Allston and Brighton are a part of Boston in Suffolk County. Different postal districts, 02134 for Allston and 02135 for Brighton separates them. Their boundaries entwine and are considered by many of its residents as one large community. Area residents describe Allston as the area closer to Cambridge abutting the Charles River and including the commercial area called Allston Village. Others describe Brighton as the section closer to Brookline and Newton Lines stretching from the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and including Brighton Center. Allston and Brighton are diverse with an international population and many different neighborhoods. They offer a variety of housing options and life styles. One way to capture the flavor of Brighton and Allston is to look at the neighborhoods and describe each one. We suggest you visit each of the neighborhoods and experience them for yourself. Here is a tour we suggest you take:
Starting in ALLSTON, begin your tour from the City of Cambridge crossing over the Charles River on the Larz Anderson Bridge from Harvard Square to North Harvard Street. Allston was once a part of the City of Cambridge. When you enter the area from this direction, the first landmark you see is the infamous Harvard University School of Business on one side of the street and the Harvard University Athletic Facilities plus Harvard Stadium on the other. This area is adjacent to the Charles River and Storrow Drive, one of the major arteries going in and out of the City of Boston. Storrow Drive East takes you into Downtown Boston. Storrow Dive West intersect with Soldier’s Field Road, a beautiful winding multilane road that runs adjacent to the Charles River and MDC Recreational facilities adjoining the Charles River. Please take the time to explore the bicycle paths, picnic grounds, kyak and canoe rental facility, and even an outdoor theater that is a part of the MDC Recreational facilities.
The first part of North Harvard Street is primarily Harvard University up to Western Avenue. Once you cross Western Avenue, you enter the primary neighborhood of Allston. Please note that Western Avenue, Allston, is the site of WGBH Studios and offices, home of some of PBS’s finest productions including “This Old House” and “Masterpiece Theatre”. This section of Allston is a very residential community consisting of single, two-family, and three-family houses, plus a minimal number of small apartment buildings, newer construction townhouses, and local businesses. A recent addition of an expanded Brighton Mills Shopping Plaza has given the neighborhood the convenience of larger stores and supermarket. The 66 Bus route connects this community from Cambridge to Brighton and Brookline. The southern end of this area abuts The Massachusetts Turnpike (Mass Pike- Route 90 East and West) linking Boston to the western suburbs and beyond. Many homebuyers chose this section of Allston for its commuter convenience along with its appeal for a less urban setting.
North Harvard Street ends on Cambridge Street, a well traveled street from East to West that goes from the Charles River across from River Street in Cambridge to Brighton Center. If we take Cambridge Street from North Harvard Street heading west, our first major intersection is Harvard Avenue (this is also the same route as Bus 66 if you want to take this tour by public transportation). This section of Cambridge Street is mainly a commercial district. Off of Cambridge Street immediately after the intersection of Harvard Avenue is Rugg Road, home of the Rugg Road Artists’ Studios. Some of the older warehouses and industrial sites in Metro Boston have been converted to Artists’ studio space. The Rugg Road Artists’ Studios offers an annual Open Studio Event that attracts many in the area.
Harvard Avenue is the main commercial thoroughfare of the Allston area. Harvard Avenue offers an array of international restaurants, local bars and entertainment spots, and other local businesses. This bustling commercial district is visited by many in the area along with local college students. We suggest you visit the Web Site of Allston Village, to find out more about this area at www.allstonvillage.com. The streets surrounding Harvard Avenue consist of turn of the century housing stock, primarily multi-family houses and apartment buildings with some of the apartment buildings converted into condominiums over the past twenty years. A few blocks east of Harvard Avenue is the beginning of the Boston University campus.
Harvard Avenue crosses two large streets, Brighton Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue and ends as Harvard Street once you cross into Brookline. At each of these intersections there are a large variety of businesses, restaurants, and entertainment spots. On Brighton Avenue, a few blocks west of Harvard Avenue, there is an intersection with Cambridge and North Beacon Streets. This area is known as Union Square. Union Square is home to the Jackson Mann Community Center, a busy meeting place for many of Allston and Brighton residents. Union Square is also home to popular local businesses including international restaurants. South of Union Square is Ringer playground and park, one of the area’s largest green spaces within a very urban setting. The housing stock is primarily multi-family homes and apartment and condominium buildings.
