Boston - Around Town : North End & the Waterfront (part 1)

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The North End is Boston's Italian village, where feast day blends into feast day all summer as the great-grandchildren of Southern Italian immigrants celebrate the music, food, and dolce vita of the old country. Every other storefront houses a restaurant, café, or bakery and the cheers of European football fans echo from the bars. These transplanted festivities continue year round, merely moving indoors when the season chills. Yet the North End predates its Italian inhabitants and the neighborhood is in fact the oldest in Boston. The perimeter of the area along the waterfront bristles with condo developments on the former shipping piers, which lead south to the bustle of Long, Central, and Rowes wharves. Boston was born by the sea and it is now reclaiming its waterfront as a vital center for business and pleasure.

Foraging for Formaggio

Italian food, wine, and culture expert Michele Topor has lived in the North End for three decades. Her tour of the local markets on Wednesday and Saturday (10am, 1pm, 2pm, 5pm), and Friday (10am, 1pm, 3pm, 6pm) includes tastings and insights on local restaurants. To reserve a place, contact North End & Chinatown Market Tours: 617 523 6032,

  1. New England Aquarium

    Now the centerpiece of the downtown waterfront development, the aquarium’s construction in the 1960s paved the way for the revitalization of Boston Harbor. Seals cavort in a tank in front of the sleek modern structure .

    New England Aquarium
  2. Old North Church

    An active Episcopal congregation still worships at Boston’s oldest church, officially known as Christ Church (1723). The austere interior looks much as it did in its early days. It was here, in 1775, that sexton Robert Newman hung two lanterns in the belfry to warn horseback messenger Paul Revere of British troop movements.

    • 193 Salem St

    • 617 523 6676

    • Open Jun–Oct: 9am–6pm daily (shorter hours off-season)

    • Donation


    Old North Church

    Old North Church clock
  3. Paul Revere House

    Home to Paul Revere for 30 years, this 17th-century clapboard house is the only surviving home of any of Boston’s revolutionary heroes. It provides an intriguing glimpse into the domestic life of Revere’s family with displays of their furniture and possessions including silverwork made by Revere, who was highly regarded as a metalsmith. Well-trained staff narrate the tale of Revere’s legendary midnight ride.

    • 19 North Sq

    • 617 523 2338

    • Open mid-Apr–Oct: 9:30am–5:15pm daily; Nov–mid Apr: 9:30am–4:15pm daily (closed Mon Jan–Mar)

    • Adm

    • limited DA


    Paul Revere House
  4. Hanover Street

    Originally built in the 17th-century to connect the shipping wharves to Dock Square , Hanover Street was widened in 1870 to accommodate the busy flow of commerce. Today, as the North End’s principal artery with cafés and eateries aplenty, it is the place to come for a slice of the action.

    Hanover Street
  5. Copp’s Hill Burying Ground

    Trace the history of Boston on the thousands of tombstones here, from the mean-spirited Mather family, theocrats who ruled the early city, to the valiant patriots slain in the fight for freedom. In the Battle of Bunker Hill, the British, who occupied the city in 1775, manned a battery from this site and fired on neighboring Charlestown. There are sweeping views of the harbor.

    • Entrance on Hull St

    • Open 9am–5pm daily

    • No DA

    • 617 635 4505

    Copp’s Hill Burying Ground
  6. Paul Revere Mall

    The North End’s history as both revolutionary stronghold and Italian immigrant neighborhood comes together along this tree-lined mall, which old-timers persist in calling the Prado. Created in 1933, the pedestrian mall connects Hanover Street to the rear of Old North Church. Bronze plaques lining the walls capture snippets from the lives of former Bostonians, while an equestrian statue of Paul Revere surveys it all. Today, the mall is a social center, where mothers convene with baby carriages, kids play frisbee, and old men hunker over checkerboards.

  7. Institute of Contemporary Art

    The ICA was founded in 1936 and reopened in its new, landmark structure on Fan Pier in 2006. The striking glass, wood, and steel building, designed by Diller Scofidio & Renfro, is cantilevered over the Harbor Walk and provides very dramatic views. The ICA champions cutting-edge art and concentrates on 21st-century work. There is also an ambitious program of performing arts.

    • Fan Pier

    • 617 478 3100

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue, Wed, Sat, Sun, 10am–9pm Thu–Fri

    • Adm


  8. St Stephen’s Church

    Renowned architect Charles Bulfinch completely redesigned the church’s original 1714 structure in 1802–4. This church is the only surviving example of his religious architecture. The complex Neo-Classical exterior contrasts with the open, airy, and relatively unadorned interior. In 1862, the Roman Catholic archdiocese took over the church to accommodate the area’s growing number of Irish immigrants. Rose Fitzgerald, daughter of Boston mayor John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald and mother of President J. F. Kennedy, is linked to the church. She was baptized here in 1890, and her funeral took place here in 1995.

    • 401 Hanover St

    • 617 523 1230

    • Open 8:30am–4:30pm Mon–Sat, 11am Sun for worship

    • Free

    St Stephen's Church
  9. Children’s Museum

    Educators at this ground-breaking interactive museum for kids pioneered some of the features now found in similar facilities around the world, including giant soap bubbles and complex rampways for marbles .

    Children’s Museum
  10. Boston Tea Party Ship

    The historic occasion (known as the Boston Tea Party) when patriots, dressed as native Americans, threw a consignment of English tea overboard to protest against the imposition of the Stamp Tax of 1773, proved to be a precipitating event of the American Revolution. The Boston Tea Party ship is a replica of the brig Beaver, which was one of the vessels deprived of its cargo that fateful December night. Aboard the ship, costumed storytellers recount events in rousing detail while visitors sip tea (or dump it over the rail). Over the centuries Boston has expanded into the harbor and the tea party site now lies firmly inland at 470 Atlantic Avenue, where a plaque marks the event.

    • Congress St Bridge

    • Closed for renovation; anticipated reopening summer 2009

    Boston Tea Party Ship
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