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Back Bay homes for sale are among the most sought-after in Boston. Back Bay’s mere 340-acre area contains noteworthy tourist sites, streets lined with trees, as well as an array of boutique shops, unique cafes, and world-famous luxury stores. To the North of Back Bay is the Charles River, to the east is the Boston Public Garden, to the west is Fenway-Kenmore, and to the south is the South End. Browse homes for sale in Back Bay from the Boston Pads real estate database! With more listings and knowledgeable real estate agents than any other agency in the Boston area, you are sure to find a Back Bay property that you like and a friendly agent to help you.
Back Bay Homes for Sale
Back Bay homes for sale are among the most sought-after in Boston. Back Bay’s mere 340-acre area contains noteworthy tourist sites, streets lined with trees, as well as an array of boutique shops, unique cafes, and world-famous luxury stores. To the North of Back Bay is the Charles River, to the east is the Boston Public Garden, to the west is Fenway-Kenmore, and to the south is the South End. The population of Back Bay is approximately 22,000, and the median income is approximately $98,000.
Back Bay’s northern half comprises the Back Bay Architectural District, which the Back Bay Architectural Commission oversees. The mandate of this commission is to ensure that the character of this district remains intact in terms of design and construction. Through this effort, this part of Back Bay retains its elegant 19th century character. Back Bay homes for sale in this district combine the genteel atmosphere of a bygone era with close proximity to the best of what the modern world has to offer.
What is now the fashionable neighborhood of Back Bay was once an actual tidal bay. The broad area of marshy ground exposed at low tide disappeared under several feet of water at high tide. The development of Back Bay passed through a series of stages. It offers a lesson in unforeseen consequences that lead to outcomes that are much better than the original situation.
Boston and Roxbury Mill Corporation constructed the first stage of what became land reclamation in 1814. They built a milldam across the mouth of the bay, which also formed a toll road that bypassed the longer route along the shore. Not only did the milldam construction cost more than expected, but it also failed to provide the anticipated level of waterpower generation. The more significant issue was that the milldam interfered with the natural tidal flow, so it no longer flushed the city’s waste out to sea twice daily. Fortunately, this disastrous situation inspired a complete reversal of conditions.
Engineering Back Bay
A massive civil engineering project started in 1857 to fill in the area behind the milldam. By 1882, they created what is now Back Bay, using an immense quantity of landfill. To get an idea of the scope of this effort, consider that a railroad line, built for the purpose, at one point brought in 875 rail cars of landfill and gravel on a daily basis. Modern Beacon Street covers much of the length of the old milldam.
Although there were spirited disputes by the parties involved, the landfilling and development proceeded in an organized and planned manner. From its inception, the development intended Back Bay to be an upscale and elite neighborhood. Deed restrictions set clear, strict requirements about the standards of the new construction. All the buildings had to be stone, at least three stories high, and built with materials, design, and workmanship that adhered to specific high-level standards. This resulted in the durable historic architecture that makes the Back Bay Architectural District the desirable and well-preserved neighborhood it is today. This aspect improves the quality of life and leads new residents to seek Back Bay homes for sale.
Median home value in Back Bay is about $1,200,000. Most of the finest homes are in the area’s 19th century row houses. There is a rich variety of exterior architectural styles among the Back Bay homes for sale. Among these are High Victorian Gothic, Italianate, French Academic, Beaux Arts, Queen Anne, Federal, German and Italian Renaissance Revival, and Georgian. Prospective buyers may consider that here they can invest in unique properties that are not duplicated in the modern era.
Transportation near Back Bay Homes for Sale
The MBTA Green Line has three stations directly in Back Bay: Hynes Convention Center Station, Prudential Station, and Copley Station. Other MBTA stations are located just a block from Back Bay to the west, east, and south. Back Bay homes for sale are also close to connections with Amtrak, MBTA Commuter lines, and interstate bus services.
