Starting in 1857, Boston took what were the tidewater flats of the Charles River and turned it into gold by filling it in to create the Back Bay.
Begin your tour at the corner of Massachusetts and Commonwealth Avenues and proceed down the (1) Commonwealth Avenue Mall, a 100-foot-wide (30.5-meter) swath of grass, trees, and an odd assortment of statues. The statues range from the obvious (William Lloyd Garrison, the outspoken abolitionist and Boston activist) to the obscure—Domingo Sarmiento, the former president of Argentina. Of particular interest are the (2) The Vendome Memorial, a curved ridge of polished granite evoking the Vietnam memorial, yet topped with a bronzed jacket and hat, and (3) The Boston Women’s Memorial featuring Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley.
As you approach the Public Garden, on the other side of Arlington you will see the (4) George Washington statue rising above the traffic to welcome visitors to the Public Garden. The world famous (5) Swan Boats are just behind the statue. In 1877, Robert Paget introduced these boats, modeled after ones seen in the Lohengrin opera, and his family has operated the business ever since.
After your swan ride, head back to Arlington Street, turn left for one block, and then walk back up Newbury Street into the heart of Boston’s trendy shopping district. Here you will find (6) Louis Boston (234 Berkeley Street; www.louisboston.com) famous for high-end clothing, furnishings, and accessories; two (7) Jasmine Sola locations (329 and 344 Newbury Street) where trendsetters shop for clothes; (8) Gallery NAGA (67 Newbury Street; www.gallerynaga.com) featuring contemporary New England furniture and paintings; and (9) Newbury Comics (332 Newbury Street; www.newburycomics.com), a treasure trove of music, movies, and pop culture goods. Foodies will delight in the freshness of (10) Stephanie’s on Newbury (190 Newbury Street; www.stephaniesonnewbury.com) or the people-watching potential of (11) Sonsie (327 Newbury Street; www.sonsieboston.com). (12) Deluca’s Market (239 Newbury Street; www.delucasmarket.com) offers fresh picnic makings if you want to bring food back to the Public Garden or Common.
Continue down Newbury to Arlington Street where prices drop and funkiness rises. Stop by (13) Trident Booksellers & Café (338 Newbury Street; www.tridentbookscafe.com) for a cappuccino and a magazine, or end your tour with a stop at (14) J.P. Licks (352 Newbury Street; www.jplicks.com), the local homemade ice cream café chain founded in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, which has made great inroads in a city that knows ice cream.
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