By Beth Treffeisen
TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking site announced last week the winners of its Traveler’s Choice awards for Landmarks, with Fenway Park pegged at 13 out of 25 sites in the country.
The Golden Gate Bridge came in first, followed by the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. and then Alcatraz Island in San Francisco.
Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for landmarks worldwide, gathered over a 12-month period. The awards honor 706 landmarks in 82 countries.
“These iconic sites are cultural and historical touchstones for visitors across the globe,” said Barbara Messing, the chief of marketing officer of TripAdvisor in a statement. “Summer is the perfect time for travelers to plan a visit to one of these landmarks.”
To learn why Fenway Park is a popular destination for tourists and New Englander’s alike, The Boston Sun talked to Red Sox Historian Gordon Edes.
“Fenway Park has been a huge part of the fabric of New England for generations,” said Edes.
He said there is so much history rooted in the place that it is easy to share memories from grandfather to grandson or from father to son as they walk through the park.
“I’m titled the Historian but I often refer to myself as the ghost whisperer,” said Edes. “There are ghosts here – that’s one of the things that draws people here.”
Built in 1912, Fenway Park is the oldest Major League Baseball ballpark in the country. During the 100th anniversary year, 2012, Fenway Park was designated a historical site.
According to Edes, Fenway Park is unique because it was built to be uniform with the dimensions of the neighborhood. The field can only go so far until it reaches existing streets such as Lansdowne St. and Brookline Ave., which gives the park the asymmetrical shape.
The park also has the shortest distance of any field in baseball.
“The interesting thing about the ballpark is that there are very few places where the fans can be so close to the action and feel like they are a part of it,” said Edes. “If you are sitting in the first couple of rows you are closer to the guy on home plate than the guy who is standing on the pitchers mound.”
Edes said that Fenway Park in Boston is the equivalent to the Eiffel Tower in France or the Washington Monument in D.C. He said there are no other destinations where you can see the Green Monster, the 37-foot high left field wall – a popular target for right-handed hitters.
Recently, Edes said that the owners of Fenway Park have invested $300 million into improvements in the park including a new video board, upgrades to the Grandstand bar, and the replacement of the bullpen field wall with a new removable wall.
“But it’s always in the mind to preserve the site,” said Edes. “They don’t want to lose the character of the place.”
Edes said that over the last 25 years 20 new ballparks have been built. But rooted in the game’s inspiration, he said, are Fenway Park and Wrigley Field, the second oldest ballpark in the country.
He said although the newer parks are multi-purpose fields many fans miss the old intimate feeling of the older parks.
“What separates Fenway from any place else (where I am sure you can have a great experience at some of these newer parks no question) but you can’t manufacture history,” said Edes.
Edes said nothing beats walking up to Fenway Park and seeing the old brick façade that is embedded into the New England spirit like needlepoint.
He pointed to what singer Bruce Springsteen once said during a performance at the park, “There aren’t many places where you can feel the soul of the city but Fenway is part of that.”
Edes said, “When you enter Fenway Park you immediately say, ‘Yeah, this is our city!’”