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Classic buildings

You can find examples of virtually every style of architecture in Boston, from colonial to federalist to Georgian to post-modernist.

But there are certain buildings that just say "Boston." These are the buildings that are uniquely Bostonian, the ones that help define the way we identify our city and set the pace for new buildings to emulate (or at the very least, not overpower.

Old State HouseThe unicorn and lion above the front doors of the Old State House show just how old the building really is - it was built in 1713 to house the British governor and the colonial legislature.

Minutemen
The Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston from the Old State House balcony, an event commemorated every July 4th.

It was outside the building in 1775 that British soldiers and colonialists first exchanged mortal fire (today, a rather non-descript circle