Back Bay/Commonwealth Avenue
One of the most notable reasons that Boston is such a pleasant walking city is its pockets and swaths of green spaces.
Boston is very green by design. Not just Irish and St. Patrick’s Day green, but green spaces with trees.
Boston was one of the first cities to embrace the philosophy that greenways, blueways and open spaces soften a city’s rough edges and have a calming effect.
From this egalitarian stance, the seven-mile “Emerald Necklace” was carved in and around the city by the Olmsted Brothers and Charles Sprague Sargent in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
One of the finest gems in the necklace is stately Commonwealth Avenue Mall (“Com Ave.”) that cuts through fashionable Back Bay. Flanked by American Elms along its entire length, the mall was a critical element of the Emerald Necklace design when it was completed 125 years ago.
These Elms still serve an important role: as the first hint to passersby that the holidays are upon us. Suddenly one day after Thanksgiving, white lights will appear as if by magic. Boston’s city crews get busy as elves doing a remarkable job of delicately accessorizing each tree with strands of twinkling diamonds. In no time at all the graceful concourse becomes a galaxy of glitter.
Com Ave is a wonderful stretch of green to stroll through, with statues and benches. The mall is made more enjoyable by the fanciful mansions and townhouses lining the avenue. Many of the buildings display a French flare, and not surprisingly, the Alliance Française is located in one of these impressive Back Bay beauties.
Many of the streets of Back Bay pass by brick Georgian style row houses similar to Beacon Hill, but unlike its more elegant and demure neighbor, Back Bay is interspersed with very large ornate and stately homes. The Back Bay is more expressive of wealth and savoir faire, most notably along Com Ave. C’est très chic!