Massachusetts has the distinction of being the first state with an entire network of parkways. With the publication of these Historic Parkways Treatment Guidelines, the Commonwealth also has the first comprehensive planning and management guide for such a system. It is with great pleasure that the Department of Conservation and Recreation presents the Guidelines, a culmination of five years of research, documentation, planning, and project implementation aimed at establishing a program for the stewardship of historic parkways across the Commonwealth.
Massachusetts parkways are closely tied to some of the great urban and recreational reform movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries - and are a key feature of a green metropolitan Boston in the twenty-first century. From the grand urban boulevards of greater Boston to the sedate summit roads of western Massachusetts, we are fortunate to possess a network of parkways that continue to function as scenic routes for the walking, bicycling and driving public over 100 years after their conception. At the same time, many of these historic parkways have deteriorated due to dramatic growth in automobile traffic, inadequate maintenance, and insensitive alterations. Widening, straightening, tree removal, and lack of regard for pedestrian and bicyclist safety have taken their toll.
With the Historic Parkways Treatment Guidelines, the Commonwealth has comprehensive design and management guidance tailored to its parkways. But the care and improvement of the parkways only begins here. We must use this document to protect the historic features of the parkways and to make all the parkways as useful and enjoyable as they can be for people visiting our parks or traveling by foot, bicycle or car. DCR looks forward to tackling this challenge in partnership with legislators, local officials, other state agencies, and concerned citizens, organizations and businesses.