In 2004 the Conservancy, in collaboration with Revels, began the annual celebration RiverSing as a way to build community in the Parklands through an artistic and musical celebration that is free and accessible to all. Now part of Revels’ seasonal calendar, RiverSing attracts several thousand people from Boston, Cambridge, and nearby communities each fall to enjoy Boston area choruses and join in participatory singing across the river.
On a Sunday evening in September, RiverSing participants (including many families and children) gather on the shore near the Weeks Footbridge and sing familiar songs. The event concludes with bell ringing and celebratory dancing as the crowd is invited to welcome autumn to the banks of the beautiful Charles River.
Each year, we have tried to add a little more magic to this very special event. At the end of RiverSing 2008, two separate “Moon” and “Sun” boats, bearing saxophonists Stan Strickland and Ken Field, floated downriver toward the singers on the bridge. The saxophonists’ antiphonal playing—combined with the spectacle of the two decorated and illuminated boats quietly floating and circling each other—created a magnificent finale as darkness began to fall on the Parklands.
The 18-mile paved (for the most part) path, which stretches along both sides of the Charles River from the Watertown Dam to the Museum of Science and below, is used by as many as 20,000 people a day in good weather.
Thanks to a successful public-private partnership, the Conservancy helped drive a fundraising campaign to repave especially hazardous pathways along the south shore at the Brighton-Newton border. The Conservancy raised $22,000 from bicyclists, park enthusiasts, and foundations. In addition, the Solomon Fund contributed $25,000. With a match from the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs and an extra contribution by DCR, work in excess of $100,000 was completed.
The Conservancy also works with other advocates and organizations to improve access, ease congestion, and ensure safety and maintenance of the Parklands for the sake of bicycles and pedestrians.
- Read our Charles River Pathways Report (2006) for analysis and recommendations for the south shore of the Charles River pathway.
- The Conservancy’s Dudley White Pathway Project Report (2003) offers suggestions for pathway improvements ranging from revisions in timing of traffic lights to depressing Soldiers Field Road.
Since 2004 the Charles River Conservancy has worked to install permanent lighting on four of the Charles River bridges: the Weeks Footbridge, Anderson Bridge, Western Avenue Bridge, and River Street Bridge.
These bridge illuminations both beautify and draw attention to the architectural treasures that connect Boston and Cambridge.
In 2008, the Conservancy worked with light designer John Powell, of Light Time in Space, Inc., and with Luminus, Inc., a firm that makes high-quality LED lights, to illuminate the arches under the Weeks Footbridge. Placed just above water level, the new installation highlights the once-shadowy underbelly of the bridge. Usually bright white, the lights can also be changed to vibrant colors, as they were during the annual RiverSing event in 2008 when the Weeks Footbridge was the “main stage” (see photo above).
We’re grateful for the Department of Conservation and Recreation's support in the permitting process and for their ongoing lighting maintenance.