Boston’s center for nightlife is the small but lively Theater District, which offers theaters, nightclubs and restaurants galore. In the past decade, many historic venues have undergone renovation, including the ornate Boston Opera House and the grand Boch Center (Wang Theater) on Washington Street. Furthermore, a slew of smaller theaters populate the surrounding streets. On any given night (and especially on weekends), the marquees advertise a wide range of ballet, comedy, drama, musical theater and opera.
The Puritans in Boston never took a shine to the arts. Indeed, the moral leadership forbid theater until the late 18th century, and even then, strict codes were enforced. The phrase “banned in Boston” reflected the city’s national reputation for prudishness.
During the Roaring Twenties, the pendulum swung far in the opposite direction and indulgence reigned with wild abandon. Venues opened all around the city, specializing in burlesque theater and dance. Boston enjoyed a heyday of artistic expression.
Unfortunately, as cinema gained popularity the Theater District fell into decline. In the second half of the 20th century, the neighborhood became the “Combat Zone”, a seedy and dangerous red-light district. Eventually, a citywide effort forced the Theater District to clean up its act. Today the many venues wow guests with outstanding theater, music and dance. From prostitutes to men in tights; what would the Puritans think?
This small district is bounded by Boylston Street to the north, Washington Street to the east, Oak Street to the south, and Charles Street South to the west. The Theater District overlaps with Chinatown.