Rocks on Spectacle Island
Geoff Rand

Spectacle is the newest addition to the Boston Harbor Islands. Like all the other islands, it's been around since the last Ice Age. But for the last 50 years it's been an abandoned city garbage dump with smoldering underground methane fires. Before that, Spectacle was the site of a factory that rendered the city's dead horses into glue and hides.

Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel project led to the island's reincarnation as the park we see today. Beginning in the early 1990s some 4,400 barge-loads of dirt excavated from the Big Dig were used to cap the old dump, before the addition of topsoil and vegetation. The island's height increased by 60 feet.

The "new" Spectacle Island finally reopened to the public in 2006 with a visitor's center, a cafe, a substantial marina, and ferry service, making it a hub of the Harbor Islands Park.