In Spring 2021 we welcomed the Mary Ellen Welch Memorial Garden at the Greenway entrance by Marginal Street. We are so happy to have this garden in the Greenway to remember and honor the legacy of Mary Ellen Welch.

We hope that old and new visitors will enjoy gathering in the area to remember and learn about Mary Ellen’s life while enjoying the different colors of the garden each season.

We believe that the memorial garden will continue the joyful and brave spirit of Mary Ellen into the community. 


We wanted the garden to be a cheerful and peaceful place to remember our friend and community member. Mary Ellen was so important for East Boston and for the creation of the Greenway and we want to celebrate her positive impact through this garden.

The memorial garden is located at the current beginning of the Greenway at Marginal Street and we expect it to become a landmark at the Greenway entrance for the Jeffries Point community. 

The garden is a simple design composed of a resting/gathering/contemplating space surrounded by herbaceous plants and bushes. The memorial garden design utilizes the location of an existing planting bed. In that sense, it looks to renovate the space to provide an area of calm that allows the visitors to sit down and contemplate in the new garden. It also aims to be a space for people to enjoy themselves while either sitting surrounded by plants of different heights and colors or by walking in a path between the flowers. 

The plant palette is composed of a balance of native and adapted species carefully selected to create a garden in constant change that includes different colors and textures. The project intends to remember Mary Ellen’s life with all the happy colors and diversity of experiences throughout the year. Below you can see a list of species appropriated for the Greenway and the list of species that we planted in the memorial garden. Additionally, we included a Rose of Sharon donated by Mary Ellen Welch’s niece to acknowledge her family lineage. 

Proposed plant palette
Memorial Garden plant list

Finally, within the contemplation space, the garden includes two green Adirondack chairs, Mary Ellen’s favorite color, to acknowledge her Irish heritage.

Memorial Garden Fall 2021


We started talking about the idea of a garden when we changed the name of the Greenway to Mary Ellen Welch Greenway. Its creation involved several Greenway Board and Council members and meetings with the City of Boston so now we can proudly enjoy our memorial garden. 

The landscape design started with the support of our board member James Kros and it was finished by Luli (María de la Luz) Lobos Martínez. Both of them shared their design concepts and plant palettes at the Greenway Council meetings so the design could be adapted considering the community’s suggestions. 

We had several meetings with Parks and Recreation Department staff to define the scope of the garden and get the design approved. We are grateful to the Parks and Recreation Department for funding the garden from its Fund for Parks and Recreation in Boston.

Project design plans through the seasons.


The design was implemented by community members and volunteers who spent the day together talking about Mary Ellen.

The week before planting day, we had Metro Management work with us to remove the weeds and amend the soil. We are so grateful for their support. Sal LaMattina also helped us by providing space to store the plants and moving them from the truck to the storage location.

On June 12, 2021, we had a full working day where we planted all the plants on-site following the previously traced areas. We had a lot of fun sharing with other community members and getting our hands in the dirt. We remembered anecdotes that we have lived with Mary Ellen Welch, got to know new neighbors, enjoyed gathering after so many months of covid related social distancing, and shared some pizza.

By the end of the planting day, the State representative Adrian Maddaro passed by and said “my aunt is smiling from the skies right now!” after looking at the garden. We certainly hope Mary Ellen is enjoying the garden and that you will get a chance to sit and take pleasure in the memorial garden.

We are especially grateful to Nat Taylor and Liz Mullard for watering the garden during its first months making sure that all the plant species settled down in their new home. 


Currently, we are in the process of creating signage for the garden so visitors can learn about Mary Ellen’s life. We are looking forward to putting the sign on the site.

Also, there is an ice cream shop coming to the area! The shop will be implemented inside of the blue caboose and will be owned by one of our neighbors. We are excited that we will have a place to enjoy some frozen goodies while enjoying a walk in the Greenway and the memorial garden views.  

If you visit, send us your pictures to or tag us on social media @eastiegreenway.


Luli (María de la Luz) Lobos Martínez has been our design and planning consultant since November 2019 and took over the project. She is an architect and landscape architect by profession having attended the Universidad de Chile in her hometown Santiago de Chile and the Harvard University Graduate School of Design in Cambridge, MA.

