The Boston Parks and Recreation Department announced this week that they will return the Eden Street Park name to World War I veteran Leo F. McCarthy instead of the Edwards Playground.
The name of the playground has sparked quite a bit of controversy over the past several months as the City has engaged the community on a re-construction of the popular Main Street park. Many bristled at the designation of it as the Edwards Playground – feeling that the middle school next door was trying to encroach on the neighborhood’s only piece of open space. Now, Parks said they would now make McCarthy the official name, whereas before it was the Edwards on City documents.
“Early on in the community process it was brought to my attention that Edwards was dedicated as Leo F. McCarthy Playground in 1940,” read a statement from Parks Project Manager Allison Perlman. “Based on my conversations with the neighborhood, it seems there is a desire and general consensus to return the playground to this name and the Parks Department will do so once the renovation is complete.”
Kim Mahoney, of the Bunker Hill Associates, said the organization was very happy to see the official change. They had lobbied during the design process for the park to make certain the name would honor the veteran, McCarthy.
“We are so happy that Mayor Walsh listened to the concerns of the neighborhood and has decided to keep the name honoring the memory of Leo McCarthy, a war hero,” she said. “For many of us in the neighborhood, the park is very special, and keeping Leo McCarthy’s name is one of the things that makes it special. Most in the neighborhood have been using this park for more than 50 years.”
The Patriot Bridge previously reported that the naming of the park had been in limbo because when McCarthy got the designation, it wasn’t done through official channels, but rather through political channels. As the park was originally named Edwards Playground in 1936, that name seemed to stick in official documents and City applications, though few had used that name in the past century.
In 1940, a quick movement was made by Charlestown’s city councilor to name the park after World War I veteran Leo McCarthy – who resided on Russell Street.
The Park was likely named after him during the annual Bunker Hill festivities, because a huge celebration was had on June 16, 1940 for McCarthy and the naming ceremony.
Naturally, even though the park will soon be officially known as the McCarthy Playground, a measure heartily supported by neighbors, it is likely that few will use that name on common conversation.
For the initiated in the Town, it will always be ‘Eden Street,’ or for some, ‘The Kitchen.’ But that’s a story for another day.