June 3, 1893

Massachusetts Creates Nation's First Regional Park System

Greater Boston

On this day in 1893, Governor William Eustis Russell signed a bill creating the Metropolitan Parks Commission, the nation's first regional park system. It was the result of planning and politicking by a group of far-sighted Bostonians concerned about rapidly disappearing open space. With its first funding, the new commission acquired over 7,000 acres in the space of 18 months. By 1900, it had protected 9,000 acres and built nine scenic parkways within 12 miles of Boston. Now managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, this system encompasses almost 20,000 acres and includes woodlands, beaches, swimming pools, skating rinks, bicycle paths, and — perhaps its best-known site — the Charles River Esplanade.

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