Best Neighborhoods in Boston: Spotlight on Back Bay Real Estate
by Nick Warren
on Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 at 2:01pm.
It’s no surprise that Back Bay is not only one of Boston’s most popular neighborhoods, but one of America’s most-visited and well-loved places to boot. With Boston and Back Bay real estate booming, it’s also no surprise that many people are looking to move to a bustling, vibrant place like Back Bay. Picturesque waterfront views line this neighborhood’s backdrop, bike trails and parks tap into the outdoors-man in us all, and boutiques and eateries contribute to the awe of this neighborhood.
Back Bay has gone through a lot of change throughout the century, and each and every chapter of this neighborhood’s life contributes to an incredible story and rich Back Bay real estate market.
History of Back Bay
Long before the Prudential Tower and the John Hancock Tower helped to define Boston skyline, Back Bay was an actual bay separating Boston from Cambridge. As a tidal marsh bay, the water level in Back rose and fell daily with the tides revealing marshy wetlands when the tide was out. The bay bed began to be filled in during the late 1800s after a project to build a mill dam and toll road from Boston to Newton was unsuccessful. That milldam may very well have been the last unsuccessful project in Back Bay.
In 1856, architect Arthur Gilman, influenced by recent visits to Paris, began the building of Back Bay as a planned, fashionable residential neighborhood. Gilman envisioned parallel avenues that were lined with trees and wider than other streets in Boston. This influence is clearly evident in the east-west roads, Beacon Street through Boylston Street and the north-south roads which intersect them. Due to unexpected delays, the bay was filled in slowly one block at a time. As a result, you can see the progression of a Back Bay as a neighborhood in the architectural changes from one block to the next.
The first commercial buildings in Back Bay began to be built on Newbury Street in the 1880s and then on Boylston Street in the early 1900s. Although some of this commercial development involved the creation of new buildings, many businesses repurposed the current residential buildings for commercial enterprises. As a result, even as the neighborhood shifted from primarily residential to a greater mix of commercial and residential, the distinctive and cohesive architecture of Back Bay remained. In order to preserve the unique character of this coveted neighborhood, Boston created the Back Bay Architectural Commission to regular changes to the exteriors of buildings in Back Bay. The neighborhood is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
What Is It Like?
From its wide, tree-lined corridors and iconic rows of brownstone houses to the boutiques and specialty shops along Newbury Street, Back Bay is unlike any other neighborhood in Boston. Residents of Back Bay have a wealth of trendy restaurants, chic salons, boutique offices, and unique shops including international retailers all within easy walking distance.
In addition to the fantastic shops, Back Bay is home to some of the most beautiful green spaces in Boston. The Charles River Esplanade is a stunning riverside park that runs for the entirety of the riverfront border of Back Bay and beyond. Playgrounds, recreational facilities, and community events are only a few of the things that draw millions of visitors to the Esplanade each year. All summer long, the Hatch Shell presents free public concerts. The Boston Pops, Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and guest performers fill the summer air with music. Although no summer concert event is as anticipated or well-loved as the annual Fourth of July Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. This free, public celebration is a two-day event and draws crowds from around the world to the Hatch Shell on the Charles River Esplanade.
What’s Next for Real Estate?
When most people think of Back Bay real estate, they envision the famous brownstone homes that line Beacon Street, Marlborough Street, and Commonwealth Avenue. These gorgeous properties are worth watching since they never stay on the market for long, but they are far from the only desirable options on the Back Bay real estate market. The luxury high rises in the Back Bay help to make it one of the best neighborhoods in Boston.
The Clarendon, One Dalton, The Mandarin Oriental, and the Carlton House are all highly coveted properties within Back Bay that offer luxurious living in the Boston. Whether you prefer the panoramic views of the Clarendon or the Mandarin Oriental signature blend of Oriental style and Boston elegance, there are residences for every style in Back Bay.
What You Can Expect to Pay
Back Bay real estate has a large window when it comes to price ranges. While the median sales price is $856,000, a 2 bedroom home can sell for $4.3 million. On average, 2 bedroom homes in Back Bay are close to the $1.5 million price tag. But it is important to recognize that the variety of styles and properties in Back Bay make it difficult to make these types of estimations. Factors such as the square footage, building floor, and the view can have a significant impact on price.
The Bottom Line
The truth is Back Bay is absolutely one of the best neighborhoods in Boston. When you live in Back Bay you have world-class shopping, a variety of dining options, and some of the best public green spaces in the city right outside your front door. If you are looking for a home in Back Bay, the best thing to do is to speak with a local Back Bay real estate agent. The importance of local expertise cannot be understated. Contact us to speak to one of our local, Back Bay real estate experts today.