The Fenway Alliance: Walkability in a Commerical District

A Good Idea


The Fenway Alliance is comprised of 22 member agencies and organizations based in the Fenway Cultural District of Boston, Massachusetts. The goal of each member organization is to create a place that people will want to walk to and enjoy. This goal is rooted in the belief that changes to the physical environment of a community can have an impact on many health-related issues, from asthma to diabetes and from traffic safety to community violence.

When the alliance began in 1977, the major objective was to make changes to the area such that it was safe for residents, visitors and workers in the area. Once this objective was achieved, the alliance began to work on ways to make the area more attractive and accessible for community members. This led the group to alter the space between the buildings in the Fenway District. Now, a system of linked parks, sweeping vistas, reflecting pools, bike paths, and walkways, makes the district one of the most uniquely designed historic urban waterways in the nation. In the early 2000s, the group began a major undertaking to remodel Huffington Avenue/Avenue of the Arts to make it more pedestrian friendly and to increase foot traffic in the area. In addition, restoration of Muddy River Park was undertaken. Twice in the past decade, flooding of the River had caused millions of dollars in damage to the museums and buildings in the district.

The Fenway Alliance is unique because they collaborate with all community stakeholders; they are currently collaborating with preservation groups to achieve a balance between historic landscape preservation principles, resource protection regulations, public safety measures, and modern engineering practices.

Goal / Mission

To achieve an improved physical environment, sense of community, and quality of life for members, residents and patrons of the Fenway Cultural District in Boston, Massachusetts.

Results / Accomplishments

Renovation of Huntington Avenue/Avenue of the Arts was completed in the fall of 2004. People once feared for their safety in this area and now pedestrians utilize the avenue at all hours of the day and night. Much of this transformation has been attributed to efforts to make the area more pedestrian friendly and vibrant. The upgrades at the Muddy River Park have made the area beautiful place for residents and visitors and threats of flooding have been greatly reduced.

The Fenway Alliance has not been able to document increased physical activity as a result of the restoration efforts; however, they have been able to monitor increased admission to, and patronage of, local institutions. The Fenway Alliance cites that many previous research studies have shown that improving pedestrian access, as they have accomplished, increases walking activity and overall health.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Kelly Brilliant
Executive Director
The Fenway Alliance
(617) 437-7544
Health / Exercise, Nutrition, & Weight
Environment / Built Environment
The Fenway Alliance
Prevention Institute
Geographic Type
Fenway District, Boston, MA
For more details
Target Audience
Children, Adults, Families

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