Thriving neighborhood with Victorian squares and rowhouses
The South End is a thriving and evolving Boston neighborhood known for its distinctive Victorian rowhouses surrounded by parks and English-style squares. The South End’s district of Victorian rowhouses spans 300 acres, making it the largest such district in the United States. The neighborhood’s eclectic attractions include the galleries and studios of the SoWa Art & Design district, some of Boston’s trendiest bistros and restaurants, chic boutique shopping, and a vibrant nightlife scene.
Parks and English-style squares
SoWa Art & Design district
This hip neighborhood has been very diverse since it was first established in the 19th century. The South End was a melting pot of African-American, Greek, Irish, and Lebanese communities in the 1880s. Since the 1940s, the South End has been at the heart of Boston’s LGBT community. It was also Boston’s jazz mecca throughout the first half of the 20th century and still boasts an exciting music scene. In addition, the South End has a thriving arts scene centered on the SoWa district.
The South End is teeming with diverse dining, shopping, cultural attractions, and nightlife. Wally’s Café is one of the United States’ longest-operating jazz clubs. Wally’s opened at the height of the South End’s jazz heyday in 1947 and still features live music every night of the year. The Beehive at the Boston Center for the Arts also offers nightly live jazz performances and a great brunch menu earlier in the day. J.J. Foley’s Café is a historic Irish pub that has been a neighborhood favorite since 1909. Newer additions to the South End’s buzzing nightlife scene include kitsch dive bar Delux Café and innovative speakeasy and eatery Wink & Nod.
Highlights of the South End’s trendy dining scene include gourmet Spanish tapas at Toro, fresh seafood at B&G Oysters, prime steaks and raw bar items at Boston Chops, and flame-roasted pizza at Picco. The Butcher Shop offers premium quality meat to take home alongside a wine bar pairing varied varietals with artisanal charcuterie and antipasti.
The South End is also a shopping haven, with stylish boutiques including South American furniture store Diseno and whimsical womenswear retailer Flock. SoWa Open Market opens on Saturday mornings between May and October and features more than 20 food trucks, farm-fresh produce, and unique artworks and handicrafts.
The South End’s brick sidewalks and rowhouses make it one of the prettiest places in Boston to explore on foot. The neighborhood features a series of 11 19th-century parks inspired by English residential squares. These parks are usually elliptical and often feature a fountain at their center.
SoWa describes the area south of Washington Street that is known for its many artists’ studios, galleries, and exhibition spaces. The SoWa Artists Guild at 450 Harrison Avenue hosts monthly First Friday celebrations where you can see the work of more than 200 artists. The Mills Gallery at Boston Center for the Arts is another creative hub with regular exhibits from talented contemporary artists. Boston Center for the Arts also features the Cyclorama, a stunning space that has hosted many performances, exhibitions, and conferences since it was built in 1884.
South End is served by the Boston Public School District. Highlights include:
Joseph J. Hurley School, Public, PK-8
Blackstone Elementary School, Public, PK-5
Carter Developmental Center, Public, 7-12
Cathedral High School, Private (Christian), 7-12