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Neighborhoods

The source of these descriptions is from the City of Boston's official Web site, www.cityofboston.gov, and the official Web site of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, www.mass.gov.

City of Boston Neighborhood Information

Allston

Once a home to stockyards, slaughterhouses, and meatpacking industries, Allston today is a thriving mecca of activity. Largely populated by students and young families, Allston caters to the individual looking for something different and cheap. It's hard to turn a corner in this neighborhood without running into a discount furniture or thrift store. Allston's Harvard Avenue boasts everything from upscale eateries and pool halls to local dives and mom-and-pop grocery stores. There's rarely a quiet moment in this neighborhood — everyone from students to the elderly traverse the streets of Allston through all hours of the day and night.

Arlington

Once a thriving agriculture and mill town, Arlington’s excellent location access to metropolitan Boston has made it a very desirable place to live. Its diverse population has demanded good schools and recreation facilities, which has made it attractive to families. Commercial development centers along Massachusetts Avenue, which traverses the Mill Brook valley. Residences are located on the flat former agricultural land in East Arlington or on the slopes on either side of the east-west Mass Ave. corridor.

Back Bay

The Back Bay, once a stagnant pool of water behind the Public Garden, now holds some of the most exclusive real estate in Boston. A stroll down Newbury Street will take you from high fashion to hip ice cream parlors, and a walk back up Commonwealth Avenue will let you take in some of the most elegant townhouses in the city. With its rows of historic homes and a vibrant commercial district to boot, Back Bay is an exciting place to live.

Beacon Hill

The beacon on this hill that used to warn settlers about foreign invasions is long gone, and today Beacon Hill is a close-knit community in a downtown location. The neighborhood's cobblestone streets and brick rowhouses directly border the Boston Common and Public Garden, America's first botanical garden. The gold leaf of the State House rotunda adorns the hill and shines across the Common. A great place for families, this historic neighborhood is a blend of classic Boston architecture and expansive green space.

Boston Downtown

Downtown is the heart of the city. Many companies and agencies have their headquarters in the area, and City Hall and the State House are also located here. The area comes alive each weekday around noontime as thousands of corporate employees break for lunch and do some quick shopping or run errands.

Brighton

Brighton, like neighboring Allston, was home to agricultural plots and stockyards in post-colonial days. The extension of streetcar lines in the 1800s, however, encouraged residential growth, and soon houses and apartments were built across the neighborhood. Unlike Allston today, Brighton is fairly quiet, especially at night. The neighborhood, which is primarily populated by graduate students, young professionals, and families, consists of an intricate network of streets lined with houses and small apartment buildings. Local family businesses mix with national chains of pharmacies and banks along Brighton's main drag, Washington Street, which runs straight through Brighton Center to Oak Square.

Brookline

Cheek to jowl with Boston, Brookline has managed to maintain its own identity. It has a unique mixture of busy streets and rolling countryside, upscale shops and village pubs, gracious apartment buildings and large estates, and is home for legions of academic and scientific professionals, who work at the nearby medical centers in Boston.

Cambridge

Cambridge is a unique community with a strong mix of cultural and social diversity, intellectual vitality, and technological innovation. College students from around the world study at Harvard, Radcliffe, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Lesley University. In addition to the universities, Cambridge boasts the famous cultural and shopping center of Harvard Square.

Charlestown

The traditional home of employees at the now-decommissioned Navy Yard, Charlestown has experienced a shift in its population and industry. The Navy Yard, a national historic landmark, has been turned into residential and office space, and an increasing number of young professionals are joining the families who have lived in the area for years. These newcomers are discovering Charlestown's renovated rowhouses and its accessibility to downtown Boston and the North End. Many residents walk to work in downtown or simply down to the nearby waterfront, both of which are only five minutes away.

Chinatown

Chinatown may have been built on a landfill, but you'd never know it while walking around this neighborhood. What identifies this area of the city is the truly mixed uses of land. Residential properties co-exist with family-owned and -operated businesses, local institutions, and, of course, some of the best Chinese restaurants in the country. With four community murals and old ads still adorning the sides of brick buildings, a walk through Chinatown is also unique. The neighborhood is accessible via several nearby MBTA stations and major roadways.

Dorchester

Dorchester is Boston's largest neighborhood and also its oldest, founded a few months before the city itself. The neighborhood's historical diversity is exhibited in its architecture, from the old Victorian homes of wealthy Bostonians to the multifamily dwellings of later groups of immigrants. Today, Dorchester retains its diversity. Its main thoroughfare, Dorchester Avenue, connects many close-knit neighborhoods and thriving commercial districts of all kinds. Dorchester is also home to the University of Massachusetts at Boston and the John F. Kennedy Library.

East Boston

A lot of neighborhoods claim to be diverse, but East Boston has always been a neighborhood of immigrants. In recent years, it has become home to people from all over South America and Central America as well as Southeast Asia, Haiti, and Eastern Europe. Though it is well known as home to the airport, East Boston is full of wonderful stores and restaurants representing its different ethnic groups. Long-time Italian restaurants stand next to Brazilian cafés. Its housing is a mix of historic and new, with many three-deckers lining its streets. In recent years, homeowners have been restoring the historic homes of the area to their former glory.