Additionally, she is the Mobility and Environmental Systems Analyst at LivableStreets Alliance and the project lead at the Gender and Mobility Initiative. You can check more of her work at her IG @mllobosmdesign.


New Murals Coming to the Greenway in September

The Friends hired HarborArts and The Pangeaseed Foundation to manage the replacement of two murals. Both will be located on the Greenway, on the underpass walls on the Parks Department Section of the Greenway.

Sea Walls Boston is an art event planned in collaboration between the PangeaSeed Foundation and HarborArts as part of Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans. The new Greenway murals will be part of a larger art effort in East Boston that will be completed between now and 2021. The two new Greenway murals will be painted with a purpose, to raise awareness about the importance of our oceans. The public artworks will serve as educational tools and conversation-starters about key issues affecting East Boston’s ocean, environment, and its people.

The new murals will be located on the Sumner and Porter St underpasses. This means that we will need to say goodbye to some of our current art pieces: the Train mural at the Sumner Street Bridge underpass and the ZUMIX mural at the Porter Street Bridge underpass. Both murals have lived a long life and will be remembered fondly. We will be documenting these murals with the help of HarborArts volunteers and local East Boston photographers to preserve and celebrate the memory of the artworks.

Current state of the murals that will be replaced

The murals should be installed in mid-September. We will post more information murals over the next few weeks.

Funding for the murals is from a grant to the Friends of Mary Ellen Welch Greenway from the Barr Foundation.

Sea Walls Boston is presented by Linda Cabot of Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs in partnership with the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway, Boston Harbor Now, the East Boston Foundation, East Boston Main Streets, Eastie Farm, Artists for Humanity, the Donald McKay School, and members of the East Boston community. The project is made possible by the Boston Parks Department, and the Boston Arts Council.

Poster for original event adapted because of COVID-19

RisingEMOTIONS in East Boston

In Fall 2019, the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway worked with artist Carolina Aragón from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning Department to install the art piece RisingEMOTIONS. This goal of this art piece was to:

  1. Engage residents around the issues of flooding due to sea level rise. 
  2. Connect residents about how to get involved to work on climate change issues in East Boston 
  3. Create an exciting and colorful art piece along the East Boston Greenway 
RisingEMOTIONS at the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library. Installed in November 2019 by many wonderful volunteers.

About the Art Piece

RisingEMOTIONS is a collaborative art project that displays projected flood levels and people’s emotions about sea-level rise in East Boston. The installation shows the elevation for the projected 1% annual chance flood for 2070 with colored ribbons. The colors represent people’s feelings and contain hand-written transcriptions of comments left by participants in an online survey. The online survey was developed with Computer Science assistant professor Narges Mahyar, and her doctoral student Mahmood Jasim.

Collecting Feelings

In November 2019, over 150 people responded to an online survey about their feelings related to the effects of sea level rise in East Boston. ( These responses were color-coded and the ribbons represent the feelings. Below are the questions we asked and chart with the responses.

A sample of responses from the survey about climate change and your feelings. (1 of 2)
A sample of responses from the survey about climate change and your feelings. (2 of 2)

Creating RisingEMOTIONS

Carolina Aragón and her team of students a UMass Amherst worked to test ideas and materials to create the art piece. The team determined that using fabric cut into strips would be best for the installation and hold up well to the winter elements.  65 yards of fabric were cut into 250 stips and then there was a loop sewn onto each strip to be able to attach to the metal structure. 

The UMass team worked with Excel Academy students to distribute the online survey, and engaged  East Boston residents at the East Boston Library over two Saturdays to transcribe by hand the responses collected on the online survey onto the fabric ribbons and to install the art piece.  

Community Celebration 

On Saturday, December 7th the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway and the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library hosted an opening and community celebration.  At this event, we had several speakers who talked about the art piece, climate change science, and how to get involved. Speakers included State Representatives Sen. Adrian Madero and Sen. Joe Boncore, and climate scientists Dr. Paul Kirshen and Chris Watson from UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab.

