Read a report on his 1990 visit, which included a rally on the Esplanade:
Mandela admirers arrived on foot and by car, bus, train, bike, boat and even inner tube. Families spread out blankets and set up lawn chairs on the grass for picnics, while giant screens brought the speech closer. Hawkers sold T-shirts bearing such slogans as "Boston Welcomes Mandela" and "Sanctions Until Democracy."
Chuck Digate and three friends were sitting on the deck behind their 19th-Century brownstone overlooking the Esplanade, sipping cocktails, munching chips and dip and watching a color TV perched on the ledge.
"It's a lot of fun but also it's extremely important," Digate said.