JP A to Z: Z is for Zoo #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain

Z is for Zoo

Franklin Park Zoo is part of the large Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park on the border between Jamaica Plain and Roxbury.  It’s a popular destination for local families. Although it’s not a particularly great zoo compared to others I visited, it does have some strong points.  One is the African Lion exhibit, once home to the late & lamented Christopher whose roars echoed through the city, and now home to the brothers Dinari and Kamaia. The premier exhibit is the Tropical Forest which is home to a troop of gorillas including the baby Azize born last May.  The Franklin Farm contains a petting zoo, and we’re eagerly awaiting the opening of the new children’s zoo Nature’s Neighborhoods.


Post for “Z” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: Y is for Yarn #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain

Y is for Yarn

Jamaica Plainers like to knit and stitch.  And when they’re not making clothing, tea cosies, and afghan blankets, they sometimes “yarn bomb”  – a colorful way of bringing a little cheer to the neighborhood. With yarn.

Sadly, yarn bombing seems to be a seasonal activity so I haven’t found too many examples out in the wild this April.

You probably can’t make a call anymore, but at least the phone booth is warm.


Yarn decoration in the chain link fence by the English High playing fields.
For many yarn bombers, this is home base.
For many yarn bombers, this is home base.

JP Knit & Stitch routinely yarn bomb a post outside the store, but it never seems to be there when I have my camera.  Here’s a photo on Instagram.

Post for “Y” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: X is for eX-JP #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain

X is for eX-JP

X marks the spot, and today’s JP A to Z post marks things that used to be in JP but are now long gone.  I’m sure longtime JP residents can list many things that used to be in JP (please list in the comments!) but I’m just going to focus on a few major ones.

Boston Children’s Museum

I visited Boston for the first time as a child in 1980 and a highlight of that vacation was going to the Boston Children’s Museum at Fort Point Channel.  I’ve been back many times taking my kids.  It’s a terrific museum and I’m sure its current location makes it easy from families all over Boston and out-of-town to get there, but how cool is it that the museum actually got its start in Jamaica Plain?  And how convenient would it be if it were still there?

The Children’s Museum opened in Pinebank Mansion overlooking Jamaica Pond in 1913 (the mansion was demolished in 2007).  In 1936 the museum opened in a new location on Burroughs Street where it remained until moving to Fort Point in 1979.  That location is still there betraying very little of its hands-on museum past.


Green Line Arborway Branch

The Green Line E Branch or Arborway Branch once ran along S. Huntington Street to Centre Street to South Street to Forest Hills Station.  In 1985, service on this line was “temporarily” suspended, but it has not been restored in 31 years despites lawsuits and debates (and the fact the slow, overcrowded 39 bus is not an adequate replacement).  A few years back the tracks on the street were paved over and the trolley shelters at Forest Hills were removed as part of construction for Casey Arborway.

Ironically, this shelter was built in 1987 when the new station opened and was never used by a green line trolley.

There are still signs of the trolley if you know where to look.

One of the many trolley poles still lining South & Centre Streets


The door to the Galway Pub remembers the Arborway Trolley

The Elevated

From 1909 to 1987, elevated rapid transit trains rumbled over Washington Street in Jamaica Plain (roughly parallel to where the Orange Line now runs in the Southwest Corridor) making stops at Egleston Square, Green Street, and Forest Hills. It was a popular route and its existence certainly changed Jamaica Plain making it place where working people could live and commute into the city.  On the downside, it was noisy and blocked out sunlight on Washington Street, so many people were probably relieved when it came down.  Still, it would’ve been kind of cool if it had been renovated and maintained as an elevated walking/biking path akin to the High Line in New York.

A brand-new mural in Egleston Square remembers the Elevated.

Post for “X” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: W is for Wake Up the Earth #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain

W is for Wake Up the Earth

The winters in Jamaica Plain can be very harsh, so each spring the neighborhood explodes in springtime joy at the Wake Up the Earth Festival. The event, sponsored by Spontaneous Celebrations, begins with festive DIY parades that converge on the Southwest Corridor Park near Stony Brook station for a full day of music, dance, storytelling, food, arts, and a whole lot of fun.

