Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

Group of islands in Boston, Massachusetts

42°19′7″N 70°56′45″W / 42.31861°N 70.94583°W / 42.31861; -70.94583Area1,482 acres (6.00 km2)[1]EstablishedNovember 12, 1996Governing bodyBoston Harbor Islands Partnership which includes the National Park Service together with other federal, state, city, and nonprofit agencies.WebsiteBoston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area

The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is a national recreation area situated among the islands of Boston Harbor of Boston, Massachusetts. The area is made up of a collection of islands, together with a former island and a peninsula, many of which are open for public recreation and some of which are very small and best suited for wildlife. The area is run by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership.[2] It includes the Boston Harbor Islands State Park, managed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Twenty-one of the 34 islands in the area are also included in the Boston Harbor Islands Archeological District.

Attractions include hiking trails, beaches, the Civil War-era Fort Warren on Georges Island and Boston Light on Little Brewster Island, the oldest lighthouse station in the United States.[3] Georges Island and Spectacle Island are served seasonally by ferries to and from Boston, connecting on weekends and summer weekdays with a shuttle boat to several other islands, Hull, and Hingham.[4]

In 1996, there was a project proposal by Boston's mayor Tom Menino and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Clifford A. Goudey to revitalize the aquaculture and fish population in Boston Harbor. This would have involved using the old tanks and granite canals on Moon Island.[5]

In 2008, Peddocks Island was used for filming scenes in Martin Scorsese's Shutter Island.[6]

List of islands and peninsulas

Map of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is made up of a series of rocky islands and other places on and around Boston Harbor. These include:[2][7]

Two islands (Castle Island and Spinnaker Island) in Boston Harbor are not part of the National Recreation Area, and other former islands (e.g. Apple Island, Governors Island and Noddle's Island) were obliterated by the formation of East Boston and the expansion of Logan International Airport before the area was designated.


The Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area is managed by the Boston Harbor Islands Partnership,[8] a statutory body established as a federal operating committee by the park enabling legislation. The partnership consists of individual members who represent a range of federal, state, city, and nonprofit agencies, including:

In addition, the Partnership includes representation from the Boston Harbor Islands Advisory Council, whose purpose is to make recommendations to the Partnership about park management. There are 13 Partners in total, together with 13 Alternates. Apart from the representative for the Coast Guard, who is appointed by the Secretary of Homeland Security, all the members of the partnership are appointed by the Secretary of the Interior after consultation with the appropriate agency or other body.[9][10][11]

In practice, day-to-day management of each individual island or other site is the responsibility of one of the partner agencies or other bodies. The partnership provides a consistency and coordination across the whole park.[12]

Boston Harbor Islands State Park

Boston Harbor Islands State Park is a Massachusetts state park comprising 13 islands located in Boston Harbor, which now forms part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.

The park was developed from the 1970s by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Management (DEM). In 1996, the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area was created, including the State Park's islands and many others. However, due to the unusual partnership management arrangements of the National Recreation Area, the State Park still exists as a low profile administrative entity. It is now managed by the DEM's successor, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, from a park headquarters near to the ferry terminal in Hingham.[12]

The islands of the Boston Harbor Islands State Park are:[12]


Ferries of the Harbor Islands Express link downtown Boston with some of the islands.

Boston Harbor Cruises offers ferry service from Long Wharf at Christopher Columbus Park to Georges and Spectacle Islands.[13] Free service is available between Georges and Spectacle, as well as between the other islands.[14] Summer service is also available from Hingham Shipyard and Hull to Georges Island via Grape, Bumpkin, and Lovells Islands.[15] (These services are separate from MBTA Boat harbor ferries.)

Thompson Island is only open to the public on Sundays during the summer. It is served by a ferry leaving from both Spectacle Island and the EDIC dock on Terminal Street in South Boston,[16] operated by the Thompson Island Outward Bound Education Center.[17]

Private boats can dock (with various restrictions) at Spectacle, Grape, Bumpkin, Lovells, and Peddocks Islands.[18] The public dock on Georges Island was recently condemned by engineers, although access is still available by making anchor off shore and using a dinghy to row ashore.

Deer Island, Nut Island, Worlds End, and Webb Memorial are accessible by road from the mainland. Moon Island and Long Island are not open to the public; though Moon Island is accessible by road from Quincy, access is controlled by a police guard station at the beginning of the causeway on the Squantum peninsula. The causeway from Moon Island to Long Island was demolished in 2015 and it is no longer accessible by road.

