Arts & Culture Community Real Estate

What Type of Public Art Should Go in North Square?

Rendering of North Square reconstruction slated for 2017. As part of the project, 10% of funds will go toward a public art installation. City officials are asking residents for feedback on what type of art they would like to see in North Square. (Image: Boston Public Works)

Boston Public Works and the Boston Art Commission recently held a meeting regarding a public art project designated for North Square. The main speaker was Karin Goodfellow, Director of the Boston Art Commission with Ms. Christian Guerra, Collection Coordinator, and DPW’s Asst. Civil Engineer Joseph Fleury. Also in attendence was Allison Perlman from Parks & Recreation as the Project Manager for the adjacent Rachel Revere Park. Approximately a dozen area residents attended.

The main purpose of the meeting was to announce that Mayor Walsh has earmarked 10% of the North Square’s $2mm construction budget ($200k) for a yet to be determined permanent, public art installation. 

North End residents are being asked for their input and suggestions as to what type of artwork they would like to see in North Square. Suggestions at the meeting included art that might reflect the historical importance of the Square, referencing statues in the Prado and Faneuil Hall as examples.  Other comments included incorporating a nautical theme, a shade pergola, sculpture benches, artistic landscaping and/or a fountain.  DPW’s Fleury noted that a fountain was extremely unlikely due to maintenance requirements that Public Works was unable and/or unwilling to provide.

North Square’s renovation plan calls for construction to begin Spring/Summer 2017 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2017.  However, DPW acknowledged that the schedule could be delayed depending on the design and installation components of whatever public art is eventually chosen for the space.

Goodfellow did not give a specific timeline for how long the RFP process will take, but gave assurances that the selected artist would be required to work closely with the landscape architect in coming up with an acceptable concept for the Square. Perlman said that the $350k renovation of Rachel Revere Park would likely be completed before construction in the Square began.

In advance of a Call for Artists, North End residents are encouraged to provide ideas and feedback. Readers can use the comment section below and/or email

9 Replies to “What Type of Public Art Should Go in North Square?

  1. Something for the kids of the north end. Like something they can crawl on or under or play around. Physical art

  2. Walking over the bridge to Charlestown you will come to a beautiful little park. I never walk through this park without stopping to admire the sculptures of what I believe to be Cod Fish and the fountain is a work of art. My young grandchildren were also drawn to and always stopped to touch the Cod Fish. Landscaping completes the park. Please hire the person who created this work of art. Check it out I’m sure you will be impressed with this little park.

  3. Physical works of art, yes, but in good taste. This is the most precious square around. I agree with Maryann … Works of art that all can appreciate. However benches , as Sandro created, are also of utmost importance. It’s a very historical site… Planning correctly will take time. Don’t rush it.

  4. I’d like to see a simple monument, statues, depicting children playing, to honor the generations of North End children who have played on the streets and called the North End home. With St. John School nearby, this would be an appropriate site. Whatever public art is installed, it must be historic and traditional, keeping with the area.

  5. North Square should not be a playground, we have playgrounds nearby. It is a historical site and should be treated as such. It is part of the Freedom Trail and the art should reflect the historical context of the location. No modern art, no bandstands and loud music! It’s a place to come and sit while on the Trail or taking a break from local labors. Enjoy a cannoli or some gelato, and reflect on all the history that took place there during the creation of our nation. There are appropriate places for other types of art, modern – interactive, political, etc. I like those things as well. But not in North Square, Paul and Rachel Revere’s front yard.

  6. Obviously, something that reflects the iconic character of the neighborhood. We see comments that say “no modern art” . . . what should it be, a pile of bricks? I would commission an artist with experience and allow them the freedom to interpret the space.

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