Neighborhood Spotlight: Boston’s Beacon Hill

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Situated directly north of the Boston Common and the Boston Public Garden, the neighborhood of Beacon Hill is one of the most prestigious and highly-sought neighborhoods in Boston. Despite being home to nearly 10,000 people, the neighborhood manages to maintain the cozy feel of a village. Measuring approximately one-half mile square, Beacon Hill is characterized by its decorative iron work, brick sidewalks, flowering pear trees and perpetually-burning gas lights.

Homes in the Beacon Hill Neighborhood

Housing within the Beacon Hill neighborhood is mostly comprised of brick row houses, with architectural styles including those from the Federal, Victorian and Greek Revival periods. Features commonly found on the neighborhood’s homes include beautiful doors with brass door knockers, window boxes and hidden gardens. The great exterior beauty of the community’s homes is sure to last for years to come, as the architecture in Beacon Hill is protected by restrictive regulations that do not allow changes to be made to any visible part of a structure without first getting approval from an architectural commission.

Beacon Hill Lifestyle and Amenities

Beacon Hill provides its residents with ample opportunity to enjoy a rich and rewarding lifestyle. The neighborhood itself is divided into three sections: South Slope, North Slope and Flat of the Hill. The Massachusetts State House is situated at the top of the Hill overlooking Boston Commons. Charles Street, which features a number of antique shops and neighborhood services, serves as the neighborhood’s main street. Cambridge Street also serves as one of the neighborhood’s commercial streets, featuring good restaurants and other conveniences.

Some of the cultural and historical attractions located in or near to the Beacon Hill neighborhood include the Boston Athenaeum, the Boston Center for Jewish Heritage, Boston Common, Boston Public Garden, Harrison Gray Otis House, the Rose Nichols House Museum and the Museum of Afro-American History.

Beacon Hill History

Prior to the Revolution, the area this is now Beacon Hill was comprised mostly of pasture land. The South Slope area was developed in the 1790’s by Mt. Vernon Proprietors with streets that were spacious and carefully laid out. Many of the neighborhood’s homes were also designed by one of these proprietors, Charles Bulfinch. Bulfinch was immortalized by the Bull & Finch Pub located at 84 Beacon Street. The pub later served as the prototype for the television show Cheers, after which the name of the bar was actually changed to Cheers.

The North Slope of Beacon Hill, which was originally inhabited primarily by former slaves, poets and sailors, developed more organically than the South Slope. As such, housing was developed down alleys and in the area’s many nooks and crannies. Meanwhile, the Flat of the Hill area was originally part of the Charles River. After it the area was filled, it became home to shoemakers, blacksmiths and stables.

Today, Beacon Hill is bounded by Bowdoin Street, Beacon Street, Cambridge Street and Storrow Drive. While many of the original buildings remain, most have been renovated to reflect modern taste. Furthermore, the stables and garages of the Flat of the Hill region have been renovated into living quarters.

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