See also


  1. ^ "Listing of acreage – December 31, 2011" (XLSX). Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved December 16, 2012. (National Park Service Acreage Reports)
  2. ^ a b "Boston Harbor Islands Visitor's Guide - The Islands". Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. Archived from the original on August 13, 2006. Retrieved August 9, 2006.
  3. ^ "National Historic Landmark nomination for Boston Light". National Park Service. Archived from the original on June 14, 2006. Retrieved June 18, 2006.
  4. ^ "Boston Harbor Islands Ferry Schedule". Boston Harbor Cruises. Archived from the original on June 26, 2014. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  5. ^ Cf. Best; Cf. Marcus
  6. ^ Riglian, Adam (April 14, 2008). "DiCaprio, Scorsese filming on Peddocks Island". The Patriot Ledger. GateHouse Media. Archived from the original on October 27, 2008. Retrieved May 21, 2008.
  7. ^ US Geological Survey 7.5 minute series topographic map "Hull" 1971
  8. ^ "Boston Harbor Islands Partnership - Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service)". Retrieved April 4, 2018.
  9. ^ "Islands Partnership - Governance". Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. Archived from the original on October 5, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  10. ^ "Islands Partnership - Membership". Boston Harbor Islands Partnership. Archived from the original on August 30, 2006. Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  11. ^ "Public Law 104-33, 110 Stat. 4093 Sec. 1029. Boston Harbor Islands Recreation Area". Retrieved October 6, 2006.
  12. ^ a b c "Boston Harbor Islands - General Management Plan" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved October 19, 2006.
  13. ^ "WTA - Boston Harbor Islands". Archived from the original on July 28, 2010. Retrieved July 31, 2010.
  14. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on July 24, 2008. Retrieved June 25, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "Ferry Schedule". Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  16. ^ [permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "Ferry Tickets | Boston Harbor Islands". Archived from the original on July 8, 2011. Retrieved July 26, 2010.
  18. ^ "Boston Harbor Islands Trip Planner | Docks & Marinas | Boston Harbor Islands". Archived from the original on July 10, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2010.


  • Best, Neil A., "Preliminary Design of a Recirculating Aquaculture System in Boston Harbor", Masters Thesis, Ocean Engineering, MIT, February 1997. Technical Advisor, Clifford A. Goudey.
  • The Boston Globe, "Harboring recreation", Guest Editorial, June 3, 2006.
  • Kales, Emily, Kales, David, "All About the Boston Harbor Islands", Hewitts Cove Publishing, 1983.
  • Marcus, John, "Scientists Test Once-Polluted Harbor’s Crop Potential", Los Angeles Times, Sunday, January 11, 1998
  • Mikal, Alan, "Exploring Boston Harbor", Christopher Publishing House, North Quincy, Massachusetts, 1973. ISBN 978-0-8158-0303-4
  • Northeastern Naturalist, Volume 12, Issue sp3, July 2005. Articles on the Boston Harbor Islands. [1]
  • Richburg, Julie A., Patterson, William A., III, "Historical Description of the Vegetation of the Boston Harbor Islands, 1600-2000", Northeastern Naturalist, v.12, Special Issue 3, 13-30, 2005.
  • Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, "Boston's Harbor Islands", Images of America series, 1998. ISBN 0-7524-0900-X
  • Sherman, Annie, "The Other Islands: The Harbor Islands make for an easy day trip for sunbathers, history buffs—and especially the traffic-weary", Boston magazine, May 2007 issue.
  • Snow, Edward Rowe
    • "The Islands of Boston Harbor", 1935. ISBN 0-396-08349-8 [2]
    • "Sailing Down Boston Bay", Yankee Publishing Company, 1941.
  • "Some Events of Boston and Its Neighbors", printed for the State Street Trust Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1917.
  • "The Islands of Boston Harbor", in "Some Events of Boston and Its Neighbors", Chapter 4, printed for the State Street Trust Company, Boston, Massachusetts, 1917.
  • Sweetser, M.F., "King's Handbook of Boston Harbor", Moses King Corporation, Boston, 1882; reprinted in 1988 by Applewood Books, and The Friends of Boston Harbor Islands, and in 2010 by BiblioLife. ISBN 978-1-141-97744-4 (2010 reprint). This book was written about the time when the first Boston almshouse was being built on Long Island.