At the western end of Back Bay is Massachusetts Avenue, which crosses the Charles River to Cambridge over the Harvard Bridge. Storrow Drive, which is limited access, runs east and west along the northern edge of Back Bay. Parking facilities are limited, so when looking for Back Bay homes for sale, the inclusion of parking accommodation is a big plus. Street parking here can be complicated with restrictions, permits, and regulations dictating when cars must be moved. Boston is well known for strictly enforcing its parking regulations.
Fisher College main campus is located at 118 Beacon Street. It is a private college with over 2,500 students, including the Professional Studies and Accelerated Programs. When Edmund H. and Myron C. Fisher founded the college in 1903, they named it Winter Hill Business School. The name changed in 1910 to Fisher Business College. Fisher College awards certificates, Associates, and Bachelor’s Degrees. In addition, a Master’s of Business Administration is offered with a Strategic Leadership concentration.
Commonwealth School is located at 151 Commonwealth Avenue. It is a private, independent co-ed day school serving grades 9-12. They emphasize critical thinking, effective writing, and intellectual connections. Independent study with faculty guidance is available to proven students. There are 140 students and the student to teacher ratio is 5 to 1.
The Newman School
The Newman School is located at 247 Marlborough Street. This private school offers a college preparatory curriculum for grades 7-12. The student body numbers about 250 and the student to teacher ratio is 6 to 1. School uniforms are required.
Kingsley Montessori School
Kingsley Montessori School, located at 26 Exeter Street, serves students from toddlers through grade 6. This private school follows the Montessori curriculum, which emphasizes social, as well as academic skills. There are 325 students and the student to teacher ratio is 7 to 1. Also offered are enrichment programs, private music lessons, and after school programs.
Snowden International School
Snowden International School is located at 150 Newbury Street. It is a magnet school in the Boston Public Schools system serving grades 9-12. There are 439 students and the student to teacher ratio is 14 to 1. All students focus on international studies. Four years each of science, world language, math, and history are required, as are hours of community service. A valid passport is required, as each student may apply for foreign travel study. Among the countries students have visited are Germany, Taiwan, Belize, Mexico, Russia, China, Canada, England, Mongolia, Morocco, France, and Japan. In addition, foreign exchange students attend Snowden International School.
Landmarks & Historic Places near Back Bay Homes for Sale
Back Bay contains an outstanding collection of attractive public spaces and famous landmarks. Back Bay homes for sale are close to all of these. It is like having an extended backyard full of world-famous landmarks and notable sights. Unlike the travelers that must journey from distant places, Back Bay residents can experience all of this at their pleasure. Here is a sampling of the landmarks this neighborhood offers:
Commonwealth Avenue Mall
Commonwealth Avenue Mall runs the length of the Back Bay Architectural District between the westbound and eastbound roadways of Commonwealth Avenue from Massachusetts Avenue to the Boston Public Garden. Arthur Delevan Gilman, a noteworthy American architect, designed the mall from inspiration by the grand boulevards of Paris, France.
This long, tree-lined park covers 32 acres. Dotted at intervals along its length are memorials and statues of noteworthy people and events. These include statues of Leif Ericson, Alexander Hamilton, William Lloyd Garrison, Domingo Sarmiento, Patrick Andrew Collins, Samuel Eliot Morison, Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley, Lucy Stone, and John Glover. There is also the Vendome Memorial, built in honor of the nine firefighters who lost their lives in the Hotel Vendome fire in 1972. This lovely, tree-shaded walkway is the perfect vantage to enjoy viewing the 19th century architecture of the historic homes lining Commonwealth Avenue.
The Boston Public Library McKim Building
The Boston Public Library McKim Building is located next to Copley Square on Boylston Street. This National Historic Landmark opened in 1895. It is a major component of the Boston Public Library system.
A monumental structure, the McKim building is an architectural masterpiece covering an entire city block. Charles Follen McKim designed this namesake building as his architectural magnum opus. It is a work of art, impressive for the observer to look at in its entirety, and it rewards those who examine the details. A pattern of dolphins and seashells decorate the roofline, symbolizing the maritime history of Boston. There are 33 carvings of medallions between the arches of the windows; they are the signets of printers and booksellers. Above the main entrance are three large sculptures of the seals of The City of Boston, The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and The Boston Public Library. Centered below them is the motto of the library: “FREE-TO-ALL”. Flanking the main entrance are two enthroned statues representing “Science” and “Art”.
The grandeur continues into the building. Visitors pass through the vestibule with its three pairs of bas-relief decorated bronze doors and into the lobby over a marble floor with brass inlays, beneath the vaulted mosaic tile ceilings. The top of the grand staircase is flanked by a pair of majestic, much larger than life, lions carved of marble. Walking into McKim Library, one is aware of entering a monumental artwork. All around there are details, murals, and inscriptions commemorating noteworthy people, concepts, and institutions. You know you are passing from the mundane, modern world into a transcendent edifice dedicated to preserving knowledge and culture.
The Boston Public Library Rooms
The main reading room, Bates Hall, is a cathedral-like space with a vaulted ceiling 50 feet high. It is furnished with the original oak tables and bookcases. The reading lamps on the tables are elegant brass candelabra with shades of green glass.
The Abbey Room is where patrons used to wait for the books they requested from the Bates Hall desk. It is named for Edwin Austin Abbey, who was famous for his illustrations in Harper’s Magazine. He painted the fifteen mural panels that decorate the upper walls of this large room. These panels gloriously depict the Arthurian legend of the Holy Grail Quest of Sir Galahad in the romantic style of the late 19th century. It was an interesting inspiration for patrons that waited for the books they hope would fulfill their own quests for knowledge.
At the center of the building is an open-air courtyard, built in the style of an Italian Renaissance palace. With green lawn around it, is a central fountain mounts a cast of Frederick MacMonnies bronze statue of Bacchante and Infant Faun. When originally installed, the statue scandalized Victorian era Boston society, as it depicted a naked woman reveling in dance, holding aloft a bunch of grapes and carrying a naked infant in her other arm. Within a year, the original was removed and transferred to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. In the 1990’s, the new cast was made from the copy displayed in Boston Museum of Fine Arts and it is now in its intended setting.
The Boston Public Library’s Rare Collections
In addition to the outstanding art and architecture, more than 1.7 million rare manuscripts and books are housed in the research collection. Among these are the John Adam’s personal library collection, medieval manuscripts, colonial Boston records, archives of material written on abolitionism, and many other important works. There are also extensive collections of maps, prints, postcards, and photographs. The third floor of the library contains several galleries where rotating exhibits of the rare collections are displayed.
The Old South Church
The Old South Church is located on Boylston Street. The bell tower is 246 feet high and houses the church’s massive one-ton bell. One of New England’s best examples of High Victorian Gothic style, the church is a National Historic Landmark.
Trinity Church, at Copley Square, is a superb example of H.H. Richardson’s Romanesque style, built in the 1870’s. The stained glass windows are beautiful, and inside the church are painted murals covering over 20,000 square feet.
The Prudential Tower
The Prudential Tower, at 800 Boylston Street, stands 749 feet tall. It is Boston’s second tallest building. When it opened in 1964, this International Style skyscraper offended Boston area critics. They felt it was contrary to the image they wanted their city to have. Now critics accept it as a proud Boston landmark.
200 Clarendon Street
200 Clarendon Street is the tallest building in New England, rising 790 feet. Formerly called the John Hancock Tower, it is an example of Minimalist glass architecture. Secure, private offices are housed here.
The Arlington Street Church
The Arlington Street Church, located across the street from the Boston Public Garden, is historically a very important Unitarian Universalist Church. Its design resembles the church of Saint Martin-in-the-Fields in London, England. Tiffany Studios produced the sixteen gorgeous stained glass windows of the main sanctuary. They are truly breathtaking examples of the art. Except for Sundays, or during special events, The Arlington Street Church is open daily to the public from mid-May through October.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza
The Fairmont Copley Plaza is a landmark of Beaux-Arts architecture located at 138 Saint James Avenue. Its 5,000 square foot lobby, the famous Peacock Alley, displays Empire crystal chandeliers hanging from a gilt coffered ceiling, and Italian marble columns line this entry hall. The Fairmont Copley Plaza opened in 1912, and it is an AAA Four-Diamond and Forbes Four Star hotel, one of the premier destinations for travelers to Boston.
Frederick Ayer Mansion
Frederick Ayer Mansion is a National Historic Landmark located in the western end of the Back Bay Architectural District at 395 Commonwealth Avenue. Louis Comfort Tiffany, the artist famous for stained glass, designed this house for Frederick Ayer. The Bayridge Residence & Cultural Center now owns this remarkable example of residential artistry.
The Christian Science Plaza
The Christian Science Plaza is located at the corner of Huntington Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue. There are a number of noteworthy buildings, as well as a remarkable 690 by 100 foot reflecting pool, on the 14.5-acre grounds. Completed in 1894, The Original Mother Church is a fine example of Romanesque Revival stone construction. It seats 900 people and the steeple rises 126 feet, but it seems small compared to the Mother Church Extension. This Byzantine-Renaissance domed structure, completed in 1906, is a least a few times the size of The Original Mother Church. Also on the grounds is the Christian Science Publishing House (built in 1934), and three newer additions added in the 1970’s – Reflection Hall, Colonnade Building, and Administration Building.
Gibson House Museum
Gibson House Museum is located at 137 Beacon Street. This museum preserves the Victorian life and furnishings of the Gibson Family, who lived here for three generations. This house was among the first built in Back Bay, in 1860. Gibson House is open to the public by guided tours Wednesday through Sunday afternoons. Visitors should note that as a true historic preservation, there is no air conditioning, or elevators to circumvent several steep stairways.
Visitors will find here the beautifully preserved environment and furnishings of a prominent wealthy Boston family and the staff of employees who lived in this residence. The tour is like experiencing time travel. One might expect to round a corner and bump into one of the original residents. As opposed to seeing artifacts in a sterile museum case, it is quite an experience to see the furnishings and decorations as they actually were used and displayed.
Attractions near Back Bay Homes for Sale
Copley Square attracts many people who come for site seeing and shopping. Several noteworthy Back Bay landmarks are located here: Boston Public Library McKim Building, Old South Church, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, Trinity Church, and 200 Clarendon (the former John Hancock Tower). Copley Place Shopping Mall contains a selection of upscale destination stores, among them are Burberry, Channel, Barney’s New York, Gucci, Tiffany and Company, Versace, and many others.
The Shops at Prudential Center
The Shops at Prudential Center is located at the Prudential Tower on 800 Boylston Street. This mall features a glass-covered walkway and contains more than 20 dining and 70 retail establishments. The Prudential Tower also contains the Skywalk Observatory on its 50th floor, which allows a full 360 view of Greater Boston. The Top of the Hub restaurant is on the 52nd floor, which offers great views of Boston and excellent food.
Residents and tourists alike seek out Boylston Street and Newbury Street as dining and shopping destinations. There are hundreds of cafes and unique boutiques to explore near Back Bay homes for sale.
Local Events near Back Bay Homes for Sale
Open Newbury Street occurs annually in July, August, and September. For one day in each month, Newbury Street closes to vehicle traffic from Arlington Street to Massachusetts Avenue, becoming a temporary pedestrian mall. Visitors, the local community, and the businesses of Newbury Street come together in this successful and popular annual street festival.
Restaurants and Bars near Back Bay Homes for Sale
The restaurants and bars in Back Bay include some of the most upscale and sophisticated in the Greater Boston Area, the sort of places one goes for memorable experiences. Here is a sampling:
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen
OAK Long Bar + Kitchen, located in the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel, is one of the top-rated dining establishments in Back Bay. They are open from 7am until 1am, serving breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a late night menu. The dining areas are elegant, unique, and stylish. The menus are sophisticated and the food is expertly prepared. This is a Zagat rated establishment, and it has the reputation as a scene in which to be seen. Boston Magazine voted this the number one hotel bar in 2017.
Saltie Girl, located at 281 Dartmouth Street, is a very interesting seafood restaurant with creative presentation. One of their specialties is their curated tinned seafood offerings. Their menu includes seafood towers in Petite, Grande, and Royale sizes. They have a raw bar, as well as fried offerings, and clam chowder. One of their tempting large plates is fried lobster with waffles, served with spiced maple syrup and sweet corn butter. They earn consistently rave reviews for their food and drinks. Saltie Girls also has a private dining room for groups of 8-14 people, where they offer an additional menu of larger dishes intended for three to six people.
Sorellina, located at 1 Huntington Avenue, is a modern, sophisticated Italian-Mediterranean restaurant. They offer a unique selection of superb Italian wines and a fine modern interpretation of classic Italian food. They also offer valet parking and, for metro Boston, complementary car service. Their preparations feature seasonal, natural, very fresh ingredients. Some of the entrees include Veal Saltimbocca made with maitake mushrooms and prosciutto, served with truffle whipped potatoes, gnocchi with lobster, and ravioli with veal farcito, Marsala, shiitake mushrooms, and truffle cream. This is a great place for a special celebration. Zagat lists Sorellina as one of the best Italian restaurants in Boston.
Abe & Louie’s
Abe & Louie’s, located at 793 Boylston Street, is a top-notch steak house. They specialize in an outstanding selection of USDA Prime Grade aged beef. They also offer a fine selection of classic seafood dishes. The Wine Spectator recognized them with its 2018 Best Award of Excellence. Private dining rooms are available for events serving 10-125 patrons.
This restaurant is located at 371 Commonwealth Avenue. It is a romantic, upscale, and sophisticated establishment offering modern French cuisine. Zagat gives them a great review, praising the “exquisite” menu and “exceptionally attentive” service. Local patrons give consistent praise in their reviews.
Parish Cafe, at 361 Boylston Street, is a pub with a creative list of sandwiches and an extensive selection of craft beers. The unique thing about their sandwiches is that the owner contacted famous chefs throughout the Boston area, asking each of them to create a signature sandwich. The twenty sandwiches they offer identify each of the chefs and their establishments. These truly unique creations garner rave reviews in the hundreds. They are open from 11:30am to 2am, seven days a week.
Things to do near Back Bay Homes for Sale
Charles River Esplanade runs along the northern end of Back Bay. Storrow Drive separates Charles River Esplanade from Back Bay homes for sale, however there are two footbridges and eight pedestrian overpasses that allow access to this area. The Storrow Lagoon bisects the wooded parkland of the Charles River Esplanade along its length. At the eastern end is the Hatch Memorial, a large band shell for outdoor concerts. The Boston Pops Orchestra performs its spectacular Independence Day Concert here every year.
On the long island across Storrow Lagoon is the Boston Public Dock on the Esplanade, which attracts many people enjoying the view across the Charles River and the sunsets. In addition to the tree-lined pathways along the island are Night Shift Owls Nest and Fiedler Field. The Owls Nest is a seasonal beer garden run by Night Shift Brewing and their partners. They serve craft beers on tap, wine, and other drinks. It is like an open-air fair with communal seating, food trucks, bathroom facilities, family friendly games, and community events. They are open, seasonally, until 8pm Wednesdays through Sundays. This is a popular spot, and it can get very busy at night and on the weekends.
What it is Like to Live in Back Bay
There are always things to do living in Back Bay. Even routine errands will take you past sights that people come long distances to see. You will be close to one of the world’s great public transportation networks. Cultural opportunities, boutiques and stores with amazing wares, unique urban parks, and historical architecture will all be right outside your door.