As it turns out, although Jamaica Pond seems shallow from the shoreline, it’s actually a kettle hole formed by a glacier— and has a depth of more than 50 feet in some places. What’s more, the drop-off can be extremely steep. Ryan Woods, spokesperson for the Boston Parks Recreation and Development, once told the Jamaica Plain Gazette “It drops like a black hole, creating a dangerous situation.”
In fact, swimming in Jamaica Pond was banned after two drownings in the mid-1970s. Before that, swimming was enjoyed for generations, and the Pond was even a popular site for massive Four of July celebrations and swimming contests in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The subsequent ban hasn’t totally prevented additional tragedies: The most recent drowning in the pond occurred in 2007 when a woman drowned fully clothed near a shallow beach on the northern end. There was a public debate in 2008 about bringing swimming back to Jamaica Pond, but it was quickly dismissed over such safety concerns.
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