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Boston, Massachusetts, United States

Commonwealth Ave Mall Monument Tour

A beautiful walk from Hereford Street to the Public Garden

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Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1.0 miles / 1.6 km
Duration: 1 hour or less
Family Friendly • Dog Friendly
Overview: This guide will take you on a stroll through the history of the United States. You will pass nine different monuments commemorating events and people that changed the history of both the city of Boston and the nation. Take the time to click on each of the informative links attached to this guide for a thorough description of each monument.

You will start near the Fenway exit off Storrow Drive and end up at the Boston Public Garden downtown a mile later. The Commonwealth Avenue Mall is the narrowest section of the Emerald Necklace Path in Boston and connects the Public Garden downtown to the Fens. If you are interested in further exploration, check the Public Garden Monument tour at for which there is a link.

Tips: It is best to ride your bike to this location as parking is sparse. By train get off at the Kenmore station and walk east down the mall. By car take the Fenway exit off Storrow Drive.

Points of Interest


Leif Eriksson

Start your Commonwealth Mall walk here at the south end just west of Massachusetts Avenue running above you. You'll need to jump on the sidewalk after viewing this monument until you get to Hereford Street, where you can again walk down the center of the mall.

This bronze sculpture of Leif Eriksson was created by Anne Whitney in 1887. Eriksson was a Norse (Scandanavian) explorer who is widely believed to be the first European to set foot on North America an estimated 500 years before Columbus. When this sculpture was commissioned it was believed that Eriksson landed on the shores of Massachussetts where he started his Vinland Settlement. Now scholars believe that Vinland was actually established farther north on the Canadian shoreline.

Check out the detailed plaques on each side of the statue that depict Eriksson landing on a rocky shore and later he and his crew recounting the story of the landing to others.

See the links section of this guide for more information, as well as a link to discover what the cryptic rune symbols on the sculpture may mean.

Domingo Faustino Sarmiento

This bronze and cement sculpture was made by Ivette Compagnion in 1973. Sarmiento was the president of Argentina from 1868 to 1874. He is said to have ended the age of the gaucho and begun the age where merchants and cattleman held the power in the country.

Sarmiento was a leader in the establishment of basic freedoms, civil safety and progress in his country. Having toured the United States as an abassador from 1865 to 1868, he became fond of the New England area, especially Boston from which he drew most of his inspiration for his political goals in Argentina. His good friend Horace Mann in the Massachussetts Senate influenced Sarmiento immensely in the area of educational reform.

This sculpture was donated to the Commonwealth Mall and Boston in 1973 by the Argentine Government to celebrate the accomplishments and friendship of Sarmiento and Mann. Sarmiento's face appears on the 50 Argentine pesos note.

Boston Women's Memorial

This bronze and granite scultpure was created by Meredith Gang Bergmann in 2003 through contributions from the Browne Fund and development by Boston's Women's Commission with the support of Angela Menino (wife of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino).

This monument features Abigail Adams (1744–1818), Lucy Stone (1818–1893) and Phillis Wheatley (1753–1784), three important women in U.S. history.

Adams, the wife of second President John Adams, was a strong woman who ran a family and farm while her husband was away on political travels. Her letters and advice to John Adams serve as accurate accounts of the evolution of the Revolutionary War.

Stone was an abolitionist who worked to end slavery, suffragist who worked for women's right to vote and a leader for women's rights. She started and supported the National Women's Rights Convention and was the first recorded American woman to retain her own last name after marriage.

Wheatley was a poet and the first African-American to have her writing published. She was born in Gambia, Senegal, and was made a slave at 7 years old. With the help of the Wheatley family who purchased her ,she learned to read and write, was emancipated and even earned the praise and respect of first President George Washington.

Bergmann created this sculpture at eye level instead of atop a podium, which promotes visitor interaction with the art.

