This site is dedicated to providing information about Magazine Beach Park in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Magazine Beach is a fifteen-acre public park on the banks of the Charles River, featuring a granite Powder Magazine built in 1818. The park is at the foot of Magazine Street and Memorial Drive, across from Micro Center Plaza.
The Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association is working with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation to revitalize the park and to restore it as a place of beauty.
Case Statement for Magazine Beach Park Revitalization Efforts
At fifteen acres, Magazine Beach is Cambridge’s 2nd largest park. It is centrally located along the Charles River between the BU Bridge and the Riverside Boat Club. It has been designated as a destination by both the Mass. Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR) and the City of Cambridge’s Riverfront plans, yet it has broken picnic tables, benches, and wading pool, sunken pavement, a wall of vegetation blocking river access and a vacant granite-block focal point—the 1818 powder house, the oldest building on the Charles River.
The Magazine Beach Committee of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association (CNA) is dedicated to working with DCR and the City of Cambridge to improve this park, with the goal of it becoming a vital, green, open space resource for Cambridge and the Greater Boston metropolitan area. We want it to be a welcoming place, offering everyone access to the sky, to the river, to nature and to community.
The Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association, in partnership with the Riverside Boat Club and the Charles River Conservancy, has been working with DCR at Magazine Beach since our first cleanup there in November of 2010. Since then we have raised over $500k from the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts (DCR), individuals, foundations and businesses to:
- study the 1818 powder magazine—the oldest structure on the Charles River
- stabilize the powder magazine
- sponsor programs at the park
- complete landscape plans for the western part of the park.
We have also obtained the commitment of DCR to revise the park’s vegetation plan to replace the invasive plants that block views from the park to the river. We have organized four exhibitions, produced four films, published a history of the site, held three fundraisers, created three full summers of activity at the park, maintained a website with almost 73,000 hits to date (magazinebeach.org), and advocated for the park by giving testimony, writing letters, and meeting with local and State leaders. Thanks to the leadership of Senator Anthony Petruccelli and Rep. Jay Livingstone, the powder magazine was added to DCR’s Historic Curatorship Program in 2014. Its designation will allow a third party to lease the building for an extended period in exchange for converting it to its next use. (Since then, DCR has decided that it might use a different vehicle to lease out the building since we have already invested so much money into it.) Finally, in 2015, DCR made a commitment to replacing the park’s broken wading pool with a new spray deck.
The Magazine Beach Committee members all volunteer their time to this effort. They commit their professional skills in project management, design, writing, editing, photography, fundraising and strategic planning towards the goal of creating a nicer park.
Where We Are Today
Park Design: At the Committee’s urging, in the fall of 2014 DCR and the City of Cambridge committed $56.5k each to update and complete existing landscape plans for the western part of the park. DCR opened the public process regarding park design in early 2015. We hope to have a final design and bid documents by the end of 2016 and to see the park’s renovation implemented in 2018. DCR estimates that the project will cost $4 million.
The Committee’s goals for the final design include:
- water and play features for children
- picnic areas with cooking grills, tables and benches
- public bathrooms
- park entrances with information kiosks
- bike racks and bicycle and pedestrian paths linking the park and the powder magazine to a network of riverfront paths
- lookouts and a dock, engaging visitors with the river
- a grassy beach between the swimming pool and river and
- the removal of some of the “wall of vegetation” that blocks river views.
The Magazine Beach Committee of the CNA, which is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization, is now raising funds to support these park features.
Please donate now to maintain the momentum we have established with local officials and our elected representatives.
The Powder Magazine: DCR has just finished the stabilization of the building exterior–adding a new roof, windows and doors; repointing the masonry; and adding security lighting. Pending funding, they will complete interior renovations by 2018. DCR is beginning to seek a tenant for the granite-block building that is the focal point for the park. To see responses to DCR’s 2015 Request for Expressions of Interest (RFEI) in the property, click here. Want to be the building’s tenant? Contact: HCP.Requests@state.ma.us. Click here, for the Magazine Beach Committee’s Curatorship Principles & Recommended Uses for the Powder Magazine. For further information about park revitalization efforts, go to magazinebeach.org.
- Organizing Institution: the Magazine Beach Committee of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association, Inc. (a tax exempt, 501c3 non-profit)
- Administrators of the Park: the Mass. Department of Conservation & Recreation
- Estimated Cost to make improvements: $4 million
- Proposed Improvements: new water and play features for children, picnic tables, benches, grills, bike rack, info kiosk, new paths, public bathrooms and landscaping.
- Contact Information: Cathie Zusy, Chair, Magazine Beach Committee of the Cambridgeport Neighborhood Association, 617-868-0489, or mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.