neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

Not to be confused with South Boston.

Possessing the largest Victorian row house district in the country, the South End is one of Boston's most popular places. After many homes underwent renovation in the 1960s, upscale restaurants and art galleries sprang up, and the area has attracted a diverse blend of families, young professionals, a gay and lesbian community and a thriving artistic center.

Understand edit

Chilly and picturesque, snow settles among South End brownstones

In response to the crowded conditions throughout the downtown and Beacon Hill neighborhoods, the city of Boston decided to fill in tidal marshes to the south. Beginning sometime around the 1830s, a new inner city residential neighborhood was envisioned, with a large and stable tax base to draw from. Architect Charles Bulfinch was hired, who oversaw the infill of land and created a series of residential parks. Inspired by English residential town squares, most greenspace is artfully landscaped and ringed with attractive cast iron fencing. The buildings here were designed to be uniform five-story bowfront structures. To further accentuate the visual unity of the area, Bullfinch called for a common palette of brick, slate, limestone, and cast iron elements to be used.

At first, a burgeoning middle class moved to the South End including business owners. As new housing developments opened up, however, the Back Bay and Roxbury soon became the "it" neighborhoods, and the South End would slide into a tenement district by the end of the 19th century. Close to good railroad jobs and now more affordable, the South End quickly began to attract African-American families, and became a center of black middle class Boston life and culture. Known as a "Jazz Mecca" for the first half of the 20th century, when musicians like Duke Ellington and Cab Calloway performed in a myriad of area clubs.

More and more buildings fell into disrepair, and by the 1960s absentee landlordism was rampant and the neighborhood was one of the poorest of the city. At this point, Boston's city planners once again stepped in, knocking down blocks of dilapidated structures and replacing them with housing projects and areas of light industry. It was an imperfect solution, but it mostly worked out, and set the groundwork for the beautiful and diverse community residing in the South End today.

Get in edit

The Silver line glides up and down Washington Street

By public transit edit

The Orange Line is going to be your best option for accessing most of the South End. The Back Bay and Massachusetts Ave stations bring you close to the action. While the Ruggles station is in the neighborhood, most of the attractions are further north. The Green Line roughly parallels the Orange in this area, but the stations are slightly further away. One stop on the Red Line, Broadway, is great for accessing SoWa market and all the new developments in the South End's northeastern corner.

If the suburbs and beyond are where you're leaving/arriving from, Back Bay Station is for you. On the Commuter Rail, the Providence/Stoughton, Framinghham/Worcester, Needham, and Franklin lines all stop here. This is also a main stop for Amtrak with Acela Express, Northeast Regional, and Lake Shore Limited trains all heading further afield. This station is also the first stop for the #39 bus, which takes you south past the museums and into Jamaica Plain.

Another great option is the Silver Line, a bus rapid transit service running through the center of the neighborhood. From north to south the stops are: Herald St, East Berkeley St, Union Park St, Newton St, Worcester Sq, Massachusetts Avenue, and finally Lenox St. This bus can be helpful, as it passes by all the big commercial areas in the South End.

By foot edit

This is really the best way to see this minute neighborhood, barely over a mile across. As a point of reference, traversing the neighborhood would take the average person less than 30 minutes on foot. Walking from the Orange Line Mass Ave station, to the I-90 I-93 overpass next to downtown.

By car edit

Strongly not recommended. There are no parking garages in the South End, and virtually all on street parking is resident only. You'd have to park in a different neighborhood and walk in anyway, so what's the point of driving?

Get around edit

Map of Boston/South End

See edit

Beaux Arts and cherry blossoms found along a springtime stroll

There's not much to see in the South End in particular. The neighborhood is quite small and beautiful, so your best bet may be to just go for a stroll. The area has some of the most wonderfully restored brownstones, they really pop offset against the dramatic backdrop of Back Bay's skyscrapers. You will find scores of gardens and small parks tucked between the warren of intimate (and occasionally cobblestoned) streets. Evenings here are great for walking as well, as gas lamps flicker to life and light your path across care-worn bricks.

  • 1 Site of Boston town gate (T: Tufts Medical Center). 24 hours daily. At one time this route was the only way in or out of Boston. Still an isthmus in the early 17th century, the town was almost entirely surrounded by water. Here at the corner of Washington and E Berkeley streets Mayflower era colonists built gated earthworks to keep out natives and unwanted animals. A gallows stood outside the gate, where thieves and murderers would be executed. These defenses were constantly being improved, especially during the colonial era. As time went on, however, the water was filled in by earth and the gate lost its importance. Today there is no plaque or other signifier of this important spot, only a few signs at the nearby bus station. This noisy street corner could be easily skipped, or it could be a heady spot to contemplate the passage of time. Free.    

