After being purchased in 1634 by the Puritans, the next three centuries were unkind to Boston Common.
Initially subject to overgrazing by cows, the 50-acre Common served as a British camp during the Revolutionary War. Later, it served as a hub for public hangings. In 1830, it achieved public park status but quickly became a murky dumping ground.
Things looked up for it in the 20th century when it hosted Martin Luther King Jr., Pope John Paul II, Mikhail Gorbachev and Judy Garland. The bruised and beaten Boston Common finally became a well-protected National Historic Landmark in 1987.