Every city has its pocket of charm that locals adore and visitors admire, but there are few in the New World as old and famous as Beacon Hill in Boston! The street’s charm comes from the gorgeous Georgian, Federal and Greek Revival style architectures seen all around Beacon Hill. There’s something inviting about walking from store to store in the chilled fresh air. And a few flurries adds to the ambiance!
Founded in 1630, Boston was established as a city in 1822. Beacon Hill began to take shape in 1845 and Charles Street at the ‘flat of the hill’ was the last section to be completed. Beacon Hill and neighboring Back Bay were created by filling in marshes with the dirt taken from the top of Beacon Hill’s original peaks.
Designated an historic district in 1955 (the city’s oldest), Beacon Hill residents take pride in retaining the charm and cache of their neighborhood for future generations, and support Charles Street’s role as the chic ‘main street’ of this blue-blooded neighborhood—especially at Christmas!
For holiday shopping, stores stay open late at least one night a week and at times have street wide events or treats to lure in customers, such as the Annual Christmas Stroll. This less harried way of shopping, graced with a little town feel within a large busy city, is such a more pleasant experience than dealing with crushing malls and mobbed department stores; at least to get a break from the pack now and then in search of unique gifts.
I can always find a few small, inexpensive and unusual gifts in these shops, along with the occasional, totally cool, very expensive kind. There are also chocolate shops for edible gifts or gift certificates to stores, restaurants or an inn.
My goal is to relish the overall experience of all the lights, displays and music to actually enjoy the hunt for a special gift and then grabbing a snack or beverage. The plan is to feel the Christmas spirit, not drop from fatigue and go broke!
If your shopping is all done, then exhale and treat yourself during the holidays. To truly appreciate the spell this street casts, visit Charles Street toward the end of the day, when the shops are closing and the street has quieted down. Only then will you hear the gaslights sizzle and pop as they flicker atop lampposts wrapped in greenery with big red bows.
Nearby churches often have rehearsals for their Christmas services and the public is usually welcome to listen. It’s amazing how beautifully these volunteer choirs sing.
With such a backdrop, it’s easy to imagine that Scrooge himself might come rushing by grumbling about Bob Cratchet! With all of the doorknockers in this historic neighborhood, who knows who else might suddenly appear?
p.s. Want something more energetic? Bring you skates and walk to the end of Charles Street, cross Beacon Street to the frozen Frog Pond ice rink at the Common! There will be many lit trees near the rink.