The Back Bay lays claim to some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston. A stroll down Newbury Street will take you from haute couture to haute cuisine, offering exclusive fashion boutiques and elegant restaurants with world renowned chefs. Commonwealth Avenue has some of the most elegant townhouses in the city, along with the pedestrian-friendly Commonwealth Avenue Mall – a picturesque, tree-lined green, dotted with sculptures and park benches. Marlborough Street has become a lovely refuge from the bustling shops. Back Bay is also home to the Public Gardens, Boston Common, the Charles River Esplanade and the historic Boston Public Library.
Over the years, Bay Village has been known as the Church Street District, South Cove and Kerry Village. Many of the homes look like smaller versions of Beacon Hill townhouses because the craftspeople who built the Beacon Hill residences settled in this area and built local residences for their own use. It once housed major players in the film industry such as MGM and RKO. In 1983, the City Council enacted an ordinance forbidding exterior alterations in Bay Village without the approval of a Historic District Commission. It is a charming neighborhood and is convenient to Back Bay, Downtown and the South End.
The beacon on this hill that used to warn settlers about foreign invasions is long gone, and today Beacon Hill is a close-knit community in a downtown location. The neighborhood’s cobblestone streets and brick row houses directly border the Boston Common and the Public Garden, American’s first botanical garden. The gold leaf of the State House Rotunda adorns the hill and shines across the Common. The base of the hill is home to Charles Street, with its charming boutiques, antique shops, specialty grocery stores and romantic dining establishments. This historic neighborhood offers some of the finest classic Boston architecture, including Louisburg Square.
Brighton is similar to neighboring Allston, but with a little less activity. The neighborhood, which is primarily populated by graduate students, young professionals and families, consists of an intricate network of streets lined with houses and small apartment buildings. Local family businesses mix with national chains of pharmacies and banks along Brighton’s Washington Street, which runs straight through Brighton Center to Oak Square.
Charlestown, located at the head of Boston Harbor, is essentially a 19th century village with 16th century roots. Its historical heritage has given it a charming gas lit ambience that is appealing to young professionals who have recently moved to the neighborhood, joining families who have lived in Charlestown for generations. Charlestown’s streets are lined with townhouses and workers cottages, as well as modern condominiums that are either newly constructed or converted from historic buildings. The Navy Yard and the adjacent harborfront are also home to many condos and offices, as well as numerous businesses, Mass General Hospital, and of course an Urban National Park. All agree that it is convenient to take public transportation or Harbor Ferry to downtown Boston.
Chinatown is bordered by the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Boston Common. More than most other areas of Boston, it houses a wide range of restaurants, retail and office space. Residential properties co-exist with family owned and operated businesses, local institutions and some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country. With four community murals and old ads still adorning the sides of brick buildings, a stroll through Chinatown is a cultural and historical journey through the past. Chinatown is also unique in due to its easy access via MBTA (orange, green, red and commuter rail lines are nearby) and major roadways.
Dorchester is Boston’s largest neighborhood and also it’s oldest, founded a few months before the city itself. The neighborhood’s historical diversity is exhibited in its architecture, from the old Victorian homes of wealthy Bostonians to the multi-family dwellings of later groups of immigrants. Today, Dorchester retains its diversity. Its main thoroughfare, Dorchester Avenue, connects many close-knit neighborhoods and thriving commercial districts. Some of its well known neighborhoods are Savin Hill, Wellesley Park, Jones Hill, Ashmont and Lower Mills. Dorchester is also home to the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the John F. Kennedy Library.
Downtown / Midtown
Downtown is really the heart of the city. It is bordered by Back Bay, Beacon Hill and the North End/Waterfront. Many companies and agencies have their headquarters in the area. Boston City Hall and the State House are also located here. The area comes alive each weekday around noontime as thousands of corporate business folks and other downtown employees break for lunch.
East Boston is a very culturally diverse area. Though it is well known as home to the airport, East Boston is also full of wonderful stores and restaurants representing its different ethnic groups. Long-time Italian restaurants stand next to Brazilian cafes. Its housing is a mix of historic and new, with many three deckers lining its streets. In recent years, homeowners have been restoring the historic homes of the area to their former glory. It is accessible from the MBTA and was featured in HGTV as one of the most affordable Boston neighborhoods.
Tucked between the South End, Downtown, South Boston and the Seaport is Fort Point. Prior to the age of the automobile, Fort Point Channel was the critical link between docking ships and rail cars. Much of the land previously occupied by warehouses and manufacturing, has since been developed for residential use. Fort Point boasts magnificent lofts with open floor plans that feature elements of original architecture. Artist studios and modern furniture stores are now neighbored by some of the more trendy restaurants in the city.
