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  Nira Avenue Rock
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Address: Nira Ave, Jamaica Plain-Mission Hill

2008 Status: Protected

2008 Condition: Intact

Site Size: 1.5 Acres

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Description: Nira Avenue Rock Urban Wild is a small property with great significance and impact to its thickly settled neighborhood of Hyde Square in Jamaica Plain. Nira Rock is somewhat hidden within the neighborhood due to its relationship with the abutting properties of the Veterans Affairs Hospital and Jefferson Playground and the surrounding topography. In effect, the Wild is a dead-end property situated at the terminus of Arcola Street, Nira Avenue, and Grotto Glen Road. Arcola Street dead-ends at a grassy slope that leads to the top of a 30-foot outcrop of Roxbury conglomerate. This namesake outcrop covers most of the southern portion of the Wild. To the south and west the sheer faces of the outcrop are revealed as fissured and fallen slabs of puddingstone, while to the north a great solid wall looms over a meadow and orchard below. A circuit trail follows the southern border of the property leading visitors down from the top of the outcrop to its base along the VA Hospital fence. Here the trail merges with a paved footpath that leads north along the VA Hospital fence line. This footpath was installed in 2007 as part of a renovation project organized by the Friends of Nira Rock. Canopy tree and shrub plantings including red maple, tupelo, and service berry line the footpath providing habitat value and screening. The footpath terminates in the north at a landscaped entrance accessed by Grotto Glen Road and Jefferson Playground. The renovation effort, including this new entrance, has increased the aesthetic value, safety, and recreational use of the property. The northern portion of Nira Rock Urban Wild contains a meadow and a small orchard of apple and other fruit trees. The large open face of Nira Rock provides a dramatic backdrop to this meadow. A field stone path lead visitors in from the dead-end of Nira Avenue, through the meadow area, and to the north down a slope to Jefferson Playground. Trees including sugar maple, eastern redbud, and alternate leaved dogwood have been planted within the meadow and along the base of Nira Rock. Gray birch, black cherry, and mountain ash grow from the rock itself.

Current Use: Local residents and neighbors use Nira Rock Urban Wild for active and passive recreation including walking, bird watching, and rock climbing. A number of non-profit and neighborhood organizations, including BNAN, use the property for educational and recreational programming.

History: Nira Avenue Rock was the dividing line between two large estates in the early 19th century. The land was principally used as farmland and records from that period refer to farmhouses, barns, taverns, a slaughterhouse, and a prominent ledge of rocks. The site was partially developed as a portion of a large puddingstone quarry. In 1994, BNAF helped protect the property through acquisition and transfer to the Boston Parks & Recreation Department. Nira Rock Urban Wild is now supported by the Parks Departmentís Urban Wilds Initiative (UWI) and a community group, the Friends of Nira Rock (FONR). Continuing the site Improvements made previously by BNAN the Parks Dept., FONR and UWI have completed a series of phased site enhancements In the past few years that have Included the following: regrading and formal connection with Jefferson Playground, pathway installation, fence replacement along the VA border, removal of construction debris piles, and the Installation of native, lower maintenance restoration trees, shrubs and groundcover. Numerous private and nonprofit groups have assisted the FONR with site cleanups and plantings. In this same period, BNAN has lead invasive plant removal workshops and has conducted rock climbing clinics on site.

Ward: 09

Site ID: 09-06

Site Owner: Boston Parks Department

Access Points: Publicly accessible at Nira Avenue and Arcola Street, and Grotto Glen Road (via Jefferson Playground).

Visitation Hours: Dawn to dusk

Urban Wild Picture 1
The exposed face of Nira Rock provides excellent recreational opportunities for the public.

Urban Wild Picture 2
View to the north to Mission Hill from the highest point of Nira Rock.

Stewardship Group: Friends of Nira Rock