Swan boats return for the season

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One of our favorite signs that the seasons are changing and spring has arrived is the return of the Swan Boats to Boston Public Garden lagoon. These floating beauties date back to the 1870s and they have seen many changes over the years floating around, however the same family continues the summer pastime for all Bostonians.

The Paget family began this business when Irish immigrant and shipbuilder Robert Paget was granted a boat for hire licensed by the city, when he was rowing a small boat in the Public Garden lagoon. Later in the decade, Robert drew inspiration from a catamaran-style boat designed to sit atop two pontoons, which allowed passengers to sit on benches in front of the captain, like we see today.

If your curious where the swans came from — this version of the boat was foot-propelled (think: a bicycle attached to a paddle wheel) and to cover this contraption Robert designed a swan after attending the opera Lohengrin in New York City. At the end of the performance, the hero crosses a river in a boat drawn by a swan.

In 1914, the boats were expanded in size to five benches that would accommodate 20 passengers per boat. The current fleet includes boats built between 1910 and 1992 and features oak benches + signature ornamental brass.

They are pretty famous, and not to just to Bostonians. The swan boats are mentioned in Robert McCloskey’s children’s picture book “Make Way for Ducklings.”

Today, the swan boats are open from early April to late September and is run by fourth generation members of the Padget family. Guests can purchase tickets for 15-minute rides seven days a week around the lagoon. The trip around the pond is about one-quarter mile and in one day a driver can navigate 7+ miles.

Save the date: the first ride of the season will take off on Saturday, April 13 at 10 a.m.

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