Exploring Beacon Hill: Boston, Massachusetts’ Historic Neighborhood

So you’ve just acquired your real estate license in the state of Massachusetts and now you’re looking to brush up on your knowledge of Boston’s famous neighborhoods and suburbs? Well look no further. Today we’re going to take a look at the historic Boston subdivision, Beacon Hill.

Exploring Cozy Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is a 19th-century residential neighborhood located to the north of the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden. It is by all means the exception to the apparent rule of city life: that it’s isolating and anonymous by nature. This charming enclave, home to nearly 10,000 people, is more a village than an urban environment. Here, neighbors know neighbors, residents take walks down cozy cobblestone streets, and not to mention the Hill’s commercial streets play host to a wide array of merchants and communal events and activities.

Here are just a few things that make Beacon Hill one of the most appealing areas in downtown Boston:

  1. Charles Street and Cambridge Street
    These two streets make up Beacon Hill’s main commercial thoroughfares. Charles, specifically, is the neighborhood’s main street. It is known for its 40 unique antique shops, home decorating shops, delicious artisanal food shops and several good restaurants. Cambridge Street offers more in the way of delicious restaurants, plus two gas stations and a supermarket. Both Charles and Cambridge offer a number of unique service shops, including one of the last independent pharmacies – Gary Drug – left in America. You’ll also find Massachusetts General Hospital on Cambridge Street. And for residents the best part is, everything is within walking distance.
  2. The Bustling Nightlife
    Though Beacon Hill has some of the highest rents in the city of Boston, its nightlife might just be one of the most accessible, not to mention of high repute. Home to some of the city’s best dive bars, Beacon Hill draws a lively crowd on the weekends. The Beacon Hill Pub, for example, consistently pulls in loads of millennials looking to party the night away. With cheap beer on tap and a good selection of domestic beers, it’s a popular locale for those who prefer a casual atmosphere to the club scene.
  3. Acorn Street
    This street just so happens to be one of America’s most beautiful city streets. Reminiscent of an old European city, its gas-lit cobblestone streets will make you wish you lived there. Known for its beautiful doors and shutters, brass door knockers, decorative iron work, brick sidewalks, perpetually-burning gas lights, flowering pear trees, window boxes, and hidden gardens, it’s no wonder Acorn Street is one of the most photographed locales in the country. And if somehow you’ve got a small fortune tucked away, you could easily afford one of its mid-19th century homes worth up to $13,000 a month in rent. There’s a reason Acorn Street is such prime real estate.

    Exploring Beacon Hill: Boston, Massachusetts' Historic Neighborhood
    Acorn Street is one of the most photographed streets in North America, and for good reason. The contrast of old cobblestone streets and lush flora makes it an ideal spot for Instagrammers.
  4. A Rich History
    They don’t call it Beacon Hill for nothing. Seriously, it’s an actual hill. The South Slope was developed in the 1790’s by the Mt. Vernon Proprietors for Boston’s richest families. Development began when architect Charles Bulfinch laid out the plan for the neighborhood. In 1799 the hills were leveled, Mount Vernon Street was paved, and mansions were built along it. One of the first homes was the Harrison Gray Otis House on Cambridge Street.

    Unlike the South Slope, the North Slope developed in a more organic fashion. It stretched up and down alleyways and into all sorts of nooks and crannies. Among its residents were former slaves, sailors, poets, and more. Notably, the African Meeting House on Joy Street became a community center for black abolitionists.

    Frederick Douglas spoke there, giving impassioned speeches on emancipation. William Lloyd Garrison also founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society there. As a result, it became known as a hotbed and important depot on the Underground Railroad. In the late 19th century, immigrants from Eastern and Southern Europe moved into the neighborhood and city planners remade many of the homes into tenements.

    Many homes built of wood were dilapidated by the end of the Civil War and were razed for new housing. During this time the black community migrated to Boston’s south end and the north slope was overtaken by an influx of Irish, Jewish, and other immigrants. Eventually, the African Meeting House was turned into a synagogue.

Whether you’re looking for some good eats, some good old fashioned antiquing, one of Boston’s many famous bars–including the Bull & Finch Pub now called Cheers after it inspired the making of the TV show of the same name–or just itching to take a walk down some of the city’s most bustling, eccentric, charming thoroughfares, Beacon Hill is the place for you.

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