Beacon Hill & Charles Street, Boston
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.
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.
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!
Beacon Hill is undoubtedly one of the most affleuntial addresses in all of Boston, currently home to Senator and former presidential candidate, John Kerry. However it was settled in the early 19th century by free African-Americans who led early civil rights battles and had a hand in the abolition of slavery in the mid-1800s. It was one of the northern stops on the infamous Underground Railroad by which slaves escaped from the south to be free in the north. It is now the home to many beautiful brick townhomes and tree-lined streets.
Take a stroll through the residential streets on a spring day and relax. Be sure to walk down one of the most scenic streets, cobblestoned Acorn Street and stop to admire the townhomes surrounding Louisburg Square including a former residence of American author Louisa May Alcott and the current residence of the aforementioned senator. Visit the Museum of African American History and get a self-guided walking map of the Black Freedom Trail. End your walk amongst the shops and restaurants along Charles Street.
Beacon Hill is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Boston, known for its architecture and lay-out. Here you will find brick row houses with beautiful doors and decorative iron work. Many notable Americans have once lived here and it is still a place for the upper class. It's a nice area to stroll along the narrow streets with brick sidewalks and gas lamps. Don't miss Acorn street and Louisburg Square. However, I must admit that the homogenous buildings bored me after a while.
Think of a street scene in Boston, and the image that will probably come to mind is narrow, gas lit, cobblestone streets, full of historic brick buildings. That describes Beacon Hill perfectly. It is without a doubt the most historic and visually pleasing neighborhood in Boston. It is also the most exclusive and upscale, which carries with it a certain snobbyness. I find the North End to be a more interesting neighborhood. But Beacon Hill has plenty going for it and definately deserves a look.
The best thing you can do is pick up the Black Heritage Trail brochure from the National Park Visitor Center along the Freedom Trail. It outlines a walking tour that showcases the major historic buildings in Beacon Hill. It was the first neighborhood in America that was predominantly occupied by middle class Blacks, going back to the 1790's. The Abolitionist Movement in the decades before the Civil War was especially strong here.
There are a number of other sites besides the Black Heritage Trail that are worth seeing. Mt. Vernon Street is an interesting street to walk along. It will take you to Louisburg Square, the most expensive homes in Boston are here. Just south of there is Acorn Street. It bills itself as the most photographed street in America. It is a pretty looking narrow cobblestoned lane. But I think there are other streets that are just as interesting. Cedar Lane Way is one of them.
When you're done exploring head to Charles Street. It is the main shopping drag in Beacon Hill. Many of the businesses along Charles Street have interesting signs hanging outside their door. It's a quaint reminder when the shoemaker would have a shoe hanging outside his shop.
With some of the most beautiful row homes in all of Boston, I am sure this is the vision you have when you think of Boston (it should be anyway).
Beacon Hill is loaded with quaint little shops and some fantastic restaurants. You can also find fruit and vegtable stands and many specialty shops.
Wander around on a beautiful Sunday and find yourself by Boston Gardens.
As Boston is a city to simply walk round, one of the nicest areas is Beacon Hill. It's certainly one of the most affluent and prestigious addresses in the city - and amazingly, it's only a couple of miles from the Downtown area. Heaps of distinguished 19th century town houses, narrow streets (head for Acorn St, Boston's most photographed strteet), window boxes, ivy-clad brickwork and little cafes. As it's just north of Boston Common and close to the Freedom Trail, easily reachable for a little wander.