After following Boston’s Freedom Trail of early American history and strolling through Boston Common, then taking in the sights and smells of Boston’s Chinatown and Little Italy districts, seeing some of its smaller neighbourhoods sounded just right. I picked Bay Village and Back Bay.
From Boston Common we walked down Park Plaza, crossed Stuart Street, and visited the Edgar Allen Poe Statue. Poe was born in this neighbourhood now known as Bay Village.
Bay Village is Boston’s tiniest official neighbourhood, with just twelve blocks across 25 acres, and has Chinatown as its eastern border.
Poe’s birthplace is a bit further down Stuart Street at Carver Street, a site that no longer exists. His parents moved him abroad when he was a baby, but he returned to Boston when he was 18.
Many of his most beloved poems and stories were written here in Boston, despite endless clashing with other Boston writers of the time.
Back to Stuart Street, we walked westward past Statler Park. I was enamoured by all the different architectural features, especially the brick rowhouses recalling Boston’s famous Beacon Hill neighbourhood.
I later learned that this is because many of the designers of Beacon Hill homes lived in Bay Village, and often built smaller versions for their own families.
This is such a beautiful area with gas lamps, Art Deco details, fountains, and little gardens all over the place. Many of the homes here were elevated after a massive sewer drainage disaster in the 1860s, and current residents use the ground level to plant gardens.
I was intent on finding the Saunders Castle, but we noticed an interesting new restaurant on the way.
We took a peek inside Nusr-Et, a high-end Turkish Steakhouse fronted by none other than Mr. Salt Bae himself, Chef Nusret Gökçe. You know the sassy guy sprinkling salt down his arm and over his dishes that you keep seeing in all the memes?
I read so many horrible reviews about this particular location that it is almost as comical as his salting method, but it was a super cool thing to stumble into.
Two of the most notorious social places in Bay Village are the historic Jacque’s Cabaret and Mike & Patty’s. Restaurants like Mooncusser, Basile, Citrus & Salt, and Mistral along Arlington Street are some of the newer highlights in this relatively quiet, residential community.
Next we found the Saunders Castle at Park Plaza, formerly the Armory of the First Corps of Cadets. It was constructed in the Romanesque Revival castle style and stands in stark contrast to other buildings nearby.
It is currently functioning as a wedding/event venue, but I would love to see it become a museum or historical center.
On the other side of Arlington Street, the Back Bay neighbourhood begins. It is located directly south of the Charles River, with Massachusetts Avenue as its western border and Boston Common to the east.
Back Bay hosts a series of parks that include Wellington Common, Blackwood-Claremont Garden, Greenwich Cumberland Garden, Titus Sparrow Park, Braddock Park Garden, Follen Garden, and Carleton Court Dog Park.
The impressive Copley Square of Back Bay was formerly known as Art Square due to the plethora of art, culture, education, and medicine institutions, as well as the sculpture, landscaping, and unique facades it boasts.
Copley Square’s most prominent features are the Boston Trinity Church, the John Hancock Tower, Boston Public Library, and the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.
Trinity Church, like the Saunders Castle, is a Romanesque Revival structure built in 1877 and it has an active congregation.
The sleek and modern John Hancock Tower was built a whole century later and is the tallest building in all of New England, towering at almost 800 feet high with sixty stories.
Boston Public Library left us speechless.
The outside of the McKim building is covered in gothic wrought iron gates and candelabras, flags, and larger than life statues.
Inside, the Boston Public Library is more like an art museum full of frescos, carved marble, intricate ceiling tiles, and more statues. It was founded in 1848 and is the third-largest public library in the country.
My favourite part was a large study upstairs called Bates Hall, with case after case of historic and antique books.
The courtyard has a fountain and bistro tables dotting its garden.
The newest side of the library is the Johnson Building, opened in 1972. It has glass doors, modern books, checkout counters, study areas, and looks a lot more like a typical public library.
Copley Square also has some lovely fountains and a park connecting the buildings, and there are plaques and monuments all over the place that tell about significant events and figures of the area.
In warmer months, Boston hosts a farmers market here, and there are other seasonal and holiday festivals year round.
Copley Square’s namesake is painter John Singleton Copley, featured below.
The Old South Church is beautiful, and currently being restored, but it also has an active congregation.
Newbury Street was our next stop.
Newbury Street is Boston’s most photographed street, and it spans north of Back Bay all the way from Boston Common to Fenway Park.
It is packed with row houses that have been converted into retail and commercial spaces for restaurants, specialty shops, salons, cafés, bakeries, and bars.
Deluca’s Market, Pavement Coffeehouse complex, Tea Forte, Thinking Cup, and Teuscher are just a few of the places we saw or visited to pick up sweets and coffees.
More interesting, and somewhat strange sites, in the Back Bay neighbourhood include the Goethe Institute, the kooky Christian Science Mary Baker Eddy Library and its Mapparium, the Skywalk Observatory, and several upscale chains like Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton, and Neiman Marcus.
We followed Newbury over to Boylston and Back Bay Fens with its multitude of monuments, war memorials, gardens, Fenway Garden Society, the James P. Kelleher Rose Garden, Japanese Bell, and other features.
Eventually we made our way to Landsdowne Street and the famous Fenway Park/Stadium.
This place is a nightlife and entertainment district geared toward baseball fans, but there is a lot more to it.
Lansdowne Street is a short segment that runs parallel to Newbury Street, just south of it across I-90. There are several restaurants and pubs on either side of it, as it runs alongside the Fenway Park.
Landsdowne Pub is the most popular spot, and we were glad to down a few Narragansetts.
Loretta’s Last Call & the Lucky Strike Bowling arena are adorable, and other places Green Monster, House of Blues, Foundation Room, Cask N Flagon, and Game On Tavern have something for everyone.
If you walk down Brookline and then Boylston streets, you will find additional restaurants with “game day food” and sausage stands, burger joints, wings, pizza, and Sox merchandise shops.
The Beacon Hill neighbourhood is characterized by row houses, narrow cobblestone streets, urban gardens, and Federalist/Victorian architecture.
It is an 1800s era district that takes up around half a square mile, and some of its star attractions are the Boston Athenaeum and picturesque Acorn Street.
Unfortunately we did not have much time to explore the Beacon Hill neighbourhood during this trip, but we did stay a few nights in the Beacon Inn.
Our feet were killing us and we did not want to part from the comfort of our gigantic beds, so we all ordered late night takeout from Oli Taki Korean Fusion. They have an excellent collection of weirdly delicious small bites like these fried kimchi and cheesy rice balls.
I sort of got obsessed with these things and may have ordered them more than one night…
They also have sushi made with spam and various eggroll/empanada type snacks. When in Rome, man.
I plan to see more of Beacon Hill, Kenmore, Fenway, and other Boston neighbourhoods next time we visit. In the area for a while? Follow us to Chinatown, Little Italy, & the Freedom Trail!
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