Galleries edit

Browse the varied galleries for a style that suits your discerning taste

This is a smattering of the galleries the South End has on offer. They can be found throughout the neighborhood, with the greatest number being concentrated in the SoWa Market area. Naturally. Its best to visit on the weekends, and better still on market days.

  • 2 L'Attitude Gallery, 460 Harrison Ave #8A (SoWa). Tu-Sa 10:30AM-5:30PM, Su noon-5PM.
  • 3 Adelson Galleries, 520 Harrison Ave (SoWa), +1 617 832-0633. W-Su noon-6PM.
  • 4 [formerly dead link] Mills Gallery, 539 Tremont St (Cyclorama), +1 617 426-5000. Su W noon-5PM, Th-Sa noon-9PM.
  • 5 Piano Craft Gallery, 793 Tremont St (T: Mass Ave (Orange)), +1 617 595-5638. F 6PM-8PM, Sa Su noon-5PM.
  • 6 Kijidome, 59 Wareham St #1A (SoWa), . Sa Su noon-5PM.
  • 7 Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave (SoWa), +1 617 482-7781. W-Su noon-6PM.
  • 8 M Fine Arts Galerie, 61 Thayer St (SoWa), +1 617 450-0700. 10AM-6PM daily. Founded in Soho, New York, it offers the best selection of contemporary European painters to its clients. M Fine Arts Galerie was established in 2016, continuing the work of Axelle after the previous owner passed away. You will find an ever-evolving selection of new, museum-quality paintings here, due to the exclusive representation of many European artists such as Patrick Pietropoli, Fabienne Delacroix, André Bourrié, Brian Stephens and Diana Nicosia.

Do edit

Or relax by the fountains in scenic Blackstone and Franklin squares
  • 1 Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St (Cyclorama), +1 617 426-5000. Times and locations vary. This non-profit coordinates multiple spaces in the South End, and is dedicated to hosting original events alongside visual and performing arts. Supports working artists by connecting them to the community, and patrons of the arts. Check the calendar daily for new performances, gallery openings, open studios, and more. The BCA has used the historic Cyclorama as its principal building since its inception in 1970. The city of Boston funded redevelopment costs in an effort to revitalize the South End area and the art scene. $0-50.    
  • 2 Matthews Arena, 238 St.Botolph Street (T: Massachusetts Ave), +1 617 373-2691. Today owned by Northeastern University, and was the original home of the Boston Bruins. Matthews Arena opened in 1910 and is the oldest multi-purpose athletic building still in use in the world. It has undergone significant renovations over the years, so expect state of the art if you're catching a game here.    
  • 3 Stir, 102 Waltham St (T: Back Bay), +1 617 423-7847. M-Sa noon-6PM. Part kitchen, part bookstore, part classroom. Pop in and browse, or reserve one of the 10 seats at Stir far in advance!

Events edit

  • 1 SoWa Art Walk: , 450 Harrison Ave (T: Broadway). 11AM-6PM. The SoWa Art Walk, an annual art festival held each spring, enables many artists to present their works and host open studios. Free. (date needs fixing)
  • 2 SoWa First Fridays: First Friday of every month, 450 Harrison Ave (T: Broadway). 5PM-9PM. During SoWa First Fridays, over 90 artists & galleries throughout SoWa stage their new 30-day shows, featuring the works of emerging and established painters, photographers and sculptors. Free.

Buy edit

The scene from Thayer and catwalk on SoWa First Fridays

Due to the number of artists & galleries in the neighborhood, SoWa has become a creative epicenter, attracting a wide range of art-enthused fans, creative minds, and unique events.

