Beacon Hill & Charles Street, Boston
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Beacon Hill is a historic and the most affluent District of Boston and is where many of the Rich and Famous Bostonians Live (Think Upper East Side of Manhattan!). The District is known for it's narrow and elevated street and rows upon rows of old style federal houses plus the classical gas lit lamps in some areas and the occasional brick roads. The District faces the Boston Common and Public Garden in One Side and houses Bull & Finch Pub (Cheers), The Massachussets State House, Bowdoin College and many of the Famous Boston Hospitals which are famous worldwide.
Nearest MBTA are Bowdoin Station and Park Street Station
Bus Trolley Stops at Bull & Finch Bar and Massachussetts State House.
according to wikipedia:
Beacon Hill is bounded by Storrow Drive, and Cambridge, Bowdoin, Park and Beacon Streets. It is about one mile square, and situated along the riverfront of the Charles River Esplanade to the west, just north of Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. The block bounded by Beacon, Tremont and Park Streets is included as well. Beacon Hill has three sections: the south slope, the north slope and "Flat of the Hill", which is a level neighborhood built on landfill. It is west of Charles Street and between Beacon Street and Cambridge Street.
Located in the center of the Shawmut Peninsula, the area originally had three hills, Beacon Hill and two others nearby; Pemberton Hill and Mount Vernon were leveled for Beacon Hill development.[nb 1] Between 1807 and 1832 Beacon Hill was reduced from 138 feet in elevation to 80 feet. The shoreline and bodies of water such as the Mill Pond had a "massive filling", increasing Boston's land mass by 150%. Charles Street was one of the new roads created from the project.
Before the hill was reduced substantially, Beacon Hill was located just behind the current site of the Massachusetts State House.
Boston was once called Trimountaine after the three hills which dominated the peninsula. Beacon Hill was the highest of these, so named because of the beacon that was placed on its summit to warn the citizens of attack. It was once so high it looked down upon the State Building, where now they sit side by side.
Beacon Hill is intrinsically Boston. The red brick turn of the century buildings, the narrow tree lined streets, the cobbled stones and the gas lamps are all symbols of Boston's most prestigious district. It's out of place in the centre of such a big, sprawling modern city, but that's part of its charm. Stepping off Beacon Street and up the hill through the narrow streets is like stepping back in time, even stepping across to a different continent, more old Europe than flashy new America.
It's not a big space, combined with the Back Bay the population is around 20,000 people. Some of the highlights are the broad Charles Street with its laid back cafe culture, the claustrophobic little Acorn Street with its creeping vines, and the elegant and sombre Louisberg Square.
At one point, this street has earned the honor as "the most civilized street in America" (always thought it was Sesame Street when I was a kid!). The evidence is clear: graceful homes, pretty facades, well-tended gardens, flower pots all abloom - all pointing to old rich money. Within this area, the most exclusive is Louisburg Square, which until this day remains as one of Boston's most sought after addresses.
Charles St is Beacon Hill's main street and is worth a stroll. Catering mainly to the surrounding affluent neighborhood are wonderful deli shops such as De Luca's, a Boston institution, antique stores and quaint cafes and restaurants. The area is also a treasure trove for fans of the famous local architectural icon, Charles Bulfinch (the man behind the nearby State House, among others), who designed many of the patrician homes on Beacon Hill.
Beacon Hill is one of Boston's historic neighborhoods and most expensive. While wandering Beacon Hill you notice the narrow streets and lines of Federal style row houses.
The most notable building of Beacon Hill is the State House with it's large Golden Dome.
At one point in its history, Boston was referred to as “Athens” because of the concentration of well-respected cultural and intellectual institutions. One such institution is the Boston Athenaeum, which, despite the fact that it is not a major tourist attraction, is still a centre of the city’s cultural life. The Athenaeum is located steps from the Massachusetts State House and is essential a specialized collection of various artistic and intellectual works. From time to time, special exhibits of paintings or sculpture are organized in the Athenaeum, and the fifth-floor library is fabled to hold a large number of rare works not found elsewhere in North America. The institution itself was founded in 1807, but the current building, designed by Cabot, dates from 1849. The library holds 700 000 books, including about half of George Washington’s personal library. Visits to the Athenaeum are permitted and, I gather, free. The exhibit that was arranged on the first floor didn’t appeal to me, so I didn’t visit it, but I gather that those with a keen interest is rare and antique books will be very pleased by a trip to the Athenaeum.
