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Blog :: 12-2013

Boston's North End

Boston North EndBostons North End is known for its Italian heritage and its narrow streets and brick buildings. It is the oldest neighborhood in the city, having been continuously inhabited since it was first settled in the 1630s. The North End takes its name from being located at the northern most tip of the Shawmut Peninsula and it was originally much smaller than it is today. As with many of the neighborhoods in Boston, with land at a premium waterways were filled in order to create more habitable space. Along the waterfront of the North End, commercial areas were increased with fill removed from Beacon Hill which at the time was being developed for residential uses. Many of the first residents of the North End were merchants and traders who purchased land close to the water and built houses, warehouses and wharves. As their wealth increased, many of the merchants built large homes in the area as the North End became a very fashionable place to live in the 18th century. After the American Revolution however, many of the wealthier members of society were drawn away from the waterfront and many of the large houses were either turned into multi-unit dwellings or torn down and replaced by row houses. As immigration increased in the 19th century, the North End became a haven for immigrants, and by 1855 almost half of the residents of the North End were Irish. Over the next 20 years as the Irish moved on, more and more Polish and Russian immigrants settled in the area. Then, in the late 1870s Italian immigration began, and by the 1920s an estimated 90% of the residents were Italian. Much of the Italian heritage of the neighborhood remains today, with the numerous Italian street festivals and the restaurants and bakeries being among the citys best. Over the last several years access to the area was difficult and the North End struggled through some of the major construction projects that have recently been completed. Now, the steel beams and girders that held up the Central Artery and separated the North End from the rest of downtown have been removed and replaced with green space known as the Rose Kennedy Greenway. Significant landmarks include Paul Reveres house, the Old North Church and Hanover Street.

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Boston's West End

Boston West End Located just north of Beacon Hill and west of the North End is Bostons West end. Initially settled in the late 18th and early 19th century after the neighboring North End and Beacon Hill began to get crowded, the West End eventually became home to many immigrants. Today the West End is best known for the controversial urban renewal plan that was implemented in the 1950s which resulted in over half of the neighborhood being completely leveled and rebuilt with residential high rises, shopping centers and parking lots. The central square at the time, Scollay Square, was leveled and became Government Center, home of Bostons architecturally controversial City Hall. There were some buildings that escaped the demolition including Massachusetts General Hospital, the Charles Street Jail which has since been repurposed into the Liberty Hotel, and the Bulfinch Triangle which is the section of older buildings located roughly by Canal, Market, Merrimac, and Causeway Streets. This neighborhood is also home to North Station, the train station that serves the suburbs north of Boston, and the TD Garden, home of the Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics. Over the last 20 years this area has again changed dramatically with the removal of the elevated trolley lines which ran over Causeway Street, as well as the completion of the The Central Artery/Tunnel Project (The Big Dig) in which Interstate 93 was rerouted underground and then over the Zakim Bridge.

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Boston's Fenway and Kenmore

[gallery] Central to Fenway is the Emerald Necklace, a system of parks that wind through the city and was a result of a plan to reshape the Charles River basin, primarily in the mud flats between Brookline and Boston. Over the years as Boston developed and the use of automobiles grew, sections of the necklace have been redesigned, and salt water no longer reaches the Fens, but many of the broad, arching bridges that aim to keep with Olmsteads initial vision remain. One of the largest neighborhoods of the city, the Fenway neighborhood is the bustling area that many of the local universities and colleges call home. Northeastern University, Boston University, Emerson College, Simmons, Wheelock College, Mass College of Pharmacy, the Berklee College of Music and the Boston Conservatory of Music, Massachusetts College of Art and Wentworth Institute of Technology, are all or at least partially located in the Fenway/Kenmore area. With such an eclectic group of students in the area, Fenway and Kenmore Square offer many diversions and entertainment options. Behind the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park, are the clubs of Landsdowne Street. Along some of the other main streets which include Brookline Avenue, Beacon Street, Boylston Street, and Huntington Avenue, there are many shops and restaurants. Located in the southwest corner of Fenway is the Longwood Medical Area. Longwood is home to some of the leading hospitals in the world, including The Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston Children's Hospital, Brigham and Women's Hospital and The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. For art lovers, Fenway is also the location of The Museum of Fine Arts and the beautiful flower-filled courtyard of the Isabella Stuart Gardiner Museum. Further east towards Downtown Boston is Symphony Hall, home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops.

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Boston's Waterfront District

[gallery]Bostons Waterfront District is located east of the Financial District, bordered on the North by Christopher Columbus Park and Seaport Boulevard to the South. Since the 1950s this section of the city had been separated from the rest of Boston proper by the elevated Central Artery. With the removal of the elevated artery and the completion of the 3.5 mile tunnel under the city, this area has again been opened up to the city and has become more inviting to foot traffic coming from the Financial District and Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market. With the harbor on one side and the Rose Kennedy Greenway on the other, the Waterfront offers magnificent views of the city and the Inner Harbor, the latter of which can be enjoyed on the Boston Harborwalk, the public walkway that winds along the waterfront. Some of the anchor institutions include The Boston Harbor Hotel, the New England Aquarium and Rowes Wharf. Residences in the Waterfront district include Lewis Wharf, Battery Wharf, The InterContinental Boston and Harbor Towers.