  • 1 SoWa Open Market, 530 Harrison Ave (T: Broadway). Su 10AM-4PM May 1-Oct 31. The SoWa Open Market is a vibrant collection of open air markets featuring over 150 local artisans, farmers, specialty food vendors and food trucks. This weekly event draws many thousands of visitors from across New England and beyond. The Market has four main components, the vintage market, the arts market, the farmer's market, and everyone's favorite, the beer & wine garden. This is In addition to the scores of everyday retailers, and highbrow art galleries housed in the surrounding buildings. This event is so popular, all nearby restaurants will have multi-hour table waits, and streets become almost impassable to vehicles. Yes, even your Uber will have a hard time picking you up here, so be prepared to walk. Free.    
  • 2 Viola Lovely, 1409 Washington St (SoWa), +1 857 277-0746. Clothing boutique.
  • 3 Boomerangs, 1407 Washington St (SoWa), +1 617 456-0996. Sa Su Tu W 11AM-6PM, Th F 11AM-7PM. Secondhand / thrift store with proceeds going to fight AIDS. This one has some pretty fancy stuff owing to its location.
  • 4 Polly Latham Antiques, 535 Albany St (T: Broadway), +1 617 723-7009. Sa Tu 11AM-5PM, W 10AM-5PM. Expensive antique shop focusing on Asian and early American ceramics.
  • 5 Gifted, 2 Dartmouth St (T: Back Bay), +1 617 716-9924. M-W 10AM-7PM, Th-Sa 10AM-8PM, Su 11AM-6PM. More affordable knick-knacks and decor crafted by area artists. Locally owned.
  • 6 Ore Jewelry, 80 Dartmouth St (T: Back Bay), +1 617 247-7426. M-Sa 10AM-6PM. Custom and ready to wear high end jewelry.
  • 7 M. Flynn Jewelry, 40 Waltham St (SoWa), +1 617 292-0079. Tu-F 11AM-6PM Sa 11AM-5PM. A range of artisanal and designer jewelry from artists with various aesthetics.
  • 8 More Than Words Bookstore, 242 E Berkeley St (T: Broadway), +1 781 788-0035. Tu-F 10:30AM-7PM, Sa Su 10:30AM-4PM. Thousands of books line the walls of this bright, inviting space. A non-profit run by at risk youth and their mentors, training teens in business and professional skills.

Eat edit

This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Budget Under $20
Mid-range $20 - $40
Splurge Over $40

The South End has spent decades committed to increasing fine dining options, and it shows. Some of the best and most interesting cuisine in the city can be found right here, along with some of its most expensive! This list isn't exhaustive, there are many excellent restaurants in the neighborhood not listed here. Consider calling ahead for reservations for most any location, especially in the summertime and especially on Sundays when the SoWa Market is in full swing. Prices are generally spendy, but don't lose hope. Try some of the fancier places earlier in the day for brunch, you may find similar fare more affordably.

Budget edit

  • 1 Blackbird Doughnuts, 492 Tremont St (T: East Berkeley St), +1 617 482-9000. M-F 7AM-6PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM.
  • 2 Mike's City Diner, 1714 Washington St (T: Massachusetts Ave (Silver Line)), +1 617 267-9393. 6AM-3PM daily.
  • 3 Cafe Madeleine, 517 Columbus Ave (T: Massachusetts Avenue), +1 857 239-8052. 6:30AM-7PM daily.
  • 4 Charlie's Sandwich Shoppe, 429 Columbus Ave (T: Prudential), +1 617 536-7669. Tu-Su 7AM-2PM. $8-12.
  • 5 Ali's Roti Restaurant, 1035 Tremont St (T: Ruggles), +1 617 427-1079. W-Su 11AM-8PM.
  • 6 Addis Red Sea, 544 Tremont St (Cyclorama), +1 617-426-872. M-F 5PM-11PM, Sa-Su noon-11PM. Cheap and tasty Ethiopian food.
  • 7 Appleton Bakery Cafe, 123 Appleton St, +1 617-859-8222. 7AM-4PM daily. A great place to have lunch. The menu has variety of imaginative and delicious sandwiches as well as several prepared dishes changing daily. Appleton also brews very good coffee and caries an eclectic selection of chocolates and snack foods. There is a moderate amount of seating.

