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West End Homes for Sale
If you are perusing Boston West End homes for sale, you should know exactly what the neighborhood has to offer. It is one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in Downtown Boston, with over 4,000 residents in just under 0.25 square miles. While rich with history, high-rise condominium buildings dominate the landscape, giving many residents here a gorgeous view of the city. If you are hoping to build roots in a spot where you can feel the energy of this 300-year-old city, yet have a high-rise refuge away from the bustling streets, there are many West End homes for sale that could make you very happy.
Owning a Home and Getting Around in the West End
The location of the West End is nothing short of fantastic. It sits just across the Charles River from Cambridge to the west, with the historic North End to the north. You will also find Beacon Hill to the south, and Government Center, including Boston City Hall to the east. The West End has prime access to green space along the Charles River, including Nashua Street Park, Charles Bank Playground, and Lederman Park. With a Community Center, museums, and amazing resources, like Massachusetts General Hospital and TD Garden, within blocks, owning a home in the West End is special.
When it is possible to commute to work without a vehicle, the real estate prices will reflect that convenience. The West End is no different–over 40% of residents commute to work without a vehicle from this neighborhood as many work within 1-2 miles of their home. The median value of West End homes for sale is $750,249. Not only is this 92.9% higher than the median value of homes across the United States, but it is significantly higher than the median value of homes in Boston, which is $540,600. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, the Boston median home value went up by over 12%. The ongoing upward trend is a strong indicator that your investment in one of the West End homes for sale will likely appreciate.
If commuting to work without any transit at all is feasible for you, you may find that you can save money by not owning a car at all, like 40% of the residents that live in your future neighborhood. If work is accessible via MBTA transit, you may still be lucky enough to go carless. The West End has an MBTA T station in each of its four corners that together serve every single T line except for the Silver bus line. For Green Line access, you would use Science Park/West End Station or North Station. North Station also provides access to the Orange Line and several Commuter Rail lines. Charles/MGH Station, to the west, serves the Red Line, and Bowdoin Station, off New Chardon Street, serves the Blue Line.
The Dynamic History of the West End
The West End is famous for its rich history. At least a dozen prominent abolitionists were born in the neighborhood, as well as the founder of Berklee College of Music, Lawrence Berk. With suffragists, mayors, and other civic leaders also getting their start in the West End, it’s almost as though the people born in this neighborhood were destined for action and participation in community.
Transportation was always very important in the West End, and it showed that the neighborhood was on the cutting edge. The city built bridges in the late 18th century to connect the neighborhood to northern cities. The West End was also a helpful terminus for goods coming in via the Middlesex Canal. In the very early 1800s, the city used land from Beacon Hill as infill to connect the West End to the North End in the place of a small bay. This made way for rail coming through the neighborhood to transport goods. In the mid-19th century, Bowdoin Square in the Southeast corner of the neighborhood held the original MBTA’s horse-drawn railroad to Harvard Square.
1958 Urban Renewal Project
The area was bustling, so it was only natural that the urban renewal project of the 1950s would bring a brand new highway through the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the urban renewal project continues to be extremely well-known amongst urban planners, architects, and historians as one of Boston’s greatest mistakes.
The reason for the famed controversy of this urban renewal project was that the city razed most of the neighborhood to make way for progress. The oldest buildings remaining in the neighborhood lie around Bowdoin square on the southeast corner of the West End, including the Bulfinch Triangle building, Otis House, and the Old West Church. In the late 18th century, when Otis House was built, this square was a very stylish spot to reside. However, because many of the important residents had since moved to Beacon Hill in the 20th century, city officials did not hold a stake in the remaining historic culture of the West End. The city used eminent domain to displace twenty thousand people, moving them to housing that did not compare to the original historic row houses of the West End.
The West End’s Remaining Historical Landmarks
Charles Street Jail, Now Liberty Hotel
The Charles Street Jail was an amazing work of architecture designed by Gridley James Fox Bryant in 1851. Much of its noteworthiness is a result of its famous inmates, such as Malcom X – a civil rights activist, James Michael Curley – a former Boston mayor, and many suffragists who protested the women’s right to vote.
