Not for Tourists Guide to Boston
Samples of neighborhood blurbs published in the Not for Tourists Guide to Boston (print)
Once home to elite Boston Brahmins, Beacon Hill still contains some of the most expensive real estate in America. Charming brick row houses reflect a long and storied history; where the State House stands, John Hancock once grazed cows. The star of the Charles River skyline is the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge. The West End, once a bustling working-class neighborhood, is now a charmless tract of high-rise buildings.
Locals praise the community feel of the one-square-mile that constitutes Beacon Hill. While the West End caters mostly to work-a-day suits, a diverse array of restaurants and shops line Charles and Cambridge Streets in Beacon Hill. Pubs like Seven’s and The Four’s cater to sports fans, but Cheers draws mainly tourists. The Public Garden and Boston Common function as this neighborhood’s backyard.
Public transit (or your own two feet) remains the best way to travel in this high-traffic, scarce-parking neighborhood. If you simply must drive, be prepared for the havoc still being wreaked by the Big Dig, particularly at the intersection where Cambridge and Charles Streets converge at the exit from Storrow Drive. Route 93 takes you to points north and south, while Storrow runs east and west. Cross the Longfellow Bridge to get to Cambridge.
Despite the threat of gentrification, Jamaica Plain is still home to a diverse population of artists, students, lesbians, and immigrant communities. Upscale restaurants, locals' dives, and hipster lounges exist side by side on the same block. Stunning Jamaica Pond forms part of the city's Emerald Necklace, and the Arnold Arboretum and Franklin Park Zoo are great places to be outside. Colorful festivals are a highlight of the summer months.
Centre Street functions as the main artery in JP, lined with restaurants and shops of all varieties. The Milky Way, the Brendan Behan Pub and Zon’s cluster at the Hyde Square end of Centre, while Doyle’s, The Midway Café, and James’ Gate are closer to Forest Hills T station. The area around Jackson Square T reflects the flavors of Puerto Rican, Dominican and Cape Verdean communities, as does Washington Street.
Driving is fairly convenient in JP, thanks to the quick flow of traffic on the Riverway and the abundance of free parking. Locals use the 39 bus, which runs down Centre Street, as often as the Orange Line. But in this eco-conscious neighborhood, biking, skating and walking are very popular (and PC) forms of transportation. Southwest Corridor Park contains a bike trail that runs alongside the Orange Line all the way to downtown.