The festival originated from the protests that stopped the construction of I-95 through the heart of Boston in the 1960s & 70s leading to the construction of the Southwest Corridor linear park instead.  Today instead of 40,000 cars a day, the Southwest Corridor moves people on trains (Amtrak, commuter rail, & Orange Line), bikes, feet, scooters, and skateboards, and one day of the year a wicked awesome party.

If the A to Z challenge extended into May, I could “live blog” the Wake Up the Earth Festival on May 7, but in the meantime you’ll have to check out some photos from the previous 7 years.


Related Posts:

Post for “W” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: V is for Views #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain

V is for Views

This blog is called Panorama of the Mountains, and although I live on a hill in a place named for a plain, I’m always inspired by a good view.

Here are some of my favorite views of Jamaica Plain:

If you go to the far side of Jamaica Pond and look across, the steeples and wood frame houses of Jamaica Plain make it look like a New England village, rather than a neighborhood in a bustling city.


If you go up Green Street towards Glen Road and Franklin Park and look back into the Stony Brook valley, Jamaica Plain looks more like an industrial town of the 19th century.


Jamaica Plain has been a New England village and an industrial town, so these characteristics live on.

Here’s a view many people won’t get to see as it is the view of Forest Hills from the roof of my house:


Finally, a view of the Boston skyline from Peters Hill in the Arnold Arboretum:



Post for “V” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

JP A to Z: U is for Ukraine Way #AtoZChallenge #JamaicaPlain

U is for Ukraine Way

Today’s JP A to Z is a bit of a mystery.  Ukraine Way is possibly the shortest through street in the city of Boston connecting Hyde Park Avenue to Washington Street just southwest of Forest Hills Station.  No one has a Ukraine Way address, because there are no buildings on Ukraine Way where people can live or work.  In fact most of the street is elevated over the railroad tracks.

Ukraine Way on a gloomy morning.

The mystery begins with a neighborhood map in the Forest Hills Station that indicates that Ukraine Way is an extension of Walk Hill Street (which would be confusing since it doesn’t actually connect with Walk Hill Street).  That map probably dates to 1987 when the new Forest Hills Station opened.  Sometime after 1987 the street was renamed after the European nation. I searched a database of Boston newspapers and the earliest reference to Ukraine Way is 1997, but no mention of when or why it got that name.

The map that says “Wall Hill St” where it should be “Ukraine Way.”

Of course, the most likely explanation is that the St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Church sits on a hill overlooking Forest Hills Station.  The street was probably renamed to honor the local Ukrainian-American community, as well eliminate any confusion over Walk Hill Street.


St. Andrew’s towers are a spiffy addition to the Forest Hills skyline.

A couple of years ago, during the height of the Crimean Crisis, I noticed that someone had decorated the street sign on Ukraine Way with two flags: one for Ukraine and one for the European Union.  In this way the little street in Jamaica Plain made a big geopolitical statement.  The flags are gone now, but I took a blurry photo from my phone.


Post for “U” in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

Click to see more “Blogging A to Z” posts.

Book Review: Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osbourne

Author: Mary Pope Osbourne
Title:  Monday with a Mad Genius
Publication Info: New York : Random House, c2007.

Jack & Annie are given the mission to spend the day in Renaissance Florence helping Leonardo Da Vinci.  It’s harder than it sounds but they’re persistent and participate in Leonardo’s science and art adventures, and even a little bit of magic and a mysterious smile.  A good story!

Rating: ***

Book Review: Stage Fright on a Summer Night by Mary Pope Osbourne

Author: Mary Pope Osbourne
TitleStage Fright on a Summer Night
Publication Info: New York : Random House, 2002.

This may be my favorite Magic Tree House story yet.  Jack & Annie travel to Elizabethan London and join Shakespeare on stage at the Globe Theatre where they learn the magic of theater.  There’s a lot of great touches like Annie’s sympathy for a bear used in bear baiting and Jack’s stage fright.

Rating: ***1/2

Book Review: Ghost Town at Sundown by Mary Pope Osborne

Author: Mary Pope Osborne
TitleGhost Town at Sundown
Publication Info: New York : Random House, c1997.

Jack & Annie go back to the Old West and visit a ghost town with real ghosts!  They also encounter some cattle rustlers and a kindly cowboy named Slim.  It’s a fun adventure with a riddle to solve.

Rating: ***