Boston Harbor – A National Park in your own Backyard

US Wealth Napolitano |

By: John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST

It wasn't too long ago that Boston waterways were such a mess that The Standells hit song “Dirty Water” was played everywhere. If you were unlucky enough to fall in the Charles River – you needed to get a Tetanus shot. Our national treasure comprises 34 islands and peninsulas spread over 50 square miles.

Today – thanks to the foresight of city and federal planners, Boston is a model for clean urban waterways. This national park is managed by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. Their role is to coordinate the activities of each island, its managers and to develop and implement an overall management plan for the islands and the park as a whole. The members include the Commandant of the Coast Guard, the National Park Service, Mass Port Authority, MWRA, City of Boston, Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation, Boston Planning and Development Agency, Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center, The Trustees of Reservations, Boston Harbor Now and Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council.

A few facts about the Boston Harbor Islands that you may not know:

  • There are many frequent and inexpensive boat trips to get to the islands.  Click here to see the ferry operating schedule.
  • Spectacle Island got its name from the plethora of sea glass found on its shores.  Now that sea glass is considered a part of the natural treasure and it must remain on the island.
  • The islands have swimmable beaches. Some of the islands even have lifeguards.
  • If you’re a camper, then go pitch a tent on Peddocks, Bumpkin, Grape or Lovells island.
  • If you’re looking for something different to keep you busy – become a Citizen Scientist and volunteer for the many ongoing research projects happening on the islands.
  • Boston Light, the historic light house at the outer edge of Boston Harbor celebrated its 300th birthday in 2016. Ranger guided tours are available.
  • Visit the National Historic Landmark and Civil War era Fort Warren on Georges Island and realize how young you are. Georges Island is 39 acres at high tide and 53 acres at low tide.
  • Deer Island, largely known for the funky sewerage treatment tanks that are helping to keep our waterways clean, has been connected to the mainland due to the movement of sand during the hurricane of 1938.
  • Boston Harbor, in general, is one of the best places to catch Striped Bass on the east coast!
  • Most of the Boston Harbor Islands are home to a variety of wildlife – including many deer who swam out there to see if the grass was greener on the other side.