(colloquially referred to as Comm Ave
by locals, the latter word pronounced in the same manner as "have") is a major street in the cities of Boston
. It begins at the western edge of the Public Garden
, and continues west through the neighborhoods of the Back Bay
, Kenmore Square
and Chestnut Hill
. It continues as part of Route 30
until it crosses the Charles River
at the border of the town of Weston
Designed in a manner similar to Georges-Eugène Haussmann's
Paris boulevards, Commonwealth Avenue
is a parkway
divided at center by a wide grassy mall. This greenway, called Commonwealth Avenue Mall
, is punctuated with statuary and memorials, and forms the narrowest "link" in the Emerald Necklace
. It connects the Public Garden
to the Fens
Where Commonwealth Avenue reaches Kenmore Square, the MBTA Green Line "B" Branch rises above ground and dominates the center of the roadway through the campus of Boston University and the neighborhoods of Allston and Brighton to the city of Newton near Boston College. The section in Newton is made up of two roadways separated by a grassy median lined with trees. The south side of the roadway contains the main, two-lane east-west roadway, with a one-way, westbound "carriage road" providing local access on the north side of the median.
The Commonwealth Avenue Mall was designed by Arthur Delevan Gilman
. Frederick Law Olmsted
designed the Newton portion of Commonwealth Ave and included the parkway as part of the Emerald Necklace park system. The first statue on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall was erected in 1865 at Arlington Street.
The Newton end of the roadway was constructed in 1895 with a line of the Middlesex and Boston Street Railway in the median. Train service was cut back to its present terminus at the Boston border in 1930 and buses last ran on Commonwealth Avenue in 1976. An amusement park and ballroom known as Norumbega Park was built at the end of the line on the Charles River in 1897 to increase streetcar patronage.
Starting at the Public Garden, the following statues can be seen on the mall:
- Alexander Hamilton, co-author of the Federalist Papers.
- John Glover, Revolutionary War soldier.
- Patrick Andrew Collins, former mayor of Boston.
- The Vendome Memorial, which honors nine firefighters killed in a fire at the adjacent Hotel Vendome in 1972.
- William Lloyd Garrison, abolitionist and journalist.
- Samuel Eliot Morison, naval historian and writer.
- The Boston Women's Memorial, with statues of Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley.
- Domingo Sarmiento, former president of Argentina.
- Leif Ericson, first European discoverer of Newfoundland.
In popular culture
Black Francis wrote the Pixies song "Tame" about female students he saw on Commonwealth Avenue.