Mid-range edit

  • 8 The Butcher Shop, 552 Tremont St, +1 617-423-4800. Su-M noon-10PM, Tu-Th noon-11PM, F-Sa noon-midnight. This is a wine bar/French and Italian bistro, part of the No. 9 Group of Boston Restaurants (with No. 9 Park and B&G Oysters) serving fresh cuts of premium meat, a healthy variety of cheese, a wide and well-stocked selection of wines, and several house specialties.
  • 9 Franklin Cafe, 278 Shawmut Avenue (T: Union Park Street), +1 617 350-0010. 5:30PM-2AM daily. This place is very small and quickly gets crowded but it has great food and drinks. One of the only late-night (serves food until 1:45AM) restaurants nearby.
  • 10 Picco (Pizza and Ice Cream Company), 513 Tremont St (Cyclorama), +1 617-927-0066. Su-Tu 11AM-10PM, W-Sa 11AM-11PM. Gourmet pizza, calzones and ice cream. Great soup and sandwiches also on the menu.
  • 11 Estragon, 700 Harrison Ave, +1 617-266-0443. M-Sa 5PM-10PM. Spanish tapas restaurant. Unlike other tapas places in the Boston area, which tend to do Spanish fusion cooking, the tapas on the menu here are exactly what you would expect from a taperia in Spain.
  • 12 Mela Indian Cuisine, 578 Tremont St, +1 617-859-4805. 11:30AM-11PM daily. Contemporary Indian food near the corner of Tremont St. and Union Park. Fair prices, given the location and living costs of Boston, and the taste is great. They have special "Dinner for 2" package options for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians, which includes mulligatawny soup, samosas, naan bread, choice of 2 entrées, and choice of dessert.
  • 13 The Wholy Grain, 275 Shawmut Ave, +1 857-277-1531. M-Sa 7AM-6PM, Su 8AM-6PM. Small sandwich, pastry, and coffee place located in a not-quite-basement. They can get very busy, but the sandwiches are flavorful and the prices are more than fair for the trendy South End.
  • 14 Orinoco, 477 Shawmut Ave (T: Worcester Square), +1 617 369-7075. Tu-Sa noon-2:30PM 6PM-10PM, Su 11:30AM-10PM. Venezuelan.
  • 15 Slades Bar & Grill, 958 Tremont St (T: Mass Ave), +1 617 442-4600. Tu-Sa 11:30AM-2AM, Su 11:30AM-midnight. Basketball fans take note, this spot was owned by Bill Russell, one of the greatest NBA players, and a Boston Celtic from 1956 to 1969. This joint is known for its soul food paired with an R&B and soul soundtrack.
  • 16 Area Four, 264 E Berkeley St (T: Broadway), +1 857 317-4805. 5PM-2AM daily. Great pizza, great beer selection and cocktails. Mains $14-20.

Splurge edit

  • 17 Aquitaine, 569 Tremont Street (Cyclorama), +1 617 424-8577. M-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F 11:30AM-11PM, Sa 9AM-11PM, Su 9AM-10PM. A French bistro with great dinner and weekend brunch. Dinner will run about $120 including drinks, tax and tip. Brunch is much more affordable, around $15-20 a person. Small and slightly cramped, they take reservations for dinner and brunch. Starters $12-16, mains $28-32.
  • 18 Myers & Chang, 1145 Washington St (T: East Berkeley St), +1 617 542-5200. Su-Th 11:30AM-10PM, F Sa 11:30AM-11PM. Starters $9-16, mains $15-22.
  • 19 The Gallows, 1395 Washington St (T: Union Park St), +1 617 425-0200. M-W 5PM-midnight, Th-Sa 11:30AM-1AM, Su 11AM-11PM. Starters $10-18, mains $20-30.
  • 20 Toro, 1704 Washington St (T: Mass Ave (Silver Line)), +1 617 536-4300. M-F noon-midnight, Sa Su noon-1AM. $8-14 per tapa, so ~$40-70 for a full meal.
  • 21 Coppa, 253 Shawmut Ave (T: East Berkeley), +1 617 391-0902. M-Th noon-10PM, F noon-11PM, Sa 11AM-11PM, Su 11AM-10PM.
  • 22 SRV, 569 Columbus Ave (T: Mass Ave), +1 617 536-9500. 5PM-1AM daily.

Drink edit

Wally's Jazz Cafe: You can expect a crowd once the sun goes down.
  • 1 DeLux, 100 Chandler St, +1 617-338-5258. 5PM-1AM daily. A cute divey hangout right off of Clarendon St. The drinks are fairly cheap, the atmosphere is cozy and kitschy, and the food is delicious. Cash only.
  • 2 J.J. Foley's, 117 E Berkeley St (between Washington St and Harrison Ave), +1 617-338-7713. 10:30AM-2AM daily (food service ends Su-M 10PM, Tu-Th 11PM, F-Sa 12:30AM). Hard-drinking Irish bar with pub food.
  • 3 Boston Eagle, 520 Tremont St (Cyclorama), +1 617 542-4494. M-Sa 4PM-2AM, Su noon-2AM. Legendary gay bar, one of Boston's oldest.
  • 4 Wink & Nod, 3 Appleton St (T: Back Bay), +1 617 482-0117. M-Sa 5PM-2AM. Craft cocktails in a faux speakeasy.
  • 5 Wally's Cafe, 427 Massachusetts Ave (T: Massachusetts Ave), +1 617 424-1408. 11AM-1:30AM daily. South End institution for Jazz and other live music. There used to be scores of these tiny jazz joints all over the area many years ago. Wally's has stayed in business because they're the best. Berkeley students and longtime residents play to a friendly and diverse crowd. If you have a bad time here, that's on you!    
  • 6 Anchovies, 433 Columbus Ave (T: Prudential), +1 617 266-5088. M-Sa 4PM-2AM, Su 3PM-2AM.
  • 7 Five Horses Tavern, 535 Columbus Ave (T: Massachusetts Ave), +1 617 936-3930. M-F 11:30AM-midnight, Sa Su 10AM-midnight. Good mixed drinks and an extensive list of beers on tap. Drinks $6-12.

Coffee edit

  • 8 Flour, 1595 Washington St (T: Newton St), +1 617 267-4300. M-F 6:30AM-8PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 8AM-5PM.
  • 9 Jaho Coffee & Tea, 1651 Washington St (T: Worcester Square), +1 617 236-1680. 6:30AM-7:30PM.
  • 10 Render Coffee, 563 Columbus Ave (T: Massachusetts Ave), +1 617 262-4142. M-F 7AM-7PM, Sa Su 8AM-6PM.
  • 11 South End Buttery, 314 Shawmut Ave (T: Union Park St), +1 617 482-1015. Su-Th 6AM-10PM, F Sa 6AM-11PM.
  • 12 Caffé Nero, 564 Tremont St (Cyclorama), +1 617 982-7108. 7AM-9PM daily.
  • Farmers Horse Coffee, 374 Massachusetts Ave (T: Massachusetts Ave or Symphony), +1 617 866-7771. 7AM to 6PM Monday-Saturday, 8AM to 6PM Sunday. Eclectic coffee shop with cozy decor and covered outdoor seating. Limited indoor space so arrive early if you're planning on grabbing a seat. Fantastic baked-goods and free Wi-Fi.

Sleep edit

This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Budget Under $175
Mid-range $175 - $250
Splurge Over $250

Budget edit

  • 1 Revolution Hotel, 40 Berkeley St, +1 617 848-9200. Basic rooms accommodating one to four people depending on size. Shared bathrooms on each floor; the suites (up to four people) have private baths. Single room from $100 per night.
  • 2 Hampton Inn & Suites - Boston Crosstown Center, 811 Massachusetts Ave (T: Mass Ave (Sliver line)), +1 617 445-6400. Good quality hotel, but be warned it's right on the methadone mile. You won't really even notice if you're taking cabs everywhere, but this might not be the right choice for everyone. From $119.
  • 3 82 Chandler Street B&B, 82 Chandler St (T: Back Bay), +1 617 482-0408. Four guest rooms and one bedroom apartment, offered for short term stays or rental by the week or month. Gorgeous old restored four-story Victorian brick townhouse. All rooms with private baths, A/C, and free WiFi. From $145, 2-3 night minimum stay.
  • 4 Clarendon Square Bed and Breakfast, 198 W Brookline St (T: Back Bay), +1 617 536-2229. From $170.
  • The Upton, 592 Tremont St (T: Back Bay (Orange Line)), +1 617 266-0011, . Victorian building with 7 furnished units, offering short term and long term stays. Equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. From $125.

Mid-range edit

Connect edit

There is one library here offering free wi-fi, although you'll probably pick up a few overlapping signals from all the competing cafes and shops in the area.

  • 1 South End Branch (Boston Public Library), 685 Tremont St (T: Mass Ave), +1 617 536-8241. M W Th 10AM-6PM, Tu noon-8PM, F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-2PM.

Go next edit

  • If you somehow didn't find a restaurant to your liking, check out the Back Bay, another neighborhood with outstanding cuisine.
  • Already have tickets? Catch a game at historic Fenway Park in the center of Fenway-Kenmore.
  • To try out a few new dishes, walk over the Mass Pike and into Chinatown, a part of Downtown Boston.
  • After the SoWa market wraps up head west, over Interstate 93 and walk into Southie.
  • Get off the beaten track and into Roxbury, to see some fantastic colonial sites and Boston's biggest park.
Routes through South End
DowntownBack Bay  N   S  Mission HillEND

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