Guest Contributor – Light Dancing on Water: The Charles River Esplanade

It was a visit to the Charles River Esplanade over fifteen years ago that convinced me to stay in Boston. Back then and even now, I write friends and family of that moment, describing how the sunlight danced on the surface of the silky blue waters. Over time, strolling the park’s various walkways and paths, I was motivated to pick up a camera so that I could show people the beauty before me and not just tell them about it.

I walk the Esplanade’s course at different times of the same day, as well as at different times of the year. Each instance always provides unexpected visual pleasures for me, from leaves on the ground to fish in the water. Only recently have I learned of the park’s origins: how the three mile stretch was created from landfill, and how the different pieces of the park, from the walkways and bridges to the playgrounds and boathouses, have evolved over the decades. It continues to evolve as caretakers balance environmental stewardship and cultural preservation with meeting the recreational needs of Boston’s residents.

I did not grow up in a big city. With its concrete and asphalt, albeit beautifully designed and executed concrete and asphalt, Boston can sometimes become overwhelming. In those moments, when I do feel the need for a respite, I make my way to the river and to the Esplanade. I have not left the city behind but I certainly feel closer to nature. And, I think that is the unique beauty of the Esplanade, enabling people to be both connected to their city life and to nature in a meaningful way.





Cynthia Staples is a writer and photographer. Her work has appeared in several online and print publications including African Voices, Creativity Portal, Flashquake, F-Stop, the Seattle Times and more. Follow her musings at and view more of her photography at

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I haven’t spent much time in Boston so I was unfamiliar with the Esplanade. It looks quite nice. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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