The Swan Boats
Commonwealth Avenue & Arlington Street, Boston, MA, USA
www.swanboats.com - (617) 522-1966
The Swan Boats Boston Reviews
Relaxing boat ride in the heart of Boston May 22, 2012
A part of Boston’s Public Garden since the 1877, a ride on the Swan Boats is a relaxing break from touring the city. I took my first one during a visit in 2009 and now it's become an annual summer event for my friends and I.
During the Victorian era, rowing a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon was a favorite summer activity for city residents. Robert Paget created a new boat for such an activity - a foot-propelled, 8-passenger catamaran - and was granted a “boat for hire” license by the city. Robert died one year after launching the first Swan Boats, and his widow Julia took over the business. She carried on through the early 1900’s, despite needing other (male) business owners to testify to her (female) ability to run a business, until her youngest son John took over in 1914. Over the years both the size of the boats and their number has grown as the Paget family continues to carry on the tradition of boating in the Public Garden.
For those of you wondering about the swan motif, it was inspired by the opera Lohengrin, in which Lohengrin crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan. It also served the practical purposes of covering the captain.
Each boat seats up to 18 adults and is powered by the attendant pedaling away in the back. (Yes, these not exactly small boats are run strictly on “pedal power.”) A 15-minute ride costs $2.75 for adults, $2 for seniors, and $1.50 for kids 2-15. Please note that the boats do not operate when it’s rainy, windy or extremely hot.
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