This story takes place on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau lived at the pond from July 1845 to September 1847. The pond itself—clear and pristine for being so close to an urban area—has no inflow or outflow. It spans half a mile and contains just over 61 acres. Thoreau admits that its scenery "is on a humble scale" but remains "very beautiful" and "remarkable for its depth and purity." He chose to live on its banks in order to enjoy a simpler life, eschew modern conveniences, and live by the work of his own hands. He builds a modest shelter and spends most of his time thinking, writing, farming, and building.
But why Walden? Thoreau already lived in Concord and worked for his family's business, and the pond is a short distance south of Concord on land owned by Ralph Waldo Emerson, another Transcendentalist writer who approved of his project. Its peaceful waters inspired Thoreau to delve deeper into the true significance of nature to humanity and provided the perfect backdrop for his experiment. Today, Walden Pond is a designated National Historic Landmark, and its fame via Walden resulted in an influx of funding to preserve the woods around it. It has become a symbol of the importance of nature and self-reliance.