Once underwater and now upscale, Back Bay tells a story of creative urban planning. As the population of Boston swelled in the 19th century, so did the demand for land. In 1857, the city began the ambitious project of filling in the tidal bay – the “back bay” – of Boston Harbor. It took decades but once complete, Boston’s landmass was more than twice its original size and rock solid.
Back Bay was a planned community, in the style of Haussmann’s Paris. As a result, its wide, orderly boulevards have plenty of room for pedestrians, park benches, statures and uniform architecture. Stroll down Commonwealth Avenue today to view the stylish results.
Famous for its luxury hotels and chichi shopping, the Back Bay has boutiques on Newbury Street, big name shops at the Copley Place mall and plenty of fashionable cafes and restaurants. Less expensive pursuits include sightseeing at the historic Boston Public Library, Trinity Church and the Christian Science Church. Explore the neighborhood by Spending a Day in Boston’s Back Bay.
The Back Bay extends from the Charles River east to Boylston Street, with Arlington Street and Massachusetts Avenue serving as north and south boundaries respectively. (To get a good view, visit the Prudential Center Skywalk.) Incidentally, you can’t get lost here – the cross streets are in alphabetical order, starting with Arlington (at the Public Garden) and going down to Hereford, through Copley Square.
T: Arlington, Copley and Hynes/ICA all on the Green Line