Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood is a vibrant and thriving community with no shortage of amenities or conveniences. Whether you enjoy finding a quiet nook in the midst of the bustling city or want to be in the center of everything, you can find exactly what your heart desires in Back Bay.
Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood officially consists of 0.424 square miles and has a population of 11,366. The estimated population density is somewhere around 26,819 per square mile, which well exceeds Boston’s average of 12,906 people per square mile. The racial makeup of the neighborhood is predominantly Caucasian with some Hispanics, Asians, and African Americans, as well. While the neighborhood is fairly crowded, it’s also surprisingly quiet in the evenings as lots of families call Back Bay home.
The better question is what’s not here? Running the length of Boylston Street from Arlington Street to Mass Ave, Back Bay offers an eclectic mix of fine dining, eye-opening architecture, affluent residences, and plenty of shopping.
Stroll through Back Bay and you’ll quickly come to the realization that there are restaurants for every budget and palate. In fact, one of Boston’s finest restaurants in the entire city can be found here. L’Espalier offers self-proclaimed “sophisticated and modern New England –French cuisine” by an award winning chef. But the list doesn’t stop there. Sonsie on Newbury Street is a popular bar for the late-night trendy crowd, while Island Creek Oyster Bar offers up some tasty (and expensive) seafood.
You’ll also find some of the most unique and timeless architecture in the city in Back Bay. It’s this factor that gives the neighborhood a very “Old Boston” conservative feeling. However, don’t let the history fool you. The influx of students and young millennials gives some new flare to the label “Old Boston.”
As for the shopping, you could spend weeks traversing the streets of Back Bay – window shopping, perusing, and buying to your heart’s desire. The neighborhood is home to some of the best shopping in all of Boston. Newbury Street is lined with unique stores and shops, while Copley Place and The Prudential Center offer a little bit of everything.
Back Bay is a pretty tall area. You’ll find lots of high-rises, as well as the iconic Trinity Church with its steeple reaching towards the heavens. There are also a number of traditional Victorian brownstones and a handful of newer apartment buildings.
Back Bay arguably has one of the most unique histories of any distinct neighborhood in Boston. A century and a half ago it was covered in water – nothing but swampland. However, as the population of the city drastically increased, so did the demand for land. City planners undertook an enormous landfill project and turned the area into what it is today.
Interestingly enough, Back Bay is the only portion of the city to be designed with a genuine street grid pattern. Furthermore, finding your way through the neighborhood is easy, as cross streets are in alphabetical order (Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, etc.).
Outside of eating and shopping, there are plenty of amenities to be enjoyed in the area. Perhaps the most well-known feature of the neighborhood is the Boston Public Library. Even if you don’t intend to study, work, or read, the library is still an interesting place to visit. Many people go for the guided tours or simply to get lost in the endless labyrinth of books.
West Back Bay is home to one of the world’s most iconic sports stadiums – Fenway Park – and Boston’s most beloved team – the Red Sox. Being in close proximity to Fenway Park also means you’re in the shadows of the oft-discussed Citgo Sign.
There are also slightly more quirky landmarks, including the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. This three-story globe model is the largest walk-in globe in the world and is built entirely to scale.
What else is a must-do in Back Bay? Consider visiting the Gibson House Museum for a step back in time, the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, taking a stroll down the self-guided Irish Heritage Trail, taking a ride on the iconic Swan Boats in the public gardens across the Boston Common, or checking out breath taking views of Boston from the Prudential Center Skywalk. Luckily, Back Bay is easy to access via the T.