Samuel Eliot Morison

This bronze and granite sculpture by Penelope Jencks was created in 1983 through contributions from the Henderson Foundation. A rear admiral in the U.S. Naval Reserve, Morison was a Harvard professor and well-known naval historian but you can't tell that from this sculpture. Instead, he looks like a typical Red Sox fan sitting on a rocky shore.

A Boston native, Morison won many naval and literary awards as both a scholar and sailor throughout his life (1887-1976). He wrote many authoritative books on naval history that became popular due to their readability and accuracy. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his Christopher Columbus biography and even sailed some of the routes Columbus was believed to have followed.

The sculpture here portrays his love for the ocean as a sailor rather than his literary skills.

William Lloyd Garrison

This old bronze and granite sculpture by Olin Levi Warner was created in 1886. Garrison (1805–1879) was a famous abolitionist, journalist and social reformer in the early 19th century. Born in Newburyport, he was the editor of the abolitionist paper the Liberator and helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society while also being an outspoken supporter of the women's suffrage movement in America.

Vendome Fire Memorial

This bronze sculpture by Ted Clausen and Peter White was created in 1998 through funds from the Vendome Firefighters Memorial Committee.

The Vendome Fire was, by far, the worst firefighting tragedy in the history of Boston. Nine firefighters were killed when five floors of the building collapsed down onto them after extinguishing a fire on June 17, 1972.

Built in 1871 the hotel still stands today at the southwest corner of the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue and Dartmouth Street. Look behind to your right from your direction of travel to see it. The monument was dedicated on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. Included here is a photo of what the hotel looked like in 1880.

Patrick Andrew Collins

This bronze and granite sculpture was created by Henry Kitson and Theodore Alice Kitson in 1908. Collins (1844–1905) immigrated with his family from Ireland to Chelsea, Mass., in 1848. After working in the trades and being secretary of his union, he entered politics studying at Harvard University.

From 1883 to 1889 he served in the U.S. Congress and in 1901 was elected as Mayor of Boston. He served as mayor from 1901 to 1905, when he suddenly died during a visit to Hot Springs, Va.

The two heads on either side of the statue represent his Irish background with one wearing a crown of laurel leaves holding a shield (liberty) and the other wearing a crown of shamrocks holding a harp (Erin or Ireland). The inscription on the sculpture describes how much Collins accomplished in his life as he moved from laborer to mayor.

Gen. John Glover

This bronze and granite sculpture was created by Martin Milmore in 1875. Gen. John Glover (1732–1797) was born in Salem, Mass., and served in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He is famous for leading a brave amphibious assault to save Gen. George Washington and his troops at the Battle of Long Island.

Alexander Hamilton

This granite sculpture was created by William Rimmer in 1865. Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804) was the U.S. secretary of the treasury, a Founding Father, economist and political philosopher. Hamilton helped Thomas Jefferson become third president by opposing his personal enemy Aaron Burr. By doing so and opposing his own party member John Adams in the election, Hamilton was left with few political friends.

In the 1804 election, after an insult to Burr, he was challenged to a duel by Burr. Hamilton did not fire back and was mortally wounded. Besides being one of the few to sign the Constitution, Hamilton also helped secure a unified economy and national bank for what he believed should be a strong federal government.

From this sculpture you can head back the way you came or enter the beautiful Public Garden across Arlington Street.
Pictures in this guide taken by: Photo by Jonathan Ellinger, Photo by Dan4th Nicholas @ Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution - 2.0 Generic License., Photo by Matt @ Flickr, available under a Creative Commons Attribution - 2.0 Generic License., Photo by Swampyank @ Wiki Commons, available under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License, Photo by Dr. Frog @ Wiki Commons released to the Public Domain, Photo in Public Domain at Wiki Commons, Photo by Moses King - released to public domain at Wiki Commons, Photo by Tomtheman5 @ Wiki Commons released into the Public Domain, Photo by ROxBo @ Wiki Commons released to the Public Domain

Jonathan Ellinger

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