Back Bay Boston MA Neighborhood
Back Bay is an officially recognized neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It is most famous for its rows of Victorian brownstone homes — considered one of the best preserved examples of 19th-century urban design in the United States — as well as numerous architecturally significant individual buildings, and cultural institutions such as the Boston Public Library. It is also a fashionable shopping destination (especially Newbury and Boylston Streets, and the adjacent Prudential Center and Copley Place malls) and home to some of Boston’s tallest office buildings, the Hynes Convention Center, and numerous major hotels.
Architecturally the neighborhood is dominated by Victorian brownstone buildings in its northern, more residential portion; the southern part of the neighborhood is more commercial and is home to some of Boston’s tallest skyscrapers.
The Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay considers the neighborhood’s bounds to be “Charles River on the North; Arlington Street to Park Square on the East; Columbus Avenue to the New York New Haven and Hartford right-of-way (South of Stuart Street and Copley Place), Huntington Avenue, Dalton Street, and the Massachusetts Turnpike on the South; Charlesgate East on the West.”
The residential streets of the Back Bay are some of the best preserved examples of late 19th century urban architecture in the United States. Trinity Church, the Gibson House Museum, the Boston Public Library, and the John Hancock Tower are just some of the notable examples of architecture. The Back Bay is best known for its historic real estate and shopping. Most stores are located on Newbury and Boylston Streets, with the ends closer to the Boston Public Garden traditionally more expensive. There is no shortage of upscale shopping, boutiques, art galleries, and fabulous restaurants. The Back Bay is also the home to many luxury hotels that include the TAJ, The Colonnade Hotel, Westin Copley Place, Fairmont Copley Plaza; including the largest hotel in the city, the Marriott Copley. Brownstones are prominent in the Back Bay. A brownstone is a terrace or rowhouse in brown or red stone brick. This style of building, built mostly in the 1800s, is easy to recognize because of the distinct bowing of the buildings, the red brick, and the older streets they inhabit. They are sometimes called ‘rowhouses’ because developers often built a number of identical-looking brownstone units next to each other on the same street. Brownstone buildings are generally older than other types of housing, have beautiful architectural detailing, and are located in some of the most desirable neighborhoods of Boston. Most brownstones are between three and five stories tall
Back Bay is served by the Green Line’s Arlington, Copley, Hynes Convention Center, and Prudential stations, and the Orange Line’s Back Bay station (which is also an MBTA Commuter Rail and Amtrak station).
The Back Bay Fens is a large picturesque park on Back Bay’s south edge that forms part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace.
The Charles River Reservation runs between Storrow Drive and the Charles River at Back Bay’s northern border. Commonwealth Avenue, which runs through the center of Back Bay, has a large center mall.
Copley Square, named for painter John Singleton Copley, is a public square in southeast Back Bay.