Named after American painter and poet Washington Allston, the Boston neighborhood of Allston borders the Brighton, Brookline, Cambridge and Fenway/Kenmore neighborhoods. Housing within the neighborhood varies greatly, ranging from brick apartment buildings to wooden triple-deckers. The Lower Allston area consists largely of 1890 to 1920s single-family and multi-family Victorian homes. Bordered on the east and north by the Charles River, Allston is connected to the City of Cambridge via several bridges.
Allston History and Business Development
The community of Allston developed mostly around livestock and railroad operations, such as the Boston and Albany Railroad. While much of the railroad yard remains in the community today, all livestock activity came to an end in the mid-20th century. After the Massachusetts Turnpike Extension was opened through Allston in 1964 and 9165, small businesses and restaurants started to appear more frequently within the neighborhood.
A stretch along Brighton Avenue situated between Packard’s Corner and Allston Street is home to restaurants offering a variety of ethnic and national cuisines. Meanwhile, Harvard Avenue is home to a number of thrift shops and furniture stores. The section of Harvard Avenue situated between Commonwealth Avenue and Cambridge Street, which is often referred to as “Allston Village,” is home to several shops, restaurants and bars.
Today, the area north of the turnpike and near the Charles River is known as Lower Allston or North Allston. Allston Square is located in its center, halfway between Harvard Square in the North and Allston Village in the South.
Allston Entertainment and Events
Allston is home to the Brighton Music Hall, Paradise Rock Club, Great Scott, Wonder Bar and O’Brien’s Pub. Each of these venues hosts live music on a regular basis. Several recording studios, including Galaxy Park, are also located in the neighborhood. Local musical acts are also featured each year at the annual Allston-Brighton parade and the annual Allston DIY fest.
The unsanctioned Allston Squirt Gun Day also takes place in the neighborhood each year. At this event, which takes place in late August, participants are asked to wear green and to meet at the intersection of Brighton and Harvard avenues. The Allston Village Street Fair also takes place on Harvard Avenue between Cambridge Street and Brighton Avenue each year. The event features live performances, local businesses, international food and family-friendly activities.
Allston is located near to three major universities. These include Boston University, Berklee College of Music and Harvard University. Boston University is located primarily on Commonwealth Avenue, which is home to numerous schools and universities associated with the school. The Berklee College of Music also has practice and rehearsal buildings near Commonwealth Avenue. Meanwhile, a large portion of Harvard University is located in North Allston. With plans for future growth in the area, Harvard’s Allston campus will ultimately be longer than its Cambridge campus.
Due to its proximity to major universities, the neighborhood is known for its annual “Allston Christmas.” Taking place primarily in August and September, this period of time is characterized by renters leaving their unwanted possessions on the streets, such as kitchenware, couches and tables, for those who might want them as they move out of the area upon completion of their educational program.