ABOUT THE HISTORICAL PHOTOGRAPHS "The happiest change in crowded downtown Boston in decades was the creation of Post Office Square park in 1991. In both photographs, we're at the corner of Pearl and Franklin streets. The older view shows a privately owned parking garage. It was so ghastly that in the 1980s, a few businesspeople, some of whom owned property fronting the site, formed a group called Friends of Post Office Square. With help from the city, they got control of the garage, demolished it, and replaced it with the park. The Friends were hoping, of course, to increase the value of downtown real estate by providing the buildings with a better front yard. But they achieved much more. They created a park that is one of America's urban gems. This was a case where private interest and public benefit proved to be identical. Post Office Square park embodies many lessons. For one thing, it sits on top of 1,400 underground parking spaces. That garage works like an underground spring to bubble people up through the park, thus keeping it occupied and lively. A handsome café, with some 100 outdoor chairs in good weather, is another people attractor. Both the garage and the café were designed by Cambridge architect Harry Ellenzweig. The park itself is the work of landscape architect Craig Halvorson, who planted 126 species of trees, shrubs, and flowers, including seven kinds of vines that climb over a marvelous wood-vaulted trellis. Also involved was an artist, Howard Ben Tre of Providence, who created two fountains of bronze and green English glass. Just as important as the design work, though, is the park's immaculate maintenance, still funded by the Friends. Post Office Square performs a miracle within the chaos of downtown Boston. It creates order. By providing a center where before there was none, it organizes everything around it as if by a kind of magnetism. Before, the buildings felt like a random jumble. Now they feel as if they're gathered around the park. Literary types may be reminded of the Wallace Stevens poem "Anecdote of the Jar," where the placement of a single jar in the foreground, a metaphor for art, snaps a shapeless Tennessee landscape into form. By the end of next year, downtown Boston will gain a new string of green spaces to be called the Rose Kennedy Greenway. If any of them equals the quality of Post Office Square, we'll be as delighted as we'll be surprised." -Robert Campbell and Peter Vanderwarker, "CITYSCAPES - The Perfect Park", Boston Globe, 28 November 2004 "A chunk of open space in the right location can transform a city. Already it`s clear that the new Post Office Square Park, in downtown Boston, will reorganize our perception of the maze of streets that is Boston`s business district. The park creates a new center, a place to refer to when you get disoriented – and who doesn`t, sometimes, downtown? It feels as if it should always have been here. The 1991 photo shows Post Office Square Park as it nears completion. Replacing an ugly city-owned garage, the park sits on top of seven new levels of underground parking. Local businesses, led by The Beacon Companies, took the initiative to create Post Office Square Park. Designed by The Halvorson Company, a firm of landscape architects, it will comprise a carpet of grass beneath a canopy of leaves, with more than 125 species of trees, shrubs, ground cover, vines, and flowers. There will be evergreens in winter, flowering shrubs in spring, perennials in summer, and spectacular foliage in fall. To get things off to a fast start, the Arnold Arboretum is providing five specimen trees with an average height of 30 feet. The step–top building behind the park in the center of the new photo is the New England Telephone headquarters building, designed by Cram and Ferguson and built in 1947. In its lobby is a 160-foot-long mural depicting scenes from telephone history, history that began in Boston with Alexander Graham Bell. The old photo, from 1901, shows the park site filled with two buildings that form a single block: the tower-topped Mutual Life Insurance Building, by architects Peabody & Stearns, and the New England Mutual Life Building, by N.J. Bradlee. Both buildings are draped in crepe in mourning for the death of President William McKinley." -Robert Campbell and Peter Vanderwarker, "CITYSCAPES - Post Office Square: A Park Place," Boston Globe, 1991