Beacon Hill & Charles Street, Boston
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.
I love Beacon Hill. As a matter of fact, just as soon as I finish my stint in Europe I plan on relocating there for half of the year while I do my writing. It dates back to the early 19th century and nearly all of the houses are either Federal, Victorian or Georgian styles. It is a National Historic District and extraordinarily quiet to be in downtown Boston. As you can see from my front page, I have an entire album dedicated to the area. I love to just walk around and take pictures. If you walk slowly and look hard you can see tiny little gardens stuck here and there throughout the neighborhood. This is my favorite part. Some are no bigger than the interior of my car and some are in obscure places, like balconies, but they all fascinate me.
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 Street is a quaint little road lined with Antique and Specialty shops. We visited a great little Wine and Cheese store called DeLuca's. A great place to window shop or maybe even pick up a special souvenier.
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.
Before you ever come to Boston, I'm betting that Beacon Hill is how you picture the whole place to look. It's really just the most beautiful neighborhood in the city.
However, I'd like to throw my 2 cents in and criticize it for being too homogenous. Again, typical Boston!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Robert Gould Shaw was a Boston native and the commander of the first all African-American infantry unit that fought for the Union Army during the Civil War (1861-1865). Shaw the the 54th Massachusetts were the focus of the movie Glory starring Matthew Broderick as Shaw and also starring Denzel Washington and Morgan Freeman. Located directly across Beacon Street from the State House, the bronze bas-relief was sculpted by Augustus St. Gaudens. Be sure to read the inscription on the Boston Common side of the memorial.
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.
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.