Brookline Walking Map

Brookline Walking Map

Brookline: Secret stairways & paths Three hills in Brookline – Corey, Aspinwall and Fisher Hills – have innovative designs for pedestrians. These glaciated hills, separated by small streams, were the scene of rapid development following the construction of the Beacon Street Boulevard.

In 1887 Frederick Law Olmsted’s design led to widening Beacon Street from 50 to 160 feet. Threading between the hills, the new boulevard gave such easy access to Boston that mansions were built for wealthy families. On this stylish street, apartment hotels were added, each with a distinct, clubby atmosphere. Clusters of town houses fronted the new streets in the area. The hills were transformed.

Corey Hill was reshaped in 1890. Three parallel streets, called “terraces,” followed the contours of the hill, one above the other. A radical feature was added—a walkway perpendicular to the hill’s contours—from the top of the hill to the streetcar line below. So steep was the hill that the walkway was a series of steps.

At Aspinwall Hill, Olmsted, hired to design roadways, included a public path to Beacon Street. He was fired for ignoring property lines and maximizing the use of natural contours of the land. A more politically astute designer modified and negotiated public paths along property lines.

Fisher Hill benefited from the full talents of Olmsted, hired in 1890 to design the layout and overall development following the natural topography. Many homes built between 1890 and 1920 on large Olmsted lots remain. A path [now lost] led down the hill to the rail station at Beaconsfield.

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