Spectacle Island



The ferry pulled into the dock and we scurried onto the island. We had one hour to explore as much of a 105 acre island as possible. We started with a trail that began at the Spectacle Island Visitor’s Center and followed it up 157 feet to the tallest point of the island. We could see the entire Boston Harbor, ships and all. At the top of the hill, two people were standing very close to each other. One was a young woman. Her eyes were locked on the sky above her and her fingers held tightly to a thin string. A young man stood behind her, his gaze also steady on the sky above. A gust of wind whipped their jackets behind them but their attention didn’t waver. Their kite had been flying for nearly ten minutes and they weren’t about to let it fall. We watched the couple and their kite for several inspiring moments before heading back down the hill and toward the southern end of the island.

Reaching the beach, we found chunks of old red brick buried in the sand and smooth green glass from old beer bottles, remnants from the garbage dump. It wasn’t until we stepped on an old broken ceramic plate that we realized that there were treasures hidden under the driftwood and sand. Some pieces of ceramic had red and blue stamps illustrating young women in early colonial fashions cooking food on wood burning ovens. The bottoms of the shards were etched with turn of the century “Made in Boston” labels. We lingered as long as possible turning over bits of bowls and examining pieces of glass that had long lost their sharp edges. Eventually, the ferry pulled into the dock and we left our findings, but not before we set them out in the open for others to admire.

Spectacle Island has played host to several ventures throughout the years, including a farm, a quarantine hospital, a resort, a glue factory and a garbage dump. After Boston’s city planners decided to reroute the entire road system and transform a major above-ground freeway into an underground tunnel, Spectacle Island became the best place to unload the dirt that would be dug up. It wasn’t long after the dirt had been added that officials got the idea to turn the area into a nature park.

Now, Spectacle Island offers a wide array of activities during the Spring and Summer months. Walk the five miles of trails around the island. Take in breathtaking views of Boston Harbor. Comb through thousands of pieces of ceramic and glass from centuries-old dinnerware. Hop in a kayak or go swimming. The only way to reach the island is by boat; therefore, the majority of visits are restricted to the ferry schedule. The first shuttle leaves at nine in the morning and the last call at the end of the day is at five.