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U.S. Forest Service
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United States Department of Agriculture

Living Memorials Project

The Public Garden  memorial construction site.
The Public Garden memorial construction site.
The central axis of the garden with views of Boston in the background.
The central axis of the garden with views of Boston in the background.

Boston Public Garden September 11, 2001 Memorial


To memorialize the victims of September 11, 2001 from Massachusetts and New England. This memorial will be a remembrance space for 250 families as well as a redesigned corner access-point of a vital Boston public open space resource.

Reason site was selected

The site was selected jointly by the board of the Massachusetts 9/11 fund in concert with the Mayor of Boston. Although there had been some discussion about the new parks that will be created as a part of the Big Dig as a potential site, it was deemed that this site is of a quality that ensures "reverence of space," according to the Mass 9/11 Fund director Linda Plazonja. It is America's first public botanic garden and a National Historic Landmark, with this being the first redesigned garden area in the Public Garden in recent years. The site is central to the city, historic, quiet, and is guaranteed to be maintained throughout time, which gave the Fund confidence in the ongoing dignity of the site. Moreover, given its strategic location and beloved Boston icons like the Swan Boats and the book "Make Way for Ducklings," nearly every family member and Bostonian has some positive connection with the Garden.

Events planned for site

Since the Public Garden is America's first botanical garden, active recreation and events are not permitted. It is directly across the street from the more active Boston Common where such activities are encouraged. As such, there will be a private dedication for the family members in July of 2004, but after that no events will be held at the memorial. It will only be used for quiet contemplation. Being situated at one of the main entranceways to the Garden, it will receive a high level of pedestrian traffic.

Do you believe your memorial is a sacred place?

Plazonja believes that it will be sacred because it is a "the Public Garden is beautiful place and each individual name is, treated with dignity and respect." She added, "because of the City’s compassion for the families, this memorial is as close as Boston comes to a public display of affection. While Bostonians are typically as guarded about jubilation as they are about sheer misery, this memorial is as close as we come to wearing our hearts on our sleeves." A project participant noted that there may be criticism at either extreme for building in the garden or for not doing something monumental enough, but that this memorial is not designed like a monument. It is a quiet place integrated into the landscape, featuring 198 names, vernacular language like "mother" and "brother".
  • Sponsored by Massachusetts 9/11 Fund; City of Boston; Designed by Walter-Kleusing Design Group
  • Site maintained by Boston Parks Department; Friends of the Public Garden and Common; September 11, 2001 Memorial Endowment Project
  • Project website contact
  • Project email contact
  • Address Boston Public Garden, Arlington St. Entrance
  • City, State, ZIP Boston, Massachusetts  02116
  • County Suffolk
  • Dedication Jul. 12, 2004
  • Status Under Construction and permanent
  • Artwork No
  • Public access yes
  • Public events No
  • Sq. Foot approximately 5000 sq ft
  • Acreage 
  • Number & Species of Trees 21-100: Only a few new trees will be planted, along with a number of shrubs and flowers. Existing species on this parcel include Oak, Elm, Lilac, Honey Locust, Ginkgo, Sycamore, Silverbell, Cherry, Magnolia, and Maple.
  • This project is best described as a Park
  • This project is unique because of the Site Planning Process
  • Project Sponsors and Participants
  • Is the community involved? yes
  • Project was initiated by Non-Profit
  • Land is owned by City
  • Type of participants Staff and Volunteers
  • Number of people involved more than 100
  • Percent of those involved who are volunteers 75% to 99%
  • Are people expected to stay involved? yes
  • For more information contact,