Project Team

Carolina Aragon in collaboration with Narges Mahyar,and their UMass Amherst students: Mahmood Jasim, Claudia Lafontaine, Amanda Welch, Nigel Cummings, Ted Duffy, Joyia Smikle, Zoe Kearney, Lyla Fitch, Philip Chen, Brooklyn Feng, Christopher Liu.

RisingEMOTIONS is funded by a Barr Foundation grant to the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway, and was supported by the following organizations:

  • Boston Planning & Development Agency
  • City of Boston Environment Department
  • East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library
  • Excel Academy
  • Harborkeepers
  • GreenRoots
  •  Boston Society of Landscape Architects
  • UMass Boston Sustainable Solutions Lab
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, Landscape Architecture & Regional Planning Department 
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst, College of Information and Computer Sciences

The project was funded by a Barr Foundation grant to the Friends of the Mary Ellen Welch Greenway and developed in close collaboration with the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, Excel Academy, the East Boston Branch of the Boston Public Library and East Boston residents.

Colorful Improvements at the Gove Street Greenway Crossing

By Nat Taylor

Residents are welcoming bright new improvements to the Gove Street crossing of the East Boston Greenway.  On Monday morning the kids were delighted to see the colorful design and mini-library on the way to school. “The paint is a hit,” said Stephanie Weyer, on of the project’s designers from Toole Design, “and the community’s reaction has been incredibly positive, far beyond what we could have imagined.” 

As volunteers installed everything on Friday and Saturday, kids gleefully skipped and biked between new colorful painted shapes on the pathway.  Many passers-by expressed excitement about the changes. “I think it’s great to see some new life brought to the space,” said one resident who was crossing the Greenway to get back home after running errands.

By the next morning, folks were already taking advantage of the newly installed benches.  A conference-goer staying at a nearby hotel stopped to drink his coffee and not long after a mother and her toddler explored the contents of the free library.  Meanwhile runners, walkers and bikers alike stopped to survey the scene, many turning to their smartphones to snap a few pictures.

A reader enjoys the free library (NAT TAYLOR)

The project was sparked by a Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) design contest in partnership with the Friends of the East Boston Greenway (FoEBG.) 

Known as ‘placemaking’ work, this project is the continuation of a community-based open space planning initiative created by the Friends of the East Boston Greenway, East Boston’s long-serving Greenway advocacy group.  Funded by the Barr Foundation, as part of their Waterfront Partners Initiative, which seeks to engage Boston residents and as well as local civic and non-profit organizations in creating inclusive and vibrant open spaces along Boston’s harbor.  Through this funding, over the past 18 months, the Friends group has offered a variety of new programming, such as an adult tricycle program, farmers markets, musical performances, and decoration and lighting projects.  

As part of this ongoing effort, the Friends group developed a partnership with the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BLSA).  Thanks to the BSLA, it’s Board of Directors, and Executive Director Gretchen Rabinkin, this year’s Design Challenge -an annual open call to urban planners, designers and landscape architects to submit concept plans which address existing design issues in creative ways- to a panel of judges was implemented in East Boston and focused on the storm water flooding along the Greenway near the Gove Street Crossing.  Toole Design was selected by a jury of residents as the winner from nine submissions to the Design Challenge.  The Toole Design team was led by landscape architects Stephanie Weyer, PLA and Karen Fitzgerald, PLA who engaged residents at neighborhood association meetings, the Greenway Council meetings, dialog with passers-by on the Greenway and kids at the East Boston Public Library during the design process.

Residents give feedback on the concept (STEPHANIE WEYER)

Toole Design named its proposed design concept TIES, signifying the community bonds that enliven the neighborhood. The design of the space is meant to support social activity, the exchange of ideas, and recognition of the spirit of East Boston residents.

The Friends of the East Boston Greenway along with several key East Boston resident leaders assisted with the outreach and project implementation.

Although planning for this event began much earlier, installation took place over two days in mid-June. The painting team included several neighborhood kids who volunteered to come help, after arriving by happenstance during the cleanup and prep work the day before.  They worked alongside other residents, young and old.

