Upcoming Lecture Recalls History of Public Garden’s Swan Boats

By Dan Murphy

As an upcoming lecture sponsored by the Friends of the Public Garden will attest, the Swan Boats have become inextricably linked to the park during their 139-year history.

“You will see evolution of boats since the late 19th century and the evolution of the Garden,” said Liz Vizza, executive director of the Friends group. “It’s impossible to conjure up the Public Garden without the image of the Swan Boats, and it’s impossible to separate the icon of Swan Boats from the icon of the Public Garden.”

Lyn Paget, the fourth-generation manager of the Swan Boats operation, will be on hand at Suffolk University Law School on Thursday, March 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. for “Swan Boats of the Public Garden: Pedaling Through Time in America’s First Public Garden.” During the lecture, she will share personal anecdotes and historical images dating back to 1877, when her great-grandfather Robert Paget first launched the dual-pontoon boats in the Public Garden and a rich chapter of the Boston’s history began.

One segment of the program will use photos to illustrate the construction of the fleet of six catamarans each April, marking the beginning of the new Swan Boats season.

“The boats have to be assembled in the Public Garden every spring, and it’s a process that takes weeks,” Lyn Paget said. “It’s something that people don’t ordinarily think about, so they really like to hear about that piece of the operation.”

Ultimately, she hopes the lecture will underscore not only that the Swan Boats are the only vessels of their kind in the world, but also how unique the experience of riding in one is to Boston.

“At times on the boat, you can’t even see a building, only the beauty of the botanical garden,” Liz Paget said. “It’s an amazing environment that’s really peaceful and yet you’re sitting in the middle of the city.”

Admission for the lecture is $15 per person, and a “cheese-and-cracker” reception will follow the presentation. Visit www.friendsofthepublicgarden.org to purchase tickets or for more information.

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