The South End, with its blocks of Victorian brick row houses, upscale restaurants, art galleries and unexpected little parks, is one of the most popular places to live in Boston. It is filled with a diverse mix of ethnic, social and professional and blue-collar residents. Many creative people contribute to its thriving artistic center. Restored townhouses, condominium conversions and painstaking renovations have all contributed to the neighborhood’s turn-of-the century charm.
Just steps away from the hustle of Boston’s downtown and the Faneuil Hall marketplace lies “little Italy,” Boston’s oldest residential neighborhood. The small, densely packed Italian community is one of Boston’s most vital and friendly neighborhoods. It is home to grocery stores, bakeries, pizza shops and cappuccino cafes. The Freedom Trail winds through the streets, past the Paul Revere House, the only 17th century wooden home still standing in the United States. Nearby is the Old North Church, where the two lanterns hung in the steeple on April 18, 1775, starting Revere on his famous midnight ride.
The Back Bay is a man-made neighborhood, taking its name from the body of water that was filled to create one of the city’s most active and well-known districts. With boundaries roughly defined as Massachusetts Avenue on the west, Arlington Street on the east, the Charles River to the north, and the Prudential Center and Copley Place developments on the south. The Back Bay, which lies behind the Public Garden, holds some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston.
In addition to shopping along trendy Newbury Street, visitors to the Back Bay area are attracted to the beauty of the Commonwealth Mall, which is a park that runs down the center of Commonwealth Avenue.
A stroll down Newbury Street takes you from high fashion to hip ice cream parlors, and a walk back up Commonwealth Ave. affords some of the most elegant townhouses in the city. It is an elegant and exciting place to live and work. Housing selections here are wide, with apartments and condos, many of them carved from what were once single-family homes belonging to the country’s wealthiest residents. Other sights include the architectural landmarks in Copley Square, including the main branch of the Boston Public Library, and the serenity of the Esplanade along the Charles River.
The very name calls forth the essence of Boston: cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks lit by gas street lamps, historic homes and beautiful gardens enclosed by ivy-entwined fences. The wealthiest and most prominent members of Boston society settled Beacon Hill in the early 19th century, and it remains one of the most prestigious neighborhoods in the country. Among its founders was Charles Bullfinch, the renowned architect who designed the State House with a golden dome that continues to be Beacon Hill’s most distinguished landmark. Boston Common and the Public Gardens are located at the foot of the hill.
South Boston is a portrait of neighborhood pride. Its residents are famous for their love of and loyalty to their neighborhood. And it’s no wonder. Southie boasts miles of beaches and waterfront parks that culminate in Castle Island. This is a densely populated area, known for three deckers and row houses as well as single-family homes.
Charlestown Historic Time Line
- 1628: First settled.
- 1629: Mass. Bay Company obtains charter for Mass. Bay Colony to trade and colonize in New England.
- 1630: Mass. Bay Colony setted by approx. 1000 Puritan refugees from England under Governor John Winthrop.
- 1634: First Board of Selectmen organized in Charlestown (first recorded Town Meeting held in Dorchester in 1633).
- 1635: Government of Mass. Bay Colony establshed in the Great House at Market Square (now City Square). Nov. 2, 1637 John Harvard becomes a freeman of Charlestown, later serves as assistant pastor of the First Church of Charlestown – upon his death in 1638 Harvard leaves 1/2 his money along with his collection of classical and thoelogical literature to recently created school in neighboruing New Towne (now Cambridge) – founded in 1636, the school is renamed Harvard College in 1639
- 1678: First drydock in America built in Charlestown.
- 1684: Charter annuled and Royal Rule royal rule substituted.
- 1691: New charter granted in 1691, merging Plymouth Colony and Maine into the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
- June 17, 1775: Battle of Bunker Hill fought on Breed’s Hill – British troops burn much of Charlestown to the ground (population around 2000).
- 1791: Samuel F.B. Morse born in Charlestown. Later invents the electric telegraph and the Morse Code.
- 1826: Construction of Bunker Hill Monument begins.
- 1842: Bunker Hill Monument completed.
- 1847: Charlestown becomes a city.
- 1874: Charlestown annexed to Boston.
- 1800: Charlestown Navy Yard opens.
- 1803: Middlesex Canal opens, with Charlestown as its southern terminus, linking the Merrimack Valley with Boston Harbor.
- 1830 to 1870: Population triples to more than 28,000.
- World War II: Charlestown Navy Yard employs 47,000 workers.
The North End
Among the oldest residential neighborhoods in the city, the North End has been a haven for immigrants since its settling. In the early part of the 19th century, the area was dominated by a large number of Irish residents who built mansions and cottages along the narrow streets and alleys of the neighborhood. Italian immigrants began moving into the North End in the 1890’s, and since that time this smaller corner of the city has become known as the Italian section.
Occupying the area along the water’s edge westward to where the Central Artery separates it from the Financial District and the West End, the North End is a popular tourist destination. Some visitors are drawninto the neighborhood by the Freedom Trail, which includes several North End sites, but many are content to walk along the narrow streets, enjoying the breeze along the water, or shop for pastries along Hanover Street.
The Waterfront, which includes the residences and businesses along Commercial Street, also encompasses areas south of the traditional boundaries of the North End – Harbor Towers on India Wharf, the Residences at Rowes Wharf, and the New England Aquarium on Central Wharf.
Although parking is very limited in the area, the Waterfront is easily accessible via the MBTA’s Blue Line stop at the Aquarium. Close to the North End is the MBTA station at Haymarket Square, providing access to the Green and Orange Lines.
The Ladder District – situated between Boston Common, Avery St, Summer Street and Kingston St.
The Leather District – situated between Atlantic Ave, Kneeland St, Essex St and Route 93.
Bordered by North End, Waterfront, Beacon Hill, and Chinatown, the Downtown/Financial District is a bustling neighborhood of tourists and business oriented professionals.
The Downtown area, a mixture of skyscrapers and brick buildings can be seen everywhere as tourists flock to many popular attractions such as the ever famous Faneuil Hall Marketplace. Also called Quincy Market, Faneuil Hall comprises of a cluster of restored market buildings with many attractions such as restaurants, bars, and food courts. Other attractions include the New England Aquarium, the John Hancock Observatory, and the Boston Harbor Cruises.
The Financial District area is the banking, insurance, and legal center of the city. It gets busy around lunch time as many business men and women can be seen walking about the area.
Parking in the Downtown/Financial District is difficult to come by, but the neighborhood is easily accessible to the MBTA’s Green and Blue Lines as well as the MBTA buses.
Seaport: Otherwise known as the Innovation district
The Seaport is Boston’s hottest neighborhood — where modern architecture, new restaurants, active nightlife, urban waterfront parks, and vibrant cultural institutions come together with an energy and vitality unlike anywhere else in the city.
In a city famous for its tangled, colonial streets, the Seaport was designed and built for today — with wide sidewalks, bike lanes, public transit, highways, waterways and direct access to Logan International Airport. It’s an unmatched transit hub that’s only a short walk (or ride) to downtown Boston.
In the Seaport District, there are more waterfront restaurants, bars and nightlife than any other part of Boston.
Once a few more buildings are completed, the area will feel more residential than it currently does, and within a few more years there will be a marina, supermarket, mall with theatre etc.