Volunteers adding finishing touches (NAT TAYLOR)

Many residents were surprised to learn of the storied history of the crossing.  In the 1970s, neighborhood advocates led by the late Gina Scalcione, successfully lobbied for construction of the current footpath to replace the demolished pedestrian bridge.  The group went on to form what became the still-active Gove Street Neighborhood Association.

In the future, the space could see further improvements including new lighting, more plantings, more seating, and so on.  More planning efforts will need to happen with residents, together with the Boston Transportation Department (BTD) for changes to the street and Boston Parks and Recreation Department for changes to the Greenway.  The Friends group is looking forward to continuing this ongoing effort with future expansions of place-making programs- such as musical performances, art and historical exhibits, farmer’s markets and other ideas to activate East Boston’s open spaces and help them better serve the needs of our neighborhoods.

This week the section of Gove Street between Orleans Street and the Greenway will be also turned into a week-long “pop-up” with some community events including children’s activities and music, provided by Friends of the East Boston Greenway. The latest schedule is available on the FoEBG Facebook page at (Children’s activities in the afternoon on Tues 6/18 and Wed 6/19 and Music on Fri 6/21 5-7 and Sat 6/22 5-9.)

About the BSLA

Founding in 1913 as the American Society of Landscape Architect’s first chapter, the Boston Society of Landscape Architects, has grown since then to become one of the society’s largest chapters.  The BSLA and its priorities are focused on supporting the success of its member landscape architects and its supporters. This is accomplished with an extensive and innovative series of member benefits, focused career and skill development opportunities, a nationally renowned Awards program, the largest Scholarship Program of any Chapter, and of course as many special events as can be scheduled!

About the FoEBG

The East Boston Greenway is a recreational open space in East Boston that runs from the historic Jeffries Point Waterfront through the neighborhood towards Constitution beach and beyond. Residents of all ages use it running, jogging, walking, biking, or just strolling while taking in the historic and ecological beauty of various points along its length. Though the Greenway is in part owned by the city of Boston and in part by Massport, the Friends of East Boston Greenway, an organization of residents, stewards its use and serves as the stewardship body.

Remembering Mary Ellen

Mary Ellen Welch among other leaders who have worked over decades to make the East Boston Greenway a reality

When we lost Mary Ellen on March 7, 2019, we lost a dear friend and neighbor, a community leader, a wise advisor and passionate advocate for social and environmental justice, a devoted daughter of East Boston and a proud Bostonian. A school teacher for decades in East Boston, Mary Ellen was a born teacher, helping us all to learn, to advocate and to demonstrate for a more just world for everyone. How generous she was with her encouragement, how gentle she was with her correction! We all learned from her, and those lessons are now part of us.

Mary Ellen was one of a small group of East Boston residents who believed the trash filled, abandoned freight tracks could become a welcoming, safe Greenway that would remove years of contamination in the midst of the neighborhood. The Greenway would become a beautiful green space for children to ride their bikes, seniors to stroll and residents to make connections through and across the neighborhood. She was sure East Boston would rally to the Greenway. “Oh, yes, they will love it!” she replied about the farfetched idea in 1990. And she was so right.

Now, we invite you to join us to in continuing to enhance the Greenway along the path that Mary Ellen led. We also wish to create a special location along the Greenway by way of honoring Mary Ellen’s vision, her compassion and her faith that East Boston deserved this new parkland connecting East Boston’s harbor, beaches, parks and marshes. Please help us honor Mary Ellen by helping us continue her work and to create a beautiful special site for all to enjoy and remember. We appreciate gifts of all sizes.

Ways of contributing to the Friends of East Boston Greenway are available on the contribute page of the website:

BSLA Design Challenge Entries

The BSLA Design Challenge for the Gove Street Intersection of East Boston Greenway has resulted in some great entries. We, the Friends of East Boston Greenway, are curious about what you, the people of East Boston, think about the various elements in these entries. Let us know what you think by responding to this post or writing to We are not expecting your votes on the individual entries or any ranking. We are curious about which elements of the entries you are drawn to, and which ones you think are appropriate for the Greenway, which suit and/or enhance the uses of the Greenway you are familiar with and appreciate.

