Back Bay, South End

Back Bay and South End: A Tale Of Two Neighborhoods

Bostonians are known for having, and expressing, strong opinions. As someone whom Boston has adopted, I’ll give you one of my own right now: the South Ends trumps the Back Bay in nearly every category that matters, particularly from a cultural, residential and culinary perspective.

From its inception in the 1850s, Back Bay was built to be a residential neighborhood. Beacon Hill had long been Boston’s most elite zip code, but by the 1800s, the Back Bay homes were more modern, featuring the latest amenities, (specifically, we’re talking indoor plumbing and coal-burning furnaces.) As the city grew, the Back Bay remained a highly desirable neighborhood for residents. The location is ideal, many of the homes are beautiful and there is plenty in the way of shopping and dining.

While the Back Bay has been an enviable zip code for over 100 years, its abutting neighbor hasn’t always fared so well. The history of the South End is more nuanced, long being a destination for a wide variety of peoples. The South End, which spans from Columbus to Harrison Avenues on the northern and southern borders, and Massachusetts Ave and Berkeley St. on the west and east, was originally filled in in the 1840s. Its original inhabitants were the wealthy overflow from the busy Beacon Hill and Back Bay neighborhoods.

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