Heading east from Harvard Avenue, Brighton Avenue merges with Commonwealth Avenue. Commonwealth Avenue (Comm Ave.) is one of Metro Boston’s most recognizable and well-traveled streets. Comm Ave. originates at Arlington Street, the site of the Public Garden in Back Bay, Boston. It continues through Kenmore Square into Allston, past Boston University Campus into Brighton. Comm Ave. continues beyond Brighton through the City of Newton ending at Route 128/95 beltway. The center medial area of Comm Ave. has the tracks for the MBTA Greenline T-stops for the B-Line from Kenmore Square/ B.U. Stop to the Boston College stop at the end of the line. This aboveground section of the B-Line subway attracts many commuting residents to reside in its adjacent housing stock. Commonwealth Avenue is the site of some of Metro Boston’s finest supply of turn of the century quality apartment buildings, many of which were converted to condominiums during the past twenty years. With Boston College on the western end of this stretch of Commonwealth Avenue and Boston University on the eastern end, the number of students living in the area runs into the thousands. This part of Allston and Brighton also attracts students from the other local colleges and universities due to its many conveniences and access to the T-Line.
Commonwealth Avenue has some notable points of reference besides those already mentioned. Close to the intersection of Gordon Street is Ringer Park, Brighton’s largest green space. A block away on Warren Street, you will find the Franciscan Children’s Hospital and Brighton’s only High School. Two blocks west after Warren Street is Vencor Hospital, which is in close proximity to Washington Street with access to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital.
Commonwealth Avenue heading west after Washington Street has two abutting neighborhoods, the Nottinghill Area to the north and the Aberdeen Area to the south. The Nottinghill Area offers residential surroundings of primarily single and multi-family houses set on a lovely sloping hill with tree-lined streets. The Aberdeen Area is primarily turn of the century brick apartment and condominium buildings with a small scattering of single and multi-family houses and abuts the Brookline Line, Beacon Street, and the area known as Cleveland Circle. The Nottinghill and Aberdeen Areas along with Cleveland Circle and the Reservoir Area are considered desirable because of the accessibility to many conveniences: 3 T-Lines of the MBTA (the B-Line on Commonwealth Avenue, the C-Line on Beacon Street, and the D-Line on Chestnut Hill Avenue), the Chestnut Hill Reservoir and parks, and all of the great shops, restaurants, and movie theatres. These areas are also close to the main campus of Boston College, which lies west of the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
North of the Nottinghill Area is Brighton Center. This area is one of the largest commercial districts of Brighton, the site of Brighton’s only High School, St. Elizabeth Hospital, the Brighton branch of the Boston Public Library, the district courthouse, the police station, and the junction of four different bus lines. Close to Brighton Center is the Mansion District, named by the locals and recognized as a neighborhood of some of the finest turn-of-the-century Victorian and Colonial style homes in metro Boston. Washington Street runs through Brighton Center to Oak Square and beyond to the Newton Line.
Oak Square is a convergence of Washington, Faneuil, Tremont, Nonantum Streets, and Breck Avenue along with connecting the bus routes 57 and 64. The neighborhoods surrounding Oak Square are the Breck Hill area to the West, Presentation Hill to the North and Faneuil Area to the East. All of these neighborhoods boast lovely residential tree-lined streets with primarily single, two, and three-family homes. Many streets in these areas have wonderful views because of the significant hills. All three areas are very popular with commuters since there is easy access to the Newton Corner exit (#17) of the Massachusetts Turnpike (route 90) and Soldier’s Field Road. Both Breck Hill and Presentation Hill’s streets cross into the Newton City Line offering a more suburban setting than most of Brighton.
South of Breck Hill is an area that surrounds Chandler Pond and abuts the Commonwealth Golf Course in Newton. Chandler Pond, approximately ten acres big, was originally excavated in 1865 and continues to provide a beautiful haven for nature lovers. It has its own neighborhood organization, The Chandler Pond Preservation Society. This group has secured funds from the City of Boston to restore the Pond and keep it a thriving habitat for local wildlife. You can obtain further information about the Chandler Pond Preservation Society by contacting them at P.O. Box 35521, Brighton, MA 02135 or e-mail: OnChandler@aol.com. The homes surrounding Chandler Pond are primarily single family homes with a smaller number of two family homes. The condominiums known as Towne Estates border the western side of the Pond. This neighborhood is in walking distance to Commonwealth Avenue, the last stop of the B-line of the MBTA, and is in close proximity to Boston College and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
It is worth your time to visit each of these neighborhoods and discover why so many people love living in Brighton and Allston!