Further reading

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.
  • Metro (Boston edition) newspaper, "Boston Harbor Islands", Boston Neighborhood section, August 1, 2007, p. 14.
  • "Harbor islands are jewels, but lack resources and accessibility", Boston Globe, OP/ED, Sunday, April 4, 2010

External links

  • flagMassachusetts portal
  • Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
  • Boston Harbor Islands Visitor Guide
  • Boston Harbor resources site
  • NOAA Soundings Map of Boston Harbor
  • Island Alliance (Boston Harbor)
  • Boston Harbor Islands - Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR).
  • The Boston Harbor Association resources
  • Boston Harbor Islands travel guide from Wikivoyage
  • Volunteers and Friends of the Boston Harbor Islands Inc. records, 1770-2011, University Archives and Special Collections, Joseph P. Healey Library, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • Sean M. Fisher (2015), Guide to Related Archival Collections Outside of the DCR Archives Pertaining to the Metropolitan Parks System, the Metropolitan Water Works System, and the State Forests and Parks System, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Department of Conservation and Recreation, OCLC 971134548, Boston Harbor Islands
  • v
  • t
  • e
Coastal reservationsRiver reservationsWoodland reservationsHeritage state parksParkways and roads
  • v
  • t
  • e
National Historical Parks
National Historic Sites
Other National Park Service units
National Wildlife Refuges
Wild and Scenic Rivers
Other protected areas
management areas
  • Agawam Lake
  • Agawam Mill Pond
  • Ashby
  • Ashfield Hawley
  • Attitash
  • Ayer Game Farm
  • Baddacook Pond
  • Bakers Pond
  • Bay Circuit Trail
  • Bearse Pond
  • Becket
  • Bennett
  • Birch Hill
  • Black Brook
  • Blackstone / West River
  • Bolton Flats
  • Boxboro Station
  • Brayton Point Salt Marsh
  • Breakneck Brook
  • Brewer Brook
  • Bullock Ledge
  • Burrage Pond
  • Canoe River
  • Catamount
  • Chalet
  • Chase Garden Creek Salt Marsh
  • Childs River
  • Chockalog Swamp
  • Church Homestead
  • Clapps Pond
  • Clinton Bluff
  • Concord River
  • Connecticut River
  • Cook Pond
  • Copicut
  • Coy Hill
  • Crane Pond
  • Cummington
  • Cusky Pond
  • Dartmoor Farm
  • Darwin Scott Memorial
  • Day Mountain
  • Deerfield River
  • Dogfish Bar Beach Coastal
  • Dolomite Ledges
  • Dunstable Brook
  • E. Kent Swift
  • Eagle Island
  • East Mountain
  • Eastham Salt Marsh
  • Elbow Meadow
  • English Salt Marsh
  • Eugene D. Moran
  • Facing Rock
  • Fairfield Brook
  • Farmington River
  • Fish Brook
  • Fisherville Pond
  • Fisk Forestdale Lot
  • Fisk Meadows
  • Five Mile River
  • Flagg Swamp
  • Flint Pond
  • Four Chimneys
  • Fox Den
  • Fox Island Salt Marsh
  • Frances A. Crane
  • George L. Darey Housatonic Valley
  • Glen Echo Lake
  • Gosnold
  • Grassy Pond (Dennis)
  • Grassy Pond (Plymouth)
  • Green River Access (Franklin County)
  • Green River (Berkshire County)
  • Greenfield River
  • Halfway Pond
  • Hamilton
  • Hancock
  • Harlow / Cooks Pond
  • Haskell Swamp
  • Hauk Swamp
  • Hawksnest State Park
  • Hawley
  • Head Of The Plains
  • Herman Covey
  • High Ridge
  • Hinsdale Flats
  • Hiram H. Fox
  • Hockomock Swamp
  • Hog Pond Lot
  • Honey Pot
  • Hoosatonic River
  • Hoosic River
  • Hop Brook
  • Housatonic River
  • Hubbard Brook
  • Hunting Hills
  • Hyannis Ponds
  • Ipswich River
  • John J. Kelly
  • Joint Base Cape Cod
  • Jug End
  • Jug End Fen
  • Kampoosa Fen
  • Katama Plains
  • Knops Pond
  • Konkapot River
  • Lackey Pond
  • Lake Lorraine
  • Lake Rohunta
  • Lake Snipatuit
  • Lake Warner
  • Lanesboro
  • Lawrence Brook
  • Lawrence Pond Lot
  • Leadmine
  • Leyden
  • Lilly Pond
  • Little Alum Pond
  • Long Sought For Pond
  • Maple Hill