Fenway/Kenmore

The Fenway, perhaps best known as the home for the boys of summer, is more than just a ballpark. It is actually a dense urban neighborhood with a considerable amount of green space (the Fens). Although the Fenway consists of a large number of college students, it also contains a significant population of professionals, young and old. The famous (or infamous) Landsdowne Street, bordering the Massachusetts Turnpike on the north and Fenway Park on the south, is home to many of Boston's most popular clubs and watering holes. If you travel the street, however, keep your eyes open for the occasional home-run ball that clears the Green Monster. Click HERE for a brochure of the Fenway Neighborhood.

Hyde Park

Hyde Park is a true merger of city life and suburban life. Hyde Park prides itself on its tremendous amount of useful, open space including the George Wright Golf Course, but it also retains the city's character in its people and community institutions. Hyde Park is also the place Boston Mayor Thomas Menino calls home.

Jamaica Plain

Yes, Jamaica Plain is a part of the city of Boston; no, it is not its own town. Diversity is the strength of J.P., to which it is lovingly referred as by residents. Every ethnicity and socioeconomic stratum is well represented in this neighborhood sandwiched primarily between Roxbury and Brookline (Brookline is its own town.). The rich diversity in J.P. has created a strong character of social awareness and tolerance among neighbors and residents.

Mattapan

Mattapan was annexed to Boston in 1870 as part of Dorchester. Like other neighborhoods of the time, Mattapan developed as the railroads and streetcars made downtown Boston accessible. Predominately residential, Mattapan is home to a mix of single homes as well as two- and three-family houses. Mattapan Square, where Blue Hill Avenue, River Street and Cummins Highway meet, is the commercial heart of the neighborhood.

Mission Hill

Once filled with farms and most of the breweries in Boston, Mission Hill today is an architectural landmark district with a combination of freestanding houses built by early wealthy landowners, blocks of traditional brick rowhouses and many three-deckers. Many families and some students and staff from the nearby Longwood medical area come to Mission Hill for the affordable rents. A diverse community in proximity to downtown, Mission Hill offers its residents an excellent view of the city from a historic neighborhood.

North End

How many other big cities can boast having a neighborhood where residents walk the streets, visiting local fruit stores, butcher shops, and corner markets for their groceries? The North End is most famous for its plethora of Italian restaurants and strong ties to Italian roots. With a different Italian festival every weekend throughout the summer, there is rarely a dull moment in the North End. Need another selling point? The North End is considered one of the safest neighborhoods in Boston.

Roslindale

Roslindale, sometimes referred to as Rosinopoulos by residents for its large Greek population, began as a classic streetcar suburb. Today, one of the most unique characteristics of the area is the sheer number of people from all races, backgrounds, and countries who call Roslindale home. Roslindale Square, the heart of the neighborhood, is the subject of a National Trust for Historic Preservation Main Street award. It is considered to be an example of the value of historic and aesthetic preservation in economic revitalization.

Roxbury

A drive through Roxbury is both a history lesson and a tour of a modern urban neighborhood. One of the oldest neighborhoods in Boston, Roxbury has long thrived on its proximity to downtown while retaining its neighborhood qualities. Home to a great number of parks, schools, and churches, a visitor can see Boston's history in the architecture and landmarks of the neighborhood. At the same time, Roxbury is a thriving community with a multitude of housing options and a variety of ethnic shops.

Somerville

The city of Somerville is a small business and residential haven of approximately 4 square miles. It is ideally located adjacent to Boston, 1.5 miles from the city's financial and commercial districts. Somerville can aptly be described as a gateway to eastern Massachusetts. Immediate access is available to routes 1, 2, 16, 28, 38, 90 and 128, and to Interstates 93 and 95. Somerville is also just 3.5 miles from Boston's Logan International Airport. The T.F. Green Airport in Providence is less than an hour away. Somerville is extremely accessible to public transportation. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subway service is easily available throughout the city and offers access to Boston and other communities. In addition, 14 different bus lines travel through the city

South Boston

If the dictionary had a listing for neighborhood pride, there would be a picture of South Boston next to it. Its residents are famous in town for their love of and loyalty to their neighborhood. And it's no wonder. South boasts miles of beaches and waterfront parks that culminate in Castle Island. There, visitors can enjoy the Revolutionary War era fort, get a bite to eat at Sullivan's, play in the playground, fish off the pier, or simply take a stroll. South Boston is densely populated, known for three-deckers and rowhouses; there are single-family homes in the neighborhood too. It is also home to a great variety of bars and pubs and, more recently, has been the location for some new restaurants. Year round, a visitor can find residents strolling up and down Broadway doing their shopping and greeting their neighbors.

South End

The South End, with its blocks of Victorian brick row houses, upscale restaurants and art galleries, is swiftly becoming one of the most popular places to live in Boston. Many of the row houses underwent renovation starting in the 1960s and today the neighborhood is filled with a diverse mix of families, young professionals, a gay and lesbian community, and a thriving artistic center. Trendy restaurants brush shoulders with coffee shops and mom-and-pop grocery stores along Tremont Street and its side streets all the way down to Washington Street, which is experiencing an artistic revival.

West Roxbury

Originally part of the town of Roxbury, West Roxbury formed its own government in 1851 and was annexed by Boston in 1874. Bordered by Roslindale and Hyde Park, West Roxbury's main thoroughfare is Centre Street, lined with local restaurants and commercial establishments. Today, the neighborhood's tree-lined streets and mostly single-family homes give it a suburban feel in an urban setting. Life in the neighborhood centers on political and civic activism as well as local parishes and youth athletic leagues.

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