History & Culture

Each of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands has a rich human history. We invite you to learn more about the stories, people, places, and objects associated with each island, and with the overall island system.

Visit National Park Service (NPS) for a summary of history and culture at Boston Harbor Islands:

Island Culture

More from NPS about ethnography and cultural history:

Historic Sites, Structures & Artifacts
More from NPS about remaining tangible culture:

Island History

More from NPS about topics in the history of the islands and Boston Harbor:

Go to Sesquescentennial activities: Civil War: 150

Frequently Asked Questions

Do the Islands have any historic trails?

Yes-many islands were the former sites of forts, hotels, hospitals, and homes.  Many of these historic paths are best taken with a park ranger during an island tour.  Please refer to each island for specific tour times.

How is the water quality?

The Boston Harbor cleanup and creation of the Deer Island Sewage Treatmeny Plant have resulted in Boston Harbor going from one of the dirtiest urban harbors in the country to one of the cleanest.  There is still the occasional summer day when the bacteria count may be too high.  This is usually due to excessive rainfall, and the Dept. of Conservation and Recreation will close harbor beaches, including Spectacle Island.  Water temperaure in mid summer is in the high 60s, a little warmer than Nantasket Beach and equal to or slightly warmer than other ocean beaches of New England.      

Park Map

Boston Harbor Island Map

History & Culture

Boston Harbor Islands videos

Details about Boston Harbor Islands park supplied by National Park Service