  • Maple Springs
  • Martha Deering
  • Martin H. Burns
  • Mascuppic Lake
  • Mashpee Pine Barrens
  • Mashpee Pond Lot
  • Mashpee River
  • Mckinstry Brook
  • Meetinghouse Swamp
  • Merrill Pond
  • Miacomet Heath
  • Mill Brook Bogs
  • Mill River
  • Millers River
  • Mine Brook
  • Montague
  • Montague Plains
  • Moose Brook Access
  • Moose Brook
  • Moose Hill
  • Mossy Pond
  • Mount Watatic Reservation
  • Mt. Esther
  • Mt. Toby Highlands
  • Mt. Toby
  • Mt. Tom
  • Muddy Brook
  • Muddy Pond
  • Mulpus Brook
  • Nashua River
  • Natty Brook
  • Nemasket River
  • Nissitissit River
  • Noquochoke
  • Nordeen Marsh
  • North Brookfield
  • North Shore Salt Marsh
  • Northboro
  • Oakham
  • Olivers Pond
  • Orange
  • Otis
  • Packard Pond
  • Palmer
  • Pantry Brook
  • Pauchaug Brook
  • Peru
  • Peterson Swamp
  • Phillipston
  • Podunk Marsh
  • Poland Brook
  • Popple Camp
  • Popponesset Spit
  • Poutwater Pond
  • Powell Brook
  • Prince River
  • Provincetown Route 6 Corridor
  • Purchade Brook
  • Quaboag
  • Quacumquasit
  • Quag Pond Bog
  • Quashnet River
  • Quashnet Woods State Reservation
  • Quinapoxet River
  • Quinsigamond Marsh
  • Quisset
  • Raccoon Hill
  • Rainbow Beach
  • Red Brook
  • Richardson
  • Robbins Pond
  • Rochester
  • Rocky Gutter
  • Rowe
  • Salisbury Salt Marsh
  • Salisbury Salt Marsh WMA
  • Sandwich Game Farm
  • Sandy Pond
  • Satan's Kingdom
  • Savage Hill
  • Savoy
  • Sawmill River
  • Scorton Creek Coastal
  • SE Mass Bioreserve
  • Sevenmile River
  • Shattuck Brook
  • Sheperds Island
  • Shubael Pond
  • Sibley Brook
  • Sly Pond
  • South Barrier Beach
  • South Meadow Pond
  • South Shore Salt Marsh
  • South Triangle Pond
  • Southampton
  • Southwick
  • Spectacle Pond
  • Springhill Lot
  • Sputtermill Pond
  • Squannacook River
  • Stafford Hill
  • Sudbury River
  • Sunderland Islands
  • Taconic Mountain
  • Taunton River Access
  • Taunton River
  • Tekoa Mountain
  • Thad Ellis
  • Thayer Pond
  • Three Mile Pond
  • Townsend
  • Townsend Hill
  • Trapfall Brook
  • Triangle Pond
  • Tully Brook
  • Tully Mountain
  • Tully River
  • Wakeby Pond
  • Wales
  • Walnut Hill
  • Ware River
  • Warwick
  • Wendell
  • West Meadows
  • Westboro
  • Westfield River
  • Westfield
  • Weymouth Back River
  • Whately Great Swamp
  • Whately Ponds
  • Whately
  • Wilbraham Game Farm
  • William Forward
  • Williams River
  • Williamsburg
  • Winimusset
  • Wolf Swamp
  • Billingsgate Island
  • Carr Island
  • E. Howe Forbush
  • Egg Rock
  • Grace A. Robson
  • J.C. Phillips
  • Knight
  • Penikese Island
  • Ram Island (Mattapoisett)
  • Ram Island (Salisbury)
  • Susan B. Minns
  • Tarpaulin Cove
  • Watatic Mountain
  • Black Pond Bog
  • Boat Meadow
  • Francis Newhall Woods
  • Grassy Pond
  • Greene Swamp
  • Halfway Pond Island
  • Hawley Bog
  • Hockomock Swamp
  • Hoft Farm
  • Homer-Watcha
  • Katama Plains
  • McElwain-Olsen
  • Miacomet Moors
  • Reed Brook
  • Roger and Virginia Drury
  • Sandy Neck
  • David H. Smith Preserve and Fire Trail
  • Stacy Mountain
  • Tatkon
Audubon Society wildlife sanctuaries
  • v
  • t
  • e
  • v
  • t
  • e
National recreation areas of the United States
National Park Service
U.S. Forest Service
Bureau of Land
  • v
  • t
  • e
Map of the United States with Massachusetts highlighted
Lists by county
Lists by city
Barnstable County
Bristol County
Essex County
Hampden County
Middlesex County
Norfolk County
Suffolk County
Worcester County
Other lists
  • Category
  • National Register of Historic Places portal
  • flag United States portal
  • v
  • t
  • e
Islands in Boston Harbor
  • Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area
  • Snake
  • Italics indicate former islands
Authority control databases Edit this at Wikidata
  • VIAF
  • WorldCat
  • Germany