldest major city.

So why green, you ask? Well if you’ve seen Hollywood classics such as The Departed and Good Will Hunting, you’ll know that the city has a strong Irish heritage. That might be where it started—but it’s certainly not where it ends. If there’s one thing you should know about Boston, it’s that everyone will claim that they are part Irish at some point or another, even if they’re not! Boston’s got a colourful streak indeed, and that colour is an eye-catching, envy-inducing green.

Green Spaces

Boston Common.

Boston Common.

In Boston, you’re rarely more than a stone’s throw from a pretty good patch of park. Take for instance the 48-acre Boston Common—the first public park in America. Established in 1634, the Boston Common (calling it ‘The Commons’ is the sure mark of a tourist) acts as clasp to the city’s ‘Emerald Necklace’, a 1,100-acre system of contiguous park that stretches throughout Boston and its neighboring city of Brookline.

The Boston Common is definitely worth checking out if you’re a history buff. Martin Luther King and Pope John Paul II have delivered speeches here, among others. It’s also the start of the Freedom Trail, a walk that takes you through the American Revolution step by step. As you can see, Boston’s understands the value of green space better than most—so grab a bike and get exploring.

Shamrock Green

Deserving of pride, the Celtics have won the NBA championship a record 17 times. Photo courtesy "mgstanton".

Deserving of pride, the Celtics have won the NBA championship a record 17 times. Photo courtesy “mgstanton”.

Sports fans will know that the cheeky little mascot of Boston’s NBA team is a leprechaun, and the team is known as the Celtics. If you’ve ever been to a game, then you’ll have seen a mass of otherwise rational people transformed into a tribe of green cultists, adorned head to toe in the Celtic’s famous shamrock green. It’s the same shade that’s customarily worn on St Patrick’s Day—even if one is not of Irish descent!

The Celtics have won the NBA championship a record 17 times, including a record eight titles in a row from 1959–66. Along with the MLB’s Red Sox, the NFL’s New England Patriots and the NHL’s Bruins, the Celtics embody the incredible sporting passion of the city. Boston’s won their fair share of sporting championships for a city of under a million residents—that’s for sure.

The Green Monster

The Green Monster is a popular nickname for Fenway's 37 foot tall left field wall.

The Green Monster is a popular nickname for Fenway’s 37 foot tall left field wall.

Baseball is generally considered to be America’s pastime, and apart from (arguably) the New York Yankees, no team is better known (or reviled) than Boston’s Red Sox—and no stadium more famous than Fenway Park. And while Fenway plays home to the Sox, it’s also the home of another famous resident: the Green Monster.

The Green Monster is a popular nickname for Fenway’s thirty-seven foot (11.33 m) tall left field wall. It’s been a part of Red Sox lore as far back as 1914, when it was introduced alongside the rest of the ballpark. According to legend, Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey ordered the construction of a wall tall enough to stop passers-by (aka ‘cheapskates’) from stealing a peek at the game. It earned its nickname when it was painted “Fenway Green”, a unique shade for which the Boston Red Sox hold the patent—so don’t make plans to paint your bedroom any time soon.

America’s Smartest and Greenest

The greenest grass at Harvard University.

The greenest grass at Harvard University.

Settled in 1620, Boston is one of America’s oldest and most historic cities. However, with over 100 colleges and over 250,000 students living in the metro area and Cambridge alone, Boston belies its age—it just feels vibrant and young. Boston and its surrounds are home to some of the best educational facilities in the world. While technically not in Boston, a quick hop across the Charles River to Cambridge will take you to both Harvard and MIT. Boston’s collective ego gained a boost late last year when Forbes ranked it the smartest city in America, beating out Pittsburgh and San Jose for top spot

Brains, technology, and innovation might be the not-so-secret recipe for making Boston one of the most environmentally friendly cities in the US, as well. Indeed, the city ranks high among the urban green elite. Sustainability efforts include a “Green by 2015″ goal to replace traditional taxi cabs with hybrid vehicles, recycle trash to power homes, and deploy more solar panels. There’s a focus here on the environment and sustainable practices that a lot of cities can’t match.

St Patrick’s Day and Evacuation Day

The St Patrick's day parade is one of the largest in the world. Photo by James B.

The St Patrick’s day parade is one of the largest in the world. Photo by James B.

According to legend, the earliest celebration of St Patrick’s Day in America took place in Boston in 1737, when colonists of Irish descent marked the event with a modest parade — it’s since grown in to anything but. The holiday draws more than 600,000 visitors to Boston annually—making its parade one of the largest in the world. If you don’t like loud music or singing in the street, best not to be in Boston on March 17. The day also marks Evacuation Day for several counties in Massachusetts, commemorating the British retreat from Boston. This holiday double-whammy makes for one heck of a party. Celebrations can attract up to a million people, all dressed up in green from head to toe. And, with more Irish pubs than any other city in the US, the party goes on all night!

The Colour Green Runs Deep

As the old song goes, “it’s not easy being green”; however Boston, with its rich history, sporting culture and world-renowned academic and cultural institutions, sure makes it looks effortless. The city may be at its ‘greenest’ in early summer (June and July), when parks are filled with flowering trees and emerald leaves—but the colour runs deep any time of year.

Getting There

G Adventures runs a number of departures stopping in Boston encompassing a wide range of departure dates and activities to cater for different tastes. We’re thrilled at the prospect of showing you this big blue planet of ours — check out our small group trips to North America here.

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