Four Islands in One Day

DSC_0358Arriving at Spectacle-Photo: E. Duym, for OCLP
Hi Everyone! Week two has been an extremely informative and productive week! We were able to head out to the Boston Harbor, and visit four of the thirty-four Boston Harbor Islands National Park Area to begin photographing, documenting and mapping their landscape features. It is amazing how much a map can tell you, but until you visit the islands in person, you begin to realize just how different each is in terms of landscape, culture, history and contemporary use. Coming from an area of New England that is home to many islands, it was interesting to see how the Boston’s connection to these unique landscapes has evolved over time, from glacial activity, to settlement and military fortifications to industrialization and renewable energy resource management.DSC_0327 Spectacle Island, Interpretive signage, Photo: E. Duym, for OCLP

We were able to start our voyage off on Spectacle Island, and for me, was also the “ah-ha” moment of the week. Spectacle rose to the surface (for me) as an island that has an interestingly unique story to tell as a cultural landscape. As a capped landfill, it is home to excavated soils from Boston’s “Big-Dig” (a project that placed highways underground), and has undergone a capping process, allowing for recreation and interpretation to happen on the island. But before this, its history rotates through time as being a site for farming by Native Americans, settlers, and then on through the industrial period as a meat rendering plant.

The layers of history that accompany Spectacle Island to me, seem to be an interesting way of being able to visualize a cultural landscape that has seen change over time, not only physically, but culturally too. It asked the question of “How does a landscape adapt for future use, but also still tell a story of its past?” Adaptive reuse of this island as a recreational landscape is an interesting way of allowing the public to enjoy its scenery, but also show its history and educate on ways in which the City of Boston is finding re-use strategies for lands that may otherwise be overlooked!

We were then set to a task of visiting Rainsford, Lovells and lastly Georges Island, splitting up to traverse and photograph each island within about an hour! My fellow interns, Sasha, Shanasia, and Kristi, as well as Ashley and Margie made it happen! It was amazing! I was astonished to see how much change has happened since the islands were last documented for a Cultural Landscape Report in 1999!

The week was a busy one, and I definitely learned a lot from some of the work I have been doing with mapping and cataloging the new images,and SEVERAL very helpful AutoCad Map tutorials from Tim, as well as an informative meeting with Bonnie Hulda, a licensed Architect for the Park Service in the Philadelphia Office. It has been really great to gain perspective from so many people this week with such a vast array of interests and expertise!

DSC_0345 View of Boston Harbor, from Spectacle Island, Photo: E. Duym, for OCLP


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