Swan Boats (Boston, Massachusetts)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For Nautor's Swan Boats, see Nautor's_Swan.
Boston Swan Boat
The Swan Boat Dock; note pedals on nearest boat
Swan Boats, 2013

The Swan Boats are a fleet of dual-pontooned pleasure boats which operate in a pond in the Public Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Swan Boats have been in operation since 1877, and have since become a cultural icon for the city. They operate beginning the second weekend of April and ending the third weekend in September.[1] Robert Paget first created the Swan Boats in the Public Garden in 1877 after operating a Row Boat rental operation, after seeing the opera Lohengrin with his wife Julia Paget. Inspired by the Knight's gallant rescue of the damsel by riding a Swan across the lake, Paget decided to capitalize on the recent popularity of the bicycle and combine boat with swan and bicycle on the water, and designed a two pontooned boat with two wooden benches and a brass seat on top of a paddlebox concealed by a swan. The driver would sit inside the swan and pedal passengers around the pond.

Current Design[edit]

To this day, the design for the Swan Boat has changed very little. The boats have been replaced throughout the years, and currently there is a fleet of six boats in operation. Each boat has kept the original two-pontooned design with the brass seat atop a paddlebox concealed by a swan and the wooden benches for passengers. However, more rows of benches have been added over the years. Five of the six boats have five rows, each row holding about three to four adults, and one boat has five rows which seat two to three adults each. The boats vary in age. The oldest boat in operation was built in 1918,[2] and the newest was built in 1995.

Current Operation[edit]

The Swan Boats operate in the same pond in the Public Garden in which they have operated for over 135 years. Riding a Swan Boat is a peaceful, quiet, and memorable experience which usually takes about 12–15 minutes. Each boat is powered solely by a driver, often a high school or college student, who pedals the boat like a bike to move the boat. The boats are steered by pulling one of two ropes connected to a series of pulleys and a rudder, which turns and steers the boat. Tickets are cheap, only $3 ($1.50 for children), and the Swan Boats have become a Boston tradition and symbol of the city.

The Swan Boats are famed for their appearance in the stories of Make Way For Ducklings and The Trumpet of the Swan, and are often portrayed in tourist guides and other books about the city.[3] In 1954 service was interrupted during the summer for the first time when city officials drained the lake after 30 ducks died due to an infection.[4]


  1. ^ "Swan Boats.com- Schedules and Fares". Retrieved 16 May 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.swanboats.com/history
  3. ^ "The Swan Boats Story". The Swan Boats of Boston. Archived from the original on 2008-04-28. Retrieved 2008-05-27. 
  4. ^ "Boston Swanboats Ply Their Way Again After Lapse". New York Times (New York). 16 August 1954. Retrieved 21 April 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′14″N 71°04′11″W / 42.354016°N 71.069643°W / 42.354016; -71.069643