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Boston's Seaport District

[gallery] Bostons Seaport District is the section of the city just over the Fort Point Channel and adjacent to South Boston proper. This area has undergone a revitalization over the last two decades as many of the old warehouses and industrial spaces have been repurposed into lofts, offices, and in some cases, taken down and replaced with new structures. An initial push from the arts community helped to start the transformation in the Fort Point section of the Seaport (a few blocks adjacent to the Fort Port Channel). An area of the city once known for its shipping, fishing and other industrial uses, and then later known for its seemingly endless parking lots and urban decay, is now growing and thriving. With the completion of the Big Dig and the removal of the elevated Central Artery, the Seaport feels much more a part of Downtown Boston, and developers have been eager to capitalize on the spectacular views of the city skyline as well as the waterfront itself. Major hotels have sprung up over in the last 15 years including The Seaport Boston, the Westin Boston Waterfront, and the Renaissance Boston Waterfront, and cultural destinations have followed. Key attractions in the area include the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), the Bank of America Pavilion and the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Residential developments include Fort Point Place, 22 Liberty Fan Pier, The Macallen Building and Channel Center.

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Boston's Beacon Hill

[gallery] Originally one of three peaks located in the western section of Boston, Beacon Hill was initially used for grazing and for military drills. As the residential areas surrounding the peaks became more crowded, a group known as the Mount Vernon Proprietors formed and purchased 19 acres of land, many from the painter John Singleton Copley, with the idea of creating a new, prestigious residential district. Construction began in 1799, and through the early to mid-1800s many of the buildings lining the hilly streets of Beacon Hill were constructed. As the house lots became more desirable and scarce, lots were subdivided and made into attached homes. The centerpiece of Beacon Hill is the Charles Bulfinch designed Massachusetts State House. The design was much admired across the United States, and made Bulfinch a major influence in early American architecture. One of the most prestigious addresses in Boston is in the block known as Louisburg Square. Located at the top of Mount Vernon Street in Beacon Hill, the houses on the Square surround a small, private park and feature brick houses with bow fronts. Famous residents of Beacon Hill in the 19th century included Charles Bulfinch, painter John Singleton Copley, and Louisa May Alcott. Current day Beacon Hill features a mix of stately townhouses, fashionable shops and tempting cafes.

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Boston's Leather District

Boston's Leather District

Located between Chinatown, Downtown and South Station, the Leather District is a two block section of the city and one of the Bostons newer distinct neighborhoods. The Leather District is comprised of a number of buildings previously used for leather production, which have been re-developed for new commercial and residential uses. Many of the buildings offer open, loft-style units and they offer good access to downtown, the Rose Kennedy Greenway and the many theaters and restaurants in the area.

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Midtown Boston

[gallery] Bostons Midtown is located just to the east of the Boston Common and includes the Theater District and the shopping Hub known as Downtown Crossing. For decades Downtown Crossing has been a major shopping destination with large department stores as anchor tenants. Two of the most prominent and iconic stores were Filenes and Jordan Marsh, both of which have since closed. In recent years, Suffolk University has been a major contributor to the re-development of the area, building dormitories and academic buildings. In 2013 the 38 story Millennium Place opened at 580 Washington Street, offering luxury condominiums a block from the Common. Residences in this section of the city are in high demand due to their location in the heart of the city and their access to fine dining, the financial district and the arts. The majority of the residences in the area are luxury condominiums including the Ritz Carlton, Millennium Place, 45 Province Street, and The Residences at W.

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Boston's South End

[gallery] Bostons South End neighborhood is located north of the Roxbury neighborhood and west of the Back Bay. In 1801 architect Charles Bulfinch designed a new residential area that would be created by filling in the marshes and tidal flats along Boston Neck which was a narrow strip of land that connected Boston to what was then the town of Roxbury. Although Bulfinchs plan was not implemented, in 1849 his plans were refined and the city fill project began. The streets of the South End were designed in the style of 18th century English style consisting of blocks of townhouses overlooking small parks. Good examples of this design can be seen in the exclusive area of Union Park and in Worcester Park. Between 1850 and 1880 entire blocks of houses were built by speculative builders, many in a townhouse style, and some in the new French flat style in which all the rooms of the apartment were on the same floor. Known for its many jazz clubs in the 1950s, today the South End is one of Bostons most diverse neighborhoods, and is also known to have one of Bostons most popular and eclectic restaurant districts. Some key points of interest in the South End include The Cathedral of the Holy Cross, which was the largest Catholic church in the nation at the time of its dedication in 1875, and Restaurant Row, the heart of which lies on Tremont Street. Some of the luxury developments in the South End include The Modern, The Savoy Lofts, Atelier 505 and The Wilkes Passage Lofts.

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South Boston

[gallery] Once an Irish enclave and still the location of the St. Patricks Day Parade, South Boston is a neighborhood with a strong sense of community and neighborhood pride. Originally South Boston was a peninsula belonging to the then independent town of Dorchester. In the early 1800s a group of developers was able to convince the General Court of Massachusetts that the land should be annexed to Boston, and after broadening the land through landfill, South Boston began to take shape. As part of the annexation agreement land was set aside for streets, and other public uses, and the grid pattern centered around Broadway was designed. With the arrival of railroads and later the production demands of the Civil War, South Boston became an industrial leader in ship building, ironworks and other industries which helped drive the population of the neighborhood to the point where in 1855 it had more dwellings than any other ward in the city. As with many cities, dwellings were often single family residences. With the population increasing and space becoming scarce however, post-1860 many row houses were built, and during the late 1800s two family properties were gaining in popularity. By 1900 triple-deckers were some of the most popular types of properties being built in cities, and many of these houses are still seen throughout South Boston. In recent years South Boston has become a popular choice for young professionals with many multifamily dwellings being renovated and turned into condominiums, and redevelopment changing its Northern end, the Seaport District.

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