BSLA and Friends of East Boston Greenway would like to thank the participants (including landscape architects and designers) who generously gave of their time and talent to create these innovative and beautiful designs.

#10: (en)gauging the Water
Team: Keihly Moore, Thu Ngan Han
#20: East Boston Greenway + Gove Street Park
Team TL Studio Inc.: Tom Lee, Masha Hranjec-Johnson, Dennis Staton
#30: Fill The Gap
Team Stantec: Grace Ng, ASLA, RLA, Genevieve Shephard, Kevin Beuttell, RLA
#40: A New Front Yard
Team UMass LARP: Jessica Schoendorf
#50: The Living Room
Team CRJA-IBI: Andrea Fossa, Kristina Stevens, Siyu Xiao, Carl Frushour, Catherine Offenberg
#60: Streamway
Team: Qian Fischer
#70: Ties
Team Toole Design: Stephanie Weyer, Karen Fitzgerald, Lydia Hausle, William Huang
#80: Waiting to Launch
Team Kyle Zick: Rob Barella, Mike Doucette, Yong Jae Lee, Emily Sanchez, Tracy Hudak, Danielle D. Desilets, Kyle Zick
#90: History Through Water
Team CB2: Connor Byrne, Chris Brown

Mary Ellen Welch

East Boston’s Mary Ellen Welch in her home overlooking Boston Harbor

In her own words, here is a glimpse into the mettle Mary Ellen was made of. The interview was done as part of Media for Movement, a collaboration of Zumix and MIT CoLabs. — Kannan

Youth and Climate Advocacy

The climate art installation on East Boston Greenway   FutureWaters|AguasFuturas is getting noticed by the most important section of the population it is meant for: our youth. One of them (Varshini Prakash of Sunrise Movement who lives in East Boston) was able to draw the attention of a member of the United States Congress with her picture to our climate vulnerability.

Americorps service member Lanika Sanders with Boston Latin Academy students
Young residents of Eastie enjoying the installation (“We are happy to see this beautiful installation but terrified by what it signifies.”)
Varshini Prakash (Sunrise Movement) reads the description of the installation regarding anticipated flood levels.

Varshini (from Sunrise Movement) tweeted her picture under the installation to Congresswoman-elect Ayanna Pressley, saying she would drown at this level of water, and asking Pressley to take a specific action. Here is the tweet and the response from Pressley.

Varshini’s tweet:

Pressley’s response:

One BLA student asked several critical questions about the  installation:

  • Where did we get the data?
  • How much of the anticipated level is due to storm surge vs. high tide vs. sea level rise?
  • Given that, how bad would it be without the storm surge?

(We will be posting the details in an FAQ.)

Incidentally, through his questions, he helped us realize our problems will grow more and more significant even without the storm surge, merely from the sea level rise and high tide.

FutureWATERS|AGUASfuturas on the Greenway

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Eastie Farm Americorps service member Lanika Sanders measures herself against 2070 flood levels

Do you think you can walk along the Greenway in 2070? What about 2030?

If you are wondering why we are asking this question, go check out FutureWATERS|AGUASfuturas, the bold and beautiful installation that brings art and science together on the East Boston Greenway asap, showing two anticipated flood levels, the 2030 and the 2070. Without any additional efforts, this will be our reality.

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The blue balls change color with temperature. There are also dynamic elements of the art (motion sensitive illumination in the dark).
Climate Change and its consequences are a significant threat for the young.

The blue balls that you see mounted on the chicken wire mesh change color with temperature, and serve as a visual reminder of the already occurring erratic weather patterns and warming trend that can be attributed to climate destabilization.

Viewed from the Sumner Street overpass

The installation is interactive. Motion sensors trigger battery (solar powered) operated wavy illumination.

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FutureWATERS|AGUASfuturas is located at the Marginal Street end of the East Boston Greenway, easily accessible by walk from Maverick Station on the MBTA blue line. The display will be up until the first week of December 2018.

