Boston Neighborhoods

A panorama of Boston's Back Bay

The City of Boston is comprised of many neighborhoods, each with a unique history and diverse population.  The descriptions below are sourced from the the official website of the city of Boston.


The varied mix of people in Allston creates an energetic and diverse culture that is supported by a large student population. Harvard Avenue, Commonwealth Avenue, and Brighton Avenue host many ethnic restaurants and popular watering holes.

Back Bay

Newbury Street, Boylston Street, and Commonwealth Avenue are lined with unique shops, trendy restaurants, and vintage homes, making the Back Bay a destination for Boston residents and visitors. This bustling neighborhood also houses the two tallest members of Boston's skyline, the Prudential Center and the John Hancock Tower, in addition to architectural finds such as Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library.

Bay Village

One of the smallest neighborhoods in the City of Boston, Bay Village more than makes up for its lack of size with its inviting and friendly atmosphere. Created by a landfill in the 1820's by developer Ephraim Marsh, the neighborhood is also centrally located to several restaurants, the Theater District and many other cultural attractions.

Beacon Hill

One of Boston's oldest communities, Beacon Hill gets its name from a beacon that once stood atop its hill to warn locals about foreign invasion. Beacon Hill is home to the Massachusetts State House and America's first African Meeting House as well as many notable Americans, including Louisa May Alcott, Oliver Wendell Homes, Daniel Webster, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath, and Senator John Kerry.


Brownstones, multi-family homes, and condominiums line the streets of this architecturally-diverse, welcoming neighborhood, which is located in the northwest corner of Boston on the shores of both the Charles River and the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. Families, young professionals, and graduate students are drawn to Brighton for its tranquil yet lively atmosphere. Brighton is often twinned with Allston, as a peninsula of the city called "Allston-Brighton".


Established in 1705, Brookline is a suburb of Boston made up of traditional New England shops and dwellings interspersed with parks and running and walking trails. The neighborhoods of Coolidge Corner, Washington Square, and Cleveland Circle are found along Brookline’s main thoroughfare, Beacon Street; other notable sections include Brookline Village, Brookline Hills, Chestnut Hill, and North and South Brookline.


Just across the Charles River from Boston and technically its own city, Cambridge offers an exciting multicultural setting where visitors from around the world mingle in the shadow of two of the world's premier educational institutions: Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Teeming with cafés, bookstores, and boutiques, Cambridge is often referred to as "Boston's Left Bank". The neighborhood of Old Cambridge remains a residential, commercial, and academic center; the buildings here span four centuries of Cambridge history and have witnessed the development of a wilderness village into an international community.


Situated on the banks of Boston Harbor and the Mystic River on the north side of the city, Charlestown has translated its historical roots into a 21st century neighborhood. Home to such significant landmarks as the U.S.S. Constitution, the Bunker Hill Monument, and the Navy Yard, Charlestown's allure has brought in a new generation of immigrants and young professionals to join its traditionally Irish-American population.

Chinatown/Leather District

Located between the city's Financial District and Theater District, Chinatown is one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in Boston, as well as the third largest Chinese neighborhood in the country. In recent years, the Leather District, which is located between Chinatown, Downtown, and South Station, has emerged as a distinct Boston neighborhood of its own. The Leather District boasts a historic appeal while offering 21st-century amenities; renovated leather factories offer loft-style living, an appeal to many residents.


Dorchester, Boston's largest neighborhood, is also one of its most diverse; long-time residents mingle with newer immigrants from Ireland, Vietnam, and Cape Verde. Neighborhood pride is strong in Dorchester, as former residents have been known to wear T-shirts proclaiming "OFD" - "Originally From Dorchester." Bordered by the Neponset River and Boston Harbor, Dorchester residents enjoy the riverfront amenities of many parks as well as harbor beaches and boating opportunities.


Boston's center of business and government combine with the Boston Common and the Public Garden to form a dynamic downtown. It serves as a sanctuary for shoppers, offering everything from large department stores to cozy boutiques, as well as many of Boston's most historic sites such as Faneuil Hall.

East Boston

Originally a center of shipbuilding, East Boston has always been a neighborhood of immigrants; today its population is made up largely of Italian-Americans and immigrants from Central and South America and Southeast Asia. The housing is a mixture of old and new, including many restored triple-deckers. Logan Airport is located here, across Boston Harbor, making East Boston a gateway to people from around the world.


Perhaps most recognized as the home of Fenway Park and the Boston Red Sox, Fenway/Kenmore is also home to many colleges and universities.  Many of the students, as well as young people throughout the city, are drawn to its many cultural offerings, including the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall, as well as its active nightlife.

Hyde Park

As Boston's southernmost neighborhood, Hyde Park's community spirit is on display in the many small shops and restaurants along its main streets. The historic Neponset River runs through this neighborhood that was annexed to the City of Boston in 1912. It has captured the heart of former Mayor Thomas M. Menino, a lifelong resident.

Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain is a classic "streetcar suburb" that has evolved into an ethnically and culturally diverse neighborhood. Residents and visitors enjoy walking, biking, and running along Jamaica Pond situated on the Jamaicaway, part of Boston's Emerald Necklace.


The Native American Mattahunt Tribe once inhabited Mattapan in the early 1600's; since then, a diverse population of Irish, Jewish, and Haitian immigrants has settled here in large numbers. Today Mattapan's population is largely made up of African Americans and immigrants from the Caribbean.

Mission Hill

With the addition of mixed-income housing, Mission Hill consists of a large African American and Hispanic population, as well as a healthy collection of students from nearby colleges and young families who work in the Longwood Medical Area, making it a diverse neighborhood in Boston.

North End

Home to American patriot Paul Revere, the North End is one of Boston's most historic neighborhoods. Populated by a mixture of Italian Americans and young professionals who are attracted to the neighborhood's tight-knit feel and access to downtown, tourists come from near and far to sample authentic Italian cuisine, enjoy a cannoli or a cappuccino, and explore its narrow streets.


Once considered a "garden suburb" of Boston, today's residents of Roslindale are still attracted to the neighborhood's natural beauty; locals walk and bike in the Arnold Arboretum, a 265-acre oasis that is part of Frederick Law Olmstead's Emerald Necklace. Many of the neighborhoods' large colonial homes are being converted into condos to accommodate the influx of young professionals and families.


Once a farming community that today serves as the heart of African-American culture in Boston, Roxbury is undergoing a renaissance. Hundreds of new business and housing initiatives have revitalized the neighborhood's Nubian Square, Crosstown, and Grove Hall areas.


Somerville is known for its large number of squares, which help mark neighborhood boundaries while also featuring bustling businesses and entertainment centers; the most active today are Davis Square, Union Square, Ball Square, Teele Square, and Magoun Square.  The neighborhood is an eclectic mix of blue-collar families, young professionals, college students, and recent immigrants from countries as diverse as El Salvador, Haiti, and Brazil.

South Boston

Once a predominantly Irish Catholic community, South Boston has become increasingly desirable among young professionals and families who are attracted to the neighborhood's strong sense of community and quick access to downtown and public transportation. "Southie Pride" is on full display in March when city residents flock to the neighborhood to enjoy the annual South Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade. The South Boston Waterfront is also emerging as a new trendy hotspot.

South End

Located just minutes from downtown and the Back Bay, the South End has attracted a diverse blend of young professionals, families, and a vibrant gay and lesbian population to this Boston Landmark District. Some of Boston’s finest restaurants and nearly 30 parks can be found here.

West End

The West End, considerably impacted by Urban Renewal of the 1950's and 60's, is a small but significant community tucked behind Beacon Hill. Historically an ethnically diverse and vibrant neighborhood, it is economically anchored by Massachusetts General Hospital.

West Roxbury

West Roxbury, located in Boston's southwest corner, was originally home to a 19th century experimental, utopian community frequented by such notable writers as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Mostly single-family homes, this neighborhood, known for its civic activism and youth programming, has a suburban feel; residents flock to Millennium Park, a former landfill that has been converted into 100 acres of trails, ball fields, and picnic areas.

Information adapted from the City of Boston's Website.