City Square, Charlestown

City Square

Landscape design: Halvorson Design Partnership, 1996

From the seventeenth century until well into the twentieth century, City Square was the center of Charlestown commerce and government. None of the early structures survive, but the digging of the harbor tunnel in 1991 uncovered remains of John Winthrop's 1630 Great House. It was the settlers’ meeting hall and the temporary residence for more than a dozen of them before they decided to move with Winthrop across the Charles River to the Shawmut Peninsula - which would become Boston.

Centered on a fountain, the graceful City Square restores the historic heart of Charlestown that was too long a traffic nightmare. Historic and iconic elements are deftly integrated into a peaceful composition that works beautifully from every perspective. Sculptural motifs by David Phillips include: rope, evoking the naval history; maize, the native American staple; a cod, the iconic local fish; and the crane recalling the pre-Revolutionary Three Cranes Tavern. Each gateway to the square has portraits of famous Charlestown citizens.