Back Bay, now one of Boston’s most desirable neighborhoods, was once a large swamp. Here gorgeous townhouses and historical sites stand alongside some of the trendiest shopping in town, as well as two of the city’s tallest towers. Enjoy a relaxing afternoon visit to this modern, chic and walkable area.
As you walk around the area, notice how the layout makes sense. In 1856, Arthur Gilman proposed a neighborhood plan based on the French model, with a flat orientation and a logically ordered street grid. Names of cross-streets are in alphabetical order. Notice the wide tree-lined boulevards inspired by Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s then-recent renovation of Paris, and a variety of beautiful stone townhouses. Back Bay’s lovely streets are perfect for strolling, stopping occasionally to admire the architecture or chat with residents.
Explore the neighborhood by getting to know its two great walking streets. Newbury Street, once home to stables for the area’s houses, is now a shopping destination, with European-style boutiques and restaurants as well as the iconic music store, Newbury Comics. By contrast, Commonwealth Avenue is a grand boulevard in true Parisian style, lined with charming Victorian brownstones and street-side cafés.
The diverse flavors and styles of Back Bay and downtown Boston are proudly displayed at nearby Copley Square, the neighborhood’s small but lively plaza. Take a seat and look around at a real marvel of architectural coexistence. Admire the proud Trinity Church of 1877, then see it again sumptuously reflected in the mirrored glass of the giant John Hancock Tower. The nearby Boston Public Library announces Boston as the “Athens of America” with its magnificent façade. Copley is also home to a smart fountain and a twice-weekly farmers market.
Use the subway to easily access Back Bay. After your visit, continue exploring the city’s many attractions: The Boston Public Garden, the Charles River Esplanade and the Prudential Center are all just a short walk away. Alternatively, stay in the area to sample some of the finest eating and drinking Boston has to offer.