FutureWATERS|AGUASfuturas was designed by Carolina Aragon, Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Massachusetts. The data to determine the anticipated water levels was supplied by the Woodshole Group, UMass Boston SSL (Sustainable Solutions Lab), and UMass Boston School of Environment. Gretchen Robinkin of Boston Society of Landscape Architecture coordinated and supported the process from conception to implementation. The design, material, and installation costs are paid for by the Friends of East Boston Greenway, from the Barr Foundation‘s Waterfront Partnership program grant.

Carolina Aragon is the brain behind FutureWATERS|AGUASfuturas (Photo credit: Rudi Seitz)

Several members of the East Boston community were involved in making and installing the art.

Members of the community have been stopping by and observing the installation day and night. One resident remarked, “This is shocking. I’d like to know what we can do about it.”

Eagle Hill resident expresses shock after observing the art and reading the explanation. “This is shocking!”
The Eastie for Eastie team working on Managed Retreat (a proactive plan for dealing with unlivable waterfront areas) observing the anticipated 2030 flood levels.

Who’s making waves on the Greenway?


Listen to it. What or who is making this sound on the Greenway?

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April 2017 picture of flooding in the Greenway that put the city section of the Greenway out of commission

Remember back in 2017, when the East Boston Greenway got so flooded, it couldn’t be used at all? And people made jokes about how it was becoming a duck pond? It was about to happen all over again, but thanks to the timely intervention and work of some caring young people (all Friends of the East Boston Greenway), plus a little bit of luck, most of you didn’t even know that we were about to have a major problem 🙂

It all started with three young East Boston folks, who were working on the Greenway all Summer as the Trustees Youth Conservation Corps, asking Chief Cook (on Sept 13) to join them for a walk on the Greenway, so they can express their concerns and aspirations on site. He agreed.


Sept 13, 2018: Young folks from East Boston part of the Youth Conservation Corps meet with Chief Cook and request a walk along the Greenway to share their concerns about the space

Next, as the Friends of East Boston Greenway have been doing for several days now, we gathered on Oct 13, 2018 at 3pm. It had been raining all morning, so it wasn’t an active day. Some of us (Gabriela, Skye, Lanika, and Kannan) decided to walk the Greenway and observe the impacts of the rain that day. We saw  some things we expected to see: a few puddles, some erosion, nothing major.

Then we saw a few things we were not expecting to see:

  1. A woman living in the building alongside the Greenway on Maverick was throwing dirty water on the Greenway.


    “Sewer backup!” Resident throwing water out the window on to the Greenway!
  2. Felix, who lives along the Greenway near Maverick, stopped us to say the drainage pump near Maverick was making some strange noises, and, in his words, “was ready to blow.”


    Greenway neighbor providing useful information about draining pump in disrepair

  3. We listened to the noise. Whoosh…. Whooosh… Whoosh.. The drainage pump was clearly trying to drain, but failing. We understood from Felix that he had raised a 3-1-1 case but he was not confident that he did it correctly. So Gabriela and Skye both reported the observation via 3-1-1.

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On Oct 18, the YCC youth, as planned, walked the Greenway with Chief Cook. Had a lot to share with Chief Cook, the most important one being the whooshing pump of Maverick Street. Chief Cook paused, then said “You have my undivided attention. The sound from the motor was abnormal enough. It needed action.

And action came promptly. The work continued until the pump was fixed on Oct 26th.

And then, on Oct 27th, the remains of Hurricane Willa came to New England, in the form of a Nor’easter. It poured and poured. And the motor drained and drained. A puddle here and a puddle there, but the Greenway was still usable.

Many people walked, ran, and biked along the Greenway on the 28th as if nothing had gone wrong. And that’s how we like it.

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P.S.: We still have some work to do. We’d like to encourage the people living in Greenway Apartments to call 3-1-1 when they see a drainage issue. (We have reached out to them and are looking forward to an opportunity to meet with them to provide some simple education on 3-1-1) We’d like to understand better if and how their issue is connected to the pump draining water from the Greenway. To that end, we’re reaching out to Boston Parks Department as well as Boston Water and Sewer Commission.