Fenway / Kenmore
The Fenway, perhaps best known as the “home of the Red Sox”, is more than just a ballpark, it’s actually a dense urban neighborhood with a considerable amount of green space (the “Fens”). Although the Fenway consists of a large number of college students, it also contains a significant population of professionals. Landsdowne Street, bordering the Mass Pike on the North and Fenway Park on the South, is home to many of Boston’s most popular clubs and bars. Commonwealth Avenue offers a continuation of the townhouses of Back Bay. Fenway is also home to several universities, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. If you spend time in the Fenway, make sure to keep your eyes open for the occasional home run ball that clears the green monster.
Yes, Jamaica Plain is a part of the City of Boston; no, it is not its own town. Diversity is the strength of “JP,” to which it is lovingly referred by residents. This rich diversity has created a strong character of social awareness and community activity among neighbors and residents. Centre Street and South Street are home to lots of small neighborhood shops and restaurants. You can rent a sailboat on Jamaica Pond or count hundreds of varieties of trees in the Arnold Arboretum. Don’t forget to see exotic animals at the Franklin Park Zoo.
Mission Hill was once filled with farms and most of the breweries in Boston. Today, Mission Hill is an architectural landmark district with a combination of freestanding houses built by early wealthy landowners, blocks of traditional brick row houses, and many triple-deckers. Many families and some students and staff from the nearby Longwood Medical Area come to Mission Hill for the affordable rents. A diverse community in proximity to downtown, Mission Hill offers its residents an excellent view of the city from an historic neighborhood.
The North End is most famous for its plethora of Italian restaurants and strong ties to Italian roots. With a different Italian Festival every weekend throughout the summer, there is rarely a dull moment in the North End. It is also home to the Old North Church, made famous by Paul Revere. Several recently built mid-rise buildings offer tremendous views of Boston Harbor, as well as access to nearby comedy clubs, restaurants and pastry shops.
A drive through Roxbury is both a history lesson and a tour of a modern urban neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, Roxbury has long thrived on its proximity to downtown while retaining its neighborhood qualities. Home to a great number of parks, schools and churches, a visitor can see Boston’s history in the architecture and landmarks of the neighborhood. At the same time, Roxbury is a flourishing community with a multitude of housing options and a variety of ethnic shops.
Due to its prime location on Boston Harbor, the Seaport District of South Boston has seen revitalization over the last ten years. In addition to a variety of residential loft buildings, there are many new hotels and restaurants. It is also home to the Institute for Contemporary Art and the new Boston Convention Center. The Seaport offers outstanding views of the harbor, both of the sailboats on the water and the skyline of Downtown.
South Boston’s residents are famous in town for their love of and loyalty for their neighborhood. Southie, as it is referred to by locals, boasts miles of beaches and waterfront parks that culminate in Castle Island. There, visitors can enjoy the Revolutionary War era fort, get a bite to eat at Sullivan’s, play in the playground, fish off the pier or simply take a stroll. South Boston is densely populated and is known for triple-deckers and row houses, but there are single family homes in the neighborhood too. South Boston is home to a great variety of bars, pubs and new restaurants. Year round, a visitor can find residents strolling up and down Broadway doing their shopping and greeting their neighbors.
The South End, with its blocks of Victorian brick row houses, upscale restaurants, and art galleries, has become one of the most popular places to live in Boston. It is a classic mix of old and new, and many of the row houses underwent renovation starting in the 1960s. Today, the neighborhood is filled with a diverse mix of families and young professionals and houses a culturally diverse community and a thriving artistic center. Trendy restaurants brush shoulders with coffee shops and Mom & Pop grocery stores along Tremont Street and its side streets all the way down to Washington Street, SOWA, which is experiencing an artistic revival.
Next to the North End sits a historic collection of wharfs along Boston’s inner harbor, offering some of the most beautiful harbor views in the city. Many of the original buildings have been converted from warehouses into lofts and luxury condominiums. It is also home to the new Intercontinental hotel and luxury residences along with the newly created Rose Kennedy Walkway and landscaped pedestrian mall that now covers the depressed central artery, known as the Big Dig. Near to the North End, the Financial District, Haymarket and the Seaport, the Waterfront offers fine dining and shops along with splendid views of the ocean.
The West End, considerably impacted by Urban Renewal of the 1970s, is a small but significant community tucked behind Beacon Hill. Historically an ethnically diverse and vibrant neighborhood, the West End today is home to Massachusetts General Hospital. It is a popular residential neighborhood for medical staff from many nearby facilities, as well as professionals who work Downtown. It is home to Charles River Park, a high-rise residential community convenient to Beacon Hill, North End, Boston Garden and North Station.