Boston’s North End has been attracting people for centuries. This tightly-knit community with water on three sides has been a busy wharf district, an Irish enclave, a Jewish settlement, an artisans’ neighborhood, and now an Italian-American community. This tour starts at the Haymarket T stop and ventures through a neighborhood dotted with historical sites, classic Italian restaurants, and jovial local bakeries. But don’t be fooled; there’s plenty changing in Boston’s North End. Look closely and you’ll be able to see the wave of things to come: wireless cafés, upstart organic restaurants, and renovated condominiums.
From the Haymarket T station, cross over the greenway to the (1) North End Parks (intersection of Salem and Cross Streets; www.masspike.com/bigdig/parks/nendpark.html). This recent addition to the area—thanks to the massive Big Dig construction project, which replaced elevated highways with green space—helps connect the historic North End with the rest of Boston. There are benches and a pagoda for resting and gathering here.
Once you are ready, exit the park to the north and plunge into the North End on (2) Salem Street. Salem is one of the three main drags in the North End, and it is chock-full of restaurants, bakeries, and shops. Poke your head into (3) Daily Fresh Candies at 57 Salem Street or (4) Bova’s Bakery (134 Salem Street) for something sweet. At the corner of Prince and Salem Streets, turn left and follow Prince down to Commercial Street. Along the way, peer into the side streets and alleyways. These are mainly residential streets to the left, but you never know what little gem you might find. As you get close to Commercial Street, there is a large parking garage on your right. This used to be a bank building and was the site of the 1950 (5) Great Brink’s Robbery, one of the largest heists in U.S. history.
Cross Commercial Street and continue into the park across the street for an excellent view of the Zakim Bridge, Boston’s new icon. Backtrack to Commercial and turn left, following Commercial as far as Hull Street. Turn right on Hull. On the left is the historic (6) Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, one of the oldest urban cemeteries in North America. Just across from the main gates at 44 Hull Street is the (7) Spite House, only ten feet wide. Continue up Hull to where it meets Salem. At 193 Salem Street is the (8) Old North Church (Christ Church). Still a truly stunning church, it is most famous as housing the steeple from which two lanterns were hung on the night of April 18, 1775, to warn revolutionaries in Charlestown that the British Army was rowing across the Charles River to land in Cambridge before marching on to Lexington and Concord. Cut through the (9) Paul Revere Mall behind the church to Hanover Street and turn right.
Hanover is still very much the center of the Italian North End. As with Salem Street, there are probably too many options to list, but (10) Mike’s Pastry (300 Hanover Street) is worth a mention. In addition, (11) Mare Organic at 135 Richmond Street and (12) Mamma Maria on North Square may tempt you from Hanover. Certainly make an after- dinner journey to North Square (using either Prince or Richmond Street depending on where you eat). In addition to the (13) Paul Revere House at 19 North Square, be sure to check out the Pierce-Hichborn House. The house was built for Moses Pierce, a glazier, and was later owned by Nathaniel Hichborn, Paul Revere’s cousin. At 11 North Square, the Seamen’s Bethel and Lodging, which provided lodging and church for mariners, is now called the (14) Mariners House. Today, part of it is an inn.
From North Square, continue south on North Street until you come to Richmond Street, turn left on Richmond and follow to (15) Christopher Columbus Waterfront Park, where this tour ends.
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