The corner of Park and Tremont Streets is the crossroads of the city, where thousands pass through daily, visiting the State House, taking the T, or just soaking up America’s first public park, the aptly-named Boston Common. But until recently it was no place to linger for all but the toughest characters. The area around the Park Street MBTA station had become known for petty crime, drugs, and homelessness. A special committee of the Boston City Council in 2008 used words like “ill-conceived” and “poorly maintained” to describe visitor facilities, and bluntly called the defunct Brewer Fountain nearby “an eyesore.” It was an area “people shunned because it wasn’t a comfortable place to be in,” said Elizabeth Vizza, director of the nonprofit Friends of the Public Garden.
Jarred by a curfew Boston police imposed on the Common to reduce crime in 2007, the Friends and the city Parks and Recreation Department got to work reclaiming this key part of Boston’s urban fabric. The city secured a $200,000 preservation grant to restore the 1855 bronze fountain, dry since 2003, to its gushy glory. The Friends improved landscaping and lighting, and removed cement barriers that made the area look like an armed camp.