Gateway Park is a small park/playground located near the southern end of Boston’s Rose Kennedy Greenway. It sits in the shadow of the Chinatown Gate, so the park’s condition sends a powerful message about the state of the neighborhood and Boston generally. Unlike the newly created Chinatown Park to the north, Gateway Park is in poor condition and suffers from the following problems:

  • wood play structure and wood benches rotting
  • plaza brickwork surrounding play structure loose and missing
  • lack of plantings (existing plant beds empty)
  • food waste, pigeon and rat feces on plaza surface
  • bones and cigarette butts in sandbox
  • trash, newspapers, empty liquor bottles on ground
  • public urination on plaza and in empty plant beds

Improving this park is listed as a community priority in the City of Boston Open Space Plan 2008-2012 Draft (at page 7.2.3-11): “Address immediate security and safety problems at Gateway Park, such as garbage and conflicts with vagrants. Redesign Gateway Park to better meet community needs.” This language is identical to the community priority stated in the previous Open Space Plan 2002-2006 at page 68.

China Gate Park


With help, Gateway Park could be a pleasant public space for families, children, and local residents.


[2008.05.12] We began identifying people who may working on this issue already. Updates to follow.

[2008.06.01] We checked in with Debbie Ho at Speaker Dimasi’s Office—she is interested in the issue.

[2008.06.02] We called Boston Inspectional Services Department to report rats nest in vacant lot adjacent to the playground.

[2008.06.11] We spoke to several neighbors in the park who reported seeing the rats moving between the park and a basement doorway of a nearby building. We worked with the building owner to set spring-loaded rat traps in the basement, baited with beef jerky (no poison). As of this morning, we have disposed of two large rats from the traps. (Note: I took care of this bit of “advocacy” myself, without the kids.)

[2008.06.14] We planted morning glories in the park. We dug out a bed along the south fence and filled in with a new bag of topsoil. We used a tray of seedlings that we had started indoors on our window sill. We created a border from a pile of loose plaza bricks and watered with two old laundry detergent jugs. Total time: 35 minutes. Total cost (for topsoil and seeds): $4.85. A neighbor walked by, introduced herself, and offered to help us water the seedlings in the weeks ahead.

[2009.07.9] The Boston Redevelopment Authority sent out a request for proposals to re-design Gateway Park (or “China Gate Park”). The RFP states:

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (“BRA”) is soliciting proposals from qualified individuals or companies (“Proponent”) to provide professional Design Services in connection with China Gate Park on Hudson Street in Boston’s Chinatown neighborhood. This proposal will develop park and play space improvements that address issues of site and landscape design including pavements and drainage, play elements, and signage for the proposal area.

The kids and I will be following how this plays out, and we’ll be learning about how designs for public space are chosen in a city. Good stuff.

[2009.08.04]  Today, uncharacteristically, the trash cans in the park have not been emptied for days, and the litter is swirling around the park and playground. Tomorrow morning, if it’s still a problem, the kids and I have decided to make some calls and see who can address it.

[2009.08.05] The cans were emptied by mid-morning and the litter cleaned up. No calls made on our end.

[2009.10.21] From Kye Liang of the Chinatown Gateway Coalition: The Mayor’s Office, Boston Redevelopment Authority, Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and the Soo Hoo Family will be hosting an event on Wednesday, Oct 21 to announce the selection of the design team for the Mary Soo Hoo Park (aka Chinatown Gateway Park).

A design team has been announced for renovation of the park.

[2009.12.15] BRA to hold public meeting about park design process on Dec. 17, 2009.

[2010.02.20] BRA to hold second public meeting about park design on Feb 25, 2010. More info here from BRA.

[2010.03.10] BRA to hold second public meeting about park design on Mar 25, 2010. More info here from BRA.

[2010.07.24] The Boston Redevelopment Authority’s board of directors approves project proposal to improve the Chinatown Gate/Mary Soo Hoo Park and grants approvals to seek construction services bids.

[2010.12.02] The Boston Redevelopment Authority hosts a public meeting on the progress of the Mary Soo Hoo Park design, including recent changes to the park’s boundary and park construction schedule.

[2001.06.01] The construction of the park is now well underway. We’re experimenting with Flickr as a way to document it. Your can see our photostream here:




2 responses to “Improving Gateway Park”

  1. sue brown Avatar
    sue brown

    where do your efforts stand on this project?

    1. Sam Avatar

      A few months ago, with the consent of the City Parks Department and the Turnpike Authority, and in partnership with a local community group, we applied for a grant from a private funding source to make improvements to the park/playground, with a focus on new plantings in existing beds. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the grant. The park continues to deteriorate. The bricks are slowly being removed/dislodged from the plaza and many are scattered around the park. We’ll take some new photos and post soon.