Hatch Memorial Shell

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Hatch Memorial Shell
Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra 2005-07-04.jpg
The Boston Pops performing at the Hatch Shell on July 4, 2005
Former names Edward A. Hatch Memorial Shell
Location Boston, Massachusetts
Coordinates Coordinates: 42°21′26″N 71°04′25″W / 42.357311°N 71.073687°W / 42.357311; -71.073687
Owner Department of Conservation and Recreation
Type Outdoor amphitheater
Seating type open
Capacity 10,000
Opened 1928

The Edward A. Hatch Memorial Shell (commonly referred to as the "Hatch Shell") is an outdoor concert venue on the Charles River Esplanade in the Back Bay section of Boston, Massachusetts.

The Hatch Shell is best known for hosting the Boston Pops Orchestra annually for the Boston Fourth of July celebration, but is also used for free concerts most weekends and many weeknights during the summer months. The grass pavilion in front of the stage has no permanent seating. There is a memorial to Arthur Fiedler, first permanent conductor of the Pops, nearby.


The original, wooden shell was built in 1928 as a temporary venue for the Pops with expectations of construction of a permanent structure in the near future. It was first used for a concert on July 4, 1929, with Arthur Fiedler conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra. A second, temporary shell, made of metal, was built in 1934, but owing to sparse funding throughout the Great Depression, construction of a permanent Hatch Shell was delayed until 1939-1940. Today's permanent shell was designed by architect Richard J. Shaw, given by Maria Hatch in memory of her brother, and dedicated on July 2, 1940. In preparation for its 50th anniversary in 1991, it underwent significant renovation and repair along with modernization of its acoustics by Boston architecture firm Finegold Alexander. Bostonian Howard Brickman, a master craftsman specializing in wood floors, re-created the intricate interior paneling of the shell by hand.

Statue of Arthur Fiedler on the Esplanade near the Hatch Shell

George S. Patton Statue[edit]

The Hatch Shell Circle features a statue of US General George S. Patton. Patton was considered by some to be the greatest American general of World War II.[1] By June of 1945, Allied forces had defeated Nazi Germany, and Patton had been instrumental in the victory. He had achieved astonishing successes in liberating France and at the Battle of the Bulge. He liberated more of France than any other Allied general, and had conquered his areas of France with overwhelming speed.[2] During his performance in WWII, he had been promoted to four star general.

On June 7, 1945, Patton addressed a crowd of 20,000 people at the Hatch Shell. Being a famous and sometimes controversial military commander, his presence attracted a large crowd. In his speech, he praised the soldiers under his command as heroes, and paid tribute to all the soldiers, both living and dead.[3] In commemoration of his speech, an 8 foot tall statue of Patton was erected at the Charles River Esplande in 1953. The statue was designed by sculptor James Earle Fraser. The standing portrait statue features Patton dressed in combat uniform, holding a pair of binoculars. It is made of bronze and sits atop a 4 foot pink granite base.[4]

Notable concerts and performances[edit]

In addition to Patton's address, there have been many notable concerts and performances at the Hatch Shell. One of the most memorable shows at the venue was on September 9, 1994 when Green Day held a free concert. The event was touted as the Welcome Back Weekend show for college students, and was sponsored by WFNX Radio. Tens of thousands of people showed up, and during the song, "Longview", Green Day's frontman, Billie Joe Armstrong, began ripping up a flowerbed and the crowd began violently rioting.[5] Police formed a human chain, and eventually pushed the remaining fans off the Esplanade. Calm was restored after about two hours.

The Hatch Shell was the venue for what has been claimed[by whom?] to be the largest concert in Independent Music Industry history, when Dispatch held The Last Dispatch concert there and 110,000 people attended. Other uses of the Hatch Shell include movie showings and political speeches, and it is used as a meeting place for large events, such as AIDS Walk Boston and the Larry Kessler 5K Run. From 1996 until 2012, the Hatch Shell was the home of Oldies 103.3 WODS Free Summer Concert Series. The grass pavilion is used for picnics, casual sports, and sunbathing in a manner typical of urban parks.

The Hatch Shell was featured in the 2012 movie Ted where Ted (Seth MacFarlane) and John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) crash a Norah Jones concert in an attempt to win back John's girlfriend Lori (Mila Kunis).

Renovations and restoration[edit]

Oval Lawn restoration at the Hatch Shell during the fall of 2014

In the fall of 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation and The Esplanade Association began work on improvements to the Oval Lawn. Key improvements included removal of the existing soil, installation of underground utilities, amendment and re-installation of the soil, and establishment of sod.[6]


  • Martha Burnham Humphrey, The Edward Hatch Memorial Shell: Richard Shaw, architect, William R. Barss, acoustic consultant, Maurice Reidy, structural engineer : dedicated July 2, 1940, published in 1940.
  • Jim Vrabel, When in Boston: a time line & almanac, Bostonian Society, Northeastern University Press, 2004, page 294.
  1. ^ Axelrod, Alan (2006), Patton: A Biography, London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-1-4039-7139-5
  2. ^ http://hommage-general-patton.org/en/index.htm
  3. ^ Blumenson, Martin (1974), The Patton Papers: 1940–1945, Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-18498-3
  4. ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/wallyg/4890118647/
  5. ^ Green Day Riot at CelebrateBoston.com
  6. ^ "Public Meeting On Hatch Shell Oval Lawn Restoration Project". Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 2014-10-01. Retrieved 2014-10-08. 

External links[edit]