The first Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was established in Charlestown, north of the Charles River, but, obviously, once Boston was named the capital of the Commonwealth, the institution was moved to its current location at the intersection of Tremont, Court and Cambridge streets. The MSJC was first established in 1692 after the Salem Witch Trials (there was, obviously, a need for greater appellate capacity after so many people were sentenced to be burned), and that means that it is the longest functioning appellate court in the Western Hemisphere. The current building is an interesting example of neo-Classical architecture among the mammoth structures of Boston’s administrative centre. The Court’s current notoriety comes from its perceived ultra-liberal stance on a number of issues (like gay marriage). Perhaps because of this, tours and unguided visits aren’t exactly permissible, but it does add to the retinue of important institutions to visit on your trip to Boston.
This is an area not very long of deep. Bordered by Beacon and Cambridge Streets, it is a residential neighborhood with up and down slightly steep mounds. The brick fronts are nice to stroll through and the streets are quite with every day living going on. CAmbridge is the commercial avenue with upscale shops and restaurants. Beacon is bordered by Boston Commons park.
A couple of sites in the area is Acorn St, small picturesque, Charles St meeting Hall; now an office building and coffee shop, and a few houses of vintage Brownstone/brick period.
The walk through the side streets is interesting. The area is mostly urban, and not much shopping of shops except for on Cambridge and Beacon Streets. Then it gets commercial. There are antique shops. Most is styled for more upscale.
Beacon Hill was my favorite neighborhood in Boston. It's quaint, pretty and bustling in some places but still and serene in others. Really a magical little area.
There are quite a few historic homes and museums to see in the neighborhood, and shopping along Charles Street is certainly something to do, but it's important to just relax, walk around and enjoy your surroundings.
So you've been walking around Beacon Hill, trying to peak through the windows, imagining what life must have been like in this fancy area back in the 19th century? Well, the Nichols House Museum invites you in! This four-story townhouse was built in 1804, and it is believed to have been designed by Beacon Hill architect Charles Bulfinch. The house eventually became the property of the Nichols family and their daughter Rose (1872-1960) was to live in the house until her death, and shortly thereafter the house became a museum.
Every piece of furniture that is found in the museum today belonged to the Nichols family. Interestingly enough, they collected European and American antiques and art, so their collection gives a good idea of what was considered to be "of good taste" to an upper-class Bostonian family. A visit to the museum also allows you to find out more about the life of Miss Rose Nichols, a women's rights activist who chose to have a career instead of getting married, and became a famous landscape designer. A very interesting visit!
The Nichols House Museum is open from Tuesday to Saturday, with guided tours running every half hour between 12 noon and 4:00 pm. Admission: $7.
For most of the 19th century, Beacon Hill was Boston's most wealthy and popular neighborhood - even today it remains one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the United States. One of the reasons that can explain its lasting popularity is that a lot of attention was paid to architectural details during the construction of the streets and houses of Beacon Hill, with an effort to make it as eye-pleasing as possible. As a result, Mt. Vernon Street was once described by novelist Henry James as "the only respectable street in America", and he along with many other writers chose to live in this area of the city. It is possible to go on a guided walking tour of the Beacon Hill area (http://www.historictours.com/boston/), which will take you to some of Beacon Hill's most famous spots, including Acorn Street, one of the most photographed streets in Boston, and Louisburg Square, home to Senator John Kerry.
Charles St. is a great place to go shopping or antiquing, or to grab a coffee and a bite to eat at a bakery or cafe! The street is lined with real gas lamps and plenty of charming shops. It also is home to one of the few hardware stores in the downtown area! Handy for lunchtime errands!
Asher Benjamin designed this federal building which was built in 1807 as served as the Third Baptist Church. The church's racial segregation policy was challenged in 1835 by Thomas Gilbert who brought his African-American friends to sit with him in his front row pew. The firestorm that resulted led to the founding of the Free Baptist Church which was the first racially integrated church in the U.S.
In the mid-1800s, the Meeting House provided a forum from which the likes of Sojourner Truth, Fredrick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Harriet Tubman preached for the abolition of slavery.