In 1991, after almost a decade of planning, construction began on the Central Artery/Tunnel Project, more widely known as the "Big Dig". The project, recognized as one of the largest, most complex, and technologically challenging in the history of the United States, would remove the elevated highway and create a tunnel system below the city.
With the elevated highway to be relocated underground, community and political leaders seized the opportunity to enhance the city by creating the Greenway, a linear series of parks and gardens that would re-connect some of Boston’s oldest, most diverse, and vibrant neighborhoods. The creation of the Greenway was a joint effort of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA), the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the City of Boston, and various civic groups.
On October 4, 2008, tens of thousands of visitors came together for the parks’ Inaugural Celebration with the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy.The following year, on February 23, 2009 the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy assumed operational responsibility for the parks. Today, the Greenway encompasses gardens, plazas, and tree-lined promenades and is a key feature of the modern reinvention of Boston, the Harbor and the Waterfront.
The Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy was established as an independently incorporated non-profit organization in 2004 to guide the emerging park system and raise funds for an endowment and operations. In 2008, the State Legislature confirmed the Conservancy as the designated steward of the Rose Kennedy Greenway and established a 50%-50% public/private funding model that has proven successful. Today, each dollar from the state is leveraged by more than one dollar of private support. Since February 2009, the Conservancy has operated the park, leading the maturation of this new civic space, strengthening its physical beauty, and encouraging a sense of a shared community in Boston. The Conservancy operates with a lease from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (now Massachusetts Department of Transportation).