If it were not a prison, it would have been a very luxurious building. It had 33-foot tall arched windows and a 90-foot tall octagonal atrium. Given the structure’s stunning features, it made perfect sense to renovate it into a luxury hotel after the jail closed. Liberty Hotel architects maintained the original windows, atrium, and beautiful stone masonry. You will not only get to see the architectural beauty of the building, but you can relax in one of the several restaurants or bars cleverly named for jail-related humor.
Massachusetts General Hospital, Bulfinch Building
Designed by the famous Charles Bulfinch in 1818, you will see this building and wonder if it is an estate that belongs on many acres of land and forest. It has a gorgeous portico with a pitched roof and ionic columns. The Bulfinch Building is Classical Revival style due to the aforementioned elements and the strong emphasis on symmetry. The juxtaposition of the modern hospital buildings behind it shows the distinct beauty of old and new that the West End embodies. The building also contains the Ether Dome, which is a surgical operating amphitheater named for the first ether anesthesia used to remove a tumor from a patient’s neck.
Old West Church
There was originally a wood-frame church building on this site. British soldiers destroyed it during the American Revolution. They suspected revolutionaries of using the old church to signal soldiers. However, as history tells us, it was in fact the Old North Church in the North End where the Continental Army was using two lanterns as a signal to troops. Built in the Federal style in 1806, Asher Benjamin served as architect of the Old West Church. The Federal style was characterized by symmetry, doric pillasters, and tall rectangular windows. For 66 years, in the early 20th century, the community used the Old West Church as a library. Later, in 1961, the United Methodist Church purchased the historic building.
Otis House Museum
Harrison Otis was born in the mid-18th century and grew up during the time of the American Revolution. Otis was a prominent lawyer who became a United States Senator and later became the third mayor of Boston. He hired Charles Bulfinch to design this Federal-style mansion. It was only fitting that he lived in such a grand mansion, built by one of the most prominent home architects in the most prominent area of the city at the time. Bulfinch later worked on the design of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. Today, the Otis House is a museum that celebrates the lives of Harrison Otis and Sally Foster Otis during the earliest years of the nation. The mansion’s design replicates the style of the time. You can visit the museum every day except Mondays and Tuesdays between April and November.
West End Museum
Although not in an historic building, this museum holds the memories of history lost in the West End neighborhood. If you are interested in connecting to your new neighborhood’s culture, this would be the best place to learn about it. The museum came from the same motivation as the West Ender Newsletter that Jim Campano created in 1985. His vision was to share the stories of those who lived in the West End before the urban renewal project. Because neighbors were scattered around the city, Campano would publish letters to those looking for old friends who used to be neighbors in order to maintain the community’s spirit. The West End Museum has a similar community-oriented mission to preserve the spirit of the neighborhood through various exhibits.
You might also be interested to explore the famous actors, artists and performers that grew up in the West End. For instance, Leonard Nimoy, the original Spock of the Star Trek franchise, grew up in the neighborhood. There is such an abundance of history in this neighborhood that you will have plenty to learn when you visit.
Community Spaces & Neighborhood Resources
Education in the Neighborhood
The neighborhood itself has two private schools with a range of age groups. The Advent School hosts elementary school aged children and the Boston Children’s School teaches early childhood education up until the 1st grade.
Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)
There is something reassuring about living close to the #1 hospital on the East Coast. MGH sits on a large area of the West End, and it covers everything from emergency medicine to primary care. It is a profound research institution, and there has been an amazing history of medical discoveries here as briefly stated above.
Alfond Memorial Spray Deck
In the summer, Boston gets hot and humid. To beat the heat, a great place to spend the day might be at the Alfond Memorial Spray Deck. For a simple recreational area with sprinklers, it is certainly a hit with local children as a place to cool off on a hot day.
Charles Bank Playground
With sweeping views of the Charles River, it is a surprisingly serene place for children to play. In order to cross Storrow Drive, you will need to take the pedestrian overpass at Blossom St. This playground is adjacent to the Alfond Memorial Spray Deck. On the opposite side of the playground, there are also multi-purpose courts for basketball, roller hockey, and other sports. There is a state police barracks not 500 feet from the playground, and it is right around the corner from the Museum of Science.
Nashua Street Park
This green area along the Charles River is the perfect picnic spot. While you are touring West End homes for sale, you should make sure to pack a blanket and some snacks to experience the tranquility of the water with a beautiful view of the majestic Zakim Bridge. There is a strong likelihood that you will spend summer weekends visiting the secret path that runs by the water when you move into the neighborhood.
Russell Museum of Medical History and Innovation
With a collection of permanent exhibits, a lecture series, and temporary exhibits, this small museum is full of fascinating information. The Russell Museum specifically focuses on the advances that Massachusetts General Hospital has made, like the first ether anesthesia use. By visiting this museum, you will feel a lot more connected to the history of intellect and innovation for which the city of Boston is famous.
Teddy Ebersol’s Red Sox Fields
In 2004, a tragedy struck Dick Ebersol, then Chairman of NBC Universal Sports & Olympics, and actor Susan Saint James. Their son, Teddy Ebersol, died in a plane crash. The Esplanade Association and Hill House nonprofit named this wonderful green space along the Charles River Esplanade for Teddy due to his love of the Red Sox. The park has a t-ball diamond, youth baseball field, and two baseball diamonds. Children and adults are welcome at the fields for organized games.
This path and circular plaza behind Massachusetts General Hospital is a great place to pop outside for benchside lunch on a Saturday, or if you happen to live and work in the same neighborhood.
West End Branch of the Boston Public Library
The West End Branch is located right beside the Old West Church, which served as a library for many years between private ownership. This building features the midcentury architecture by Maginnis, Walsh, and Kennedy that came about from the West End Redevelopment Project, and is a wonderful public resource of which you should take advantage. This branch has excellent events for all interests including Yoga for Seniors, an Italian Heritage Film Series, Homework Help, and Tai Chi.
West End Community Center
The West End Community Center (WECC) hosts events to bring neighbors together for both children and adults. Providing access to everything from yoga classes and a softball team to legal advice and lending assistance, WECC is a great resource to use and become involved in. Look out for events like the annual Halloween Parade or the West End Children’s Festival.
A Center of Boston Sports Pride & Entertainment
The Home of the Boston Celtics and the Boston Bruins
Boston is a city with incredible pride for its teams, making the TD Garden basically a local community center. Whether you are Celtics or Bruins fan right now, it will probably be impossible not to become a diehard fan when you are living in the West End. Similar to the long history of the Boston Red Sox baseball team, the Boston Bruins is the oldest American hockey team in the National Hockey League. The Bruins have seen 5 conference championships and an additional 5 Stanley Cup wins over their nearly 100 year history.
You could be a regular part of the energy in the neighborhood if you enjoy wearing Boston sports spangled gear. Even if you are unable to attend the games regularly, you might grab a drink at your local bar to watch the game live on television with friends. Another reason you might spend time at the Garden is for a large concert or visiting the Sports Museum.
Located inside TD Garden, the Sports Museum is open daily between 10 am and 4 pm, with some interruptions for scheduled games. It pays homage to the history of all New England sports from baseball to the Boston Marathon. There is a collection of memorabilia and sculptures of famous figures from several different sports.
Expanding Your Knowledge in the West End
While Cambridge has Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is rich in scientific history, the Museum of Science calls the West End home. This museum takes up nearly all of the real estate along the Route 28 bridge. There are so many things to do in this museum, that you could take a weekend here and call it a staycation. In fact, children up to the 7th grade can experience a Museum Overnight with their class for a special experience.
The museum has many video and virtual reality experiences to explore. For instance, you can sit back and watch a planetarium show in the Charles Hayden Planetarium. You may explore the far reaches of the universe or enjoy a visual music experience with Music Under the Dome. On the other hand, you can grab a ticket to a Thrill Ride 360° immersive virtual reality show where the seats actually move. If you are in the Roller Coaster program, you may actually feel like you are twisting and turning. Similar to the Thrill Ride 360°, 4D shows are not only high definition programs that you can watch, but they have special effects like wind so you will really feel like you are in the environment with the characters.
Along with video experiences at the museum, there are many permanent educational exhibits to explore that focus on natural history, including the Butterfly Garden, Dinosaurs, Fossils, Natural Mysteries and more. If you are interested in the history of the city, you can hop on a famous Duck Boat to tour on land and water all over the city. It picks you up at the museum, and while this is generally a tourist attraction, you may love the ease with which you can take guests to an amazing experience right in your neighborhood.
Restaurants That Are Neighborhood Staples
The Bulfinch Social, a new restaurant in the Boxer Hotel, is named after the famous architect Charles Bulfinch. He not only designed the Flatiron Building in 1904, in which the hotel resides, but also many of the homes in the original West End. The restaurant serves New American cuisine and local flavors. Since you won’t just be visiting the neighborhood, this could be your regular spot for a nice celebratory meal or simply a well-cooked fish filet.
City Winery is a new addition to the large music venue scene located in the West End. If you are more interested in seeing a show of emerging artists rather than the huge stars that TD Garden features, this might be a regular spot for you. Not only is there music, but City Winery also serves lovely Mediterranean style food and more than 20 wines that City Winery makes in-house from grapes sourced from the West Coast and Latin America. It is the perfect spot for a romantic date night, a lively night out, and a summer wine garden experience.
Sports Illustrated once named The Fours the best sports bar in America, and it could become your regular Game Day spot. When you are touring West End homes for sale, you should make sure to go on a Game Day so you can really get a feel for the neighborhood. The Fours is named after Bobby Orr, #4, and does not skimp on the amount of pride it has for the legacy of Boston sports. It’s been serving Sam Adams since 1976, and if you are a beer drinker, you might be required to get one on draft.
McGann’s Irish Pub
Hailing from Doolin, Ireland, this historic pub has a homey feel. Whether you are heading to the TD Garden after a drink, hoping to watch a Manchester United game, or listening to a local fiddler, this is the kind of bar where you become a regular. On their calendar, they post all of the concerts and games happening at TD Garden so you know whether you want to wander to that area, or stay on the south side of the West End to avoid the crowd.
West End Johnnie’s
If an Irish Pub or The Fours isn’t your style of sports bar, West End Johnnie’s is a level up. It has a classier feel, and a short rib that will make you feel extra content while cheering on the home team. On Sundays, West End Johnnie’s is packed with people jamming out during Reggae Brunch. If you are feeling like having an energized Sunday experience, this is the place for you.
This gallery has been featuring local artists since 1978. While each artist has a different take on the local scene, each piece depicts something special about the Boston-New England area. They will leave you with a great pride for your city. You might call ahead to schedule a visit to the space and pick up your new local print to hang in your West End home.
Investing in the West End
Hopefully you have learned a lot about the neighborhood you may one day call your home. If you are still on the fence about investing in one of the West End homes for sale, knowing whether or not the vibe is right could make or break your decision. Since the 1950s, this neighborhood has transformed into a hip, vibrant section of Boston. The homes for sale will likely have sweeping views of Downtown or the Charles River. It has a cosmopolitan look without feeling too reserved, especially because the northeast side of the neighborhood is energetic with Boston sports fans.
Different interests will drive your experience of the neighborhood. If you would rather have bustling business commuters outside your building’s door, stick to the southwest side of the neighborhood. In the evening, this area will be relaxed and serene. If the lively bar goers and sports fans give you energy, you should look for West End homes for sale on the northeast corner of the neighborhood. Buying a home in any part of the neighborhood will be a good investment due to the amazing resources in every corner of this community and the historically increasing property values.