Friday, April 8, 2016

Boston through the lens of history, archictecture, and cafes - a weekend getaway

I used to think cobblestone streets were only found in Europe and rows of townhouses were only dreamy in the city of Montreal. That was until I set foot in the city of Boston. Strewn with brick homes and a rich history, Boston
reinvigorated my interest in the American Revolution and Paul Revere's ride.


Boston is the capital of Massachusetts and was founded by English Puritans in 1630, making it one of the oldest cities in the U.S. Many events participating in the American Revolution can be visited while following a red and grey brick trail, called the Freedom Trail. Although this trail can be strategically followed, we chose to follow it in pieces to see where it would lead. We then used our iPhones whenever we were curious for more information. If you prefer a more organized tour, there are various guided tours that you can sign up for. One stop along the Freedom Trail is in Boston's North End neighborhood, along a very slight incline, where a wooden house appears among the bricks, home to Paul Revere.

Paul Revere's Home in North End Neighborhood

As you may know Paul Revere was most known for his role during the American Revolution as he rode to Lexington on April 18, 1775 to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock that the British were coming to arrest them. For fear of being restricted from leaving Boston, Paul Revere had planned for Robert Newman to climb the steeple of the Old North Church with two lit lanterns to signal to the Sons of Liberty, in Charlestown, that the British were coming by sea and not by land. 
Old North Church, also known as Christ Church - "one if by land, two if by sea"
As you continue to follow the trail, you are brought along other sites, such as the Boston Massacre in front of the Old State House; the Granary Burying Ground, which is the burial site of Paul Revere, John Hancock, Samuel Adams, the victims of the Boston Massacre, and many others; Bunker Hill, and Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

South Market building - Faneuil Hall Marketplace
Faneuil Hall Marketplace was built in 1742 as a gift to the city, creating a marketplace for vendors to sale their meat and produce. It is also the site in which colonists first protested the Sugar Act, demanding "no taxation without representation" (Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 2016). After undergoing revitalization, today it is the location of several shops and eateries. Along the bottom floor of the Quincy Market building is a hallway with vendors along both sides, serving up a variety of food selections. We ate Italian sausage and lobster bisque, which were both very flavorful. It was also the first time I had ever tried lobster bisque, and I'm beginning to think I like it more than clam chowder.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace
The history of Boston also influences the roots of higher education in the United States, as it's the birth site of the first US public university, Harvard. Harvard has built a legacy of prestigiousness, leadership, impact, and success. Several well-known leaders, actors, and professionals, such as President Barack Obama, Ashley Judd, Bill Gates, and President George W. Bush, can all boast a background that includes a Harvard education. Even Hollywood has incorporated plots and scenes involving Harvard, such as Suits, The Social Network, Legally Blond, and Goodwill Hunting.

Harvard University
Although we didn't walk around the entire campus, we did wander by some of the residential housing, the library, the theater, and a few of the academic buildings. Harvard felt like it's own community, with buildings that all complimented each other with their similar features and color, yet still alluring with subtle unique details and designs. I think if we would have explored the campus a little more, we may have come across some modern structures.

Memorial Hall - Harvard University
University Hall (the white building) - Harvard University

The thing I enjoyed most about Boston was the architecture, especially in the neighborhoods of Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and North End. These neighborhoods were so charming and full of character. Back Bay reminded me a lot of Montreal with the parallel streets containing rows of homes. There was so much detail to look at, from the different sized bay windows, to the unique arches over doors and windows, to the contrasting colors of red brick against white, black, and beige buildings. Back Bay is also home to the popular Newberry Street, which is filled with several brand name stores, restaurants, and cafes.

Back Bay
Newberry Street - Back Bay
Not too far from Back Bay is Beacon Hill, where the famous cobblestone street, Acorn Street, is found. Although this neighborhood is considered one of the more wealthier neighborhoods in Boston, the streets and little shops and cafes make it very welcoming. Because the streets were very pedestrian friendly, this neighborhood was perfect for walking around and admiring the details to each building. I kept trying to choose which building would be my dream home if I lived in Boston, and it was so difficult to decide, because I couldn't make up my mind about which windows I loved most.

Beacon Hill
I will say that the green window below was a very strong contender. Let's just say that I had a lot of window envy while walking through these neighborhoods.

Beacon Hill
Acorn Street - Beacon Hill
North End also had smaller roads that weaved in and out, making it feel more cozy and pedestrian friendly. North End is where you'll find Neptune Oyster for some incredible seafood and where you'll find delicious Italian food, as it is also home to Little Italy. I discovered my love for fried seafood, after eating fried mussels from Neptune Oyster and fried calamari from Panza. 

The reason for the Italian influence in North End can be associated with the history of immigration in this neighborhood. Although immigrants were coming from European countries, such as England, Germany, and Ireland, by 1920, 90% of the neighborhood were all of Italian background (Boston Landmarks Commission, 1995). 

North End Neighborhood
While exploring these neighborhoods, we began to notice how often we would see churches tucked away in another corner or front and center along a busy street or square. If you've seen the recent movie Spotlight, the reality of the influence of the Catholic archdiocese on Boston life felt more real. These buildings felt so much a part of the city and their architecture added even more depth and character to the life of the city.

Trinity Church was one of two churches we stepped into. As you walk inside, past the main corridor and enter the auditorium, the darkness of the room draws your eyes down the center, towards the light eliminating from the seven stained glass windows above the stage, and up the wall towards the ceiling where the words, "Blessing and honour and glory" are written. When we had arrived, they had just finished one of their Good Friday services, so as we entered, we took a seat in the back pew and sat in silence as those who hadn't left yet, continued to gaze at the empty cross on the stage, a symbol of Christ's death and his resurrection.

Trinity Church
Trinity Church
Across from Trinity Church is the Boston Public Library, which not only boasts beautiful architecture, but also beautiful art. You can view more photos of this place, from another post I've written, here. We visited this place twice and read and studied alongside many others in the McKim room.

Boston Public Library - McKim room

Boston Public Garden and Boston Common are paired right next to each other and surrounded by beautiful buildings, with the neighborhoods of Back Bay and Beacon Hill close by. This expansive space is an ideal spot for picnics, throwing around a frisbee, running, or simply sitting and people watching.

Boston Common
Boston Public Garden
Boston Common
Boston Public Garden
Views along the water's edge are also beautiful and serene, making it an ideal spot for running, taking your dog for a walk, or just strolling. 


Finding cute cafes that serve great food is always on my priority list of things to find before visiting a a new city. Perhaps it's because it's a combination of three of my favorite things, interior design, coffee, and sweets. Although we visited a few different cafes, my favorite cafe, which did these three things well was Tatte Bakery and Cafe. I highly recommend their strawberry and mascarpone croissant. A couple other cafes that also offered great coffee and pastries were the Thinking Cup and Crema Cafe.

Tatte Bakery & Cafe - Beacon Hill
Tatte Bakery & Cafe - Beacon Hill
Tatte Bakery & Cafe - Cambridge
Boston has quickly become one of my favorite cities in the United States and I believe it really is due to these three areas of architecture, history, and cafes. I love when the roots of a city can still be blatantly seen in the modern culture and structures of today and I love when good coffee and pastries are easily accessible.


1. Freedom Trail
2. Walking around Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and North End
3. Breakfast at Tatte Bakery and Cafe and Crema Cafe
5. Dinner at Neptune Oyster and Panza
6. Coffee at Thinking Cup
7. Walking around Harvard University
10. Gelato at Amorino
12. Walking through Boston Common and Boston Public Garden


Boston Landmark Commission (1995). North End: Exploring Boston's Neighborhoods. Retrieved April 7, 2016 from

Faneuil Hall Marketplace (2016). History. Retrieved April 8, 2016 from


  1. Beautiful photos of Boston, Esther! They bring back so many lovely memories.

    1. Thank you Laura! I'm so glad to hear they bring back good memories. I feel like my pictures don't even come close enough to how amazing the city is. The city really exceeded my expectations.