Don’t let the profusion of Prada-clad shoppers fool you: there’s more to Newbury Street than world-class retail, people watching, and al fresco dining. One of the first streets created on the marshland known as Back Bay, Newbury has seen a myriad of tenants and uses over the past 150 years. Look closely and you’ll glimpse a historical side to Newbury Street all but unseen by the fashionistas.

  • “T” station: Arlington, Copley, or Hynes/ICA

Boston Architectural Center

  • 320 Newbury St

  • 617 262 5000

  • open 8:30am–10pm Mon–Thu, 8:30am– 5 pm Fri, 9am– 5pm Sat, noon– 5 pm Sun

Church of the Covenant

  • 67 Newbury St

Emmanuel Church

  • 15 Newbury St

French Library & Cultural Center

  • 53 Marlborough St

  • 617 912 0400

  • open 10am– 5pm Mon–Sat; later hours some evenings

New England Historical Genealogical Society:

  • 101 Newbury St

  • 617 536 5740

  • Open 9am–5pm Tue–Sat (until 9pm Wed–Thu)

Society of Arts & Crafts

  • 175 Newbury St

  • 617 266 1810

  • Open 10am–6pm Mon–Sat, noon–5pm Sun

Trinity Church Rectory

  • 233 Clarendon St

  • Closed to the public

Back Bay’s Origins

Since its settlement by Westerners, Boston has been nipped, tucked, and reshaped to suit the needs of its inhabitants. Back Bay derives its name from the tidal swampland on which the neighborhood now stands. During the 19th century, gravel was used to fill the marsh and create the foundations for the grand avenues and picturesque brownstones that now distinguish this highly sought-after area.

Around Newbury Street

Newbury Street

Stock up at Deluca’s Back Bay Market (

239 Newbury St
) and have a picnic.

View the schedule for Emmanuel Music, a highly respected chamber music society, at or call 617 536 3356.

Top 10 Sights
  1. Emmanuel Church

    Architect Alexander Estey’s impressive church (1860) was the first building to grace Newbury after the in-filling of Back Bay. The adjacent Lindsey Chapel (1924) is home to the renowned Emmanuel Music.

  2. Commonwealth Avenue

    A mall running along the center of Commonwealth Avenue provides a leafy respite from the Newbury Street throngs. Benches and historical sculptures line the pedestrian path, where couples and a dog or two stake out their favorite spots.

  3. Church of the Covenant

    Although far more famous for his Trinity Church in New York, English-born architect Richard Upjohn also left his Neo-Gothic mark on Boston with the Church of the Covenant, erected in 1865.

  4. Society of Arts & Crafts

    Formed in 1897, the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts was one of the earliest of its kind. Societies such as this helped to elevate the status of traditional arts.

  5. Boston Architectural College

    For more than 100 years, aspiring architects have sought the counsel and workshops offered by the venerable BAC. The McCormick Gallery displays architectural plans and designs.

  6. Louis, Boston

    Originally a natural history museum opened in 1864, this landmark building now offers the haughtiest couture shopping experience in town .

  7. Gibson House Museum

    One of Back Bay’s first private residences, Gibson House was also one of the most modern houses of its day. Boasting gas lighting, indoor plumbing, and heating, it spurred a building boom in the area.

  8. French Library & Cultural Center

    Housed in a grand Back Bay mansion, the French Library hosts everything from lectures in French to concerts and a legendary Bastille Day celebration. The library’s lobby posts wire-service news reports from France.

  9. New England Historic Genealogical Society

    Members seek to make contact with their New England progenitors in one of the most extensive genealogical libraries in the US. For a fee, you too, can try your luck.

  10. Trinity Church Rectory

    H. H. Richardson, Trinity Church’s principal architect, was commissioned to build this rectory in 1879. His handiwork reflects the Romanesque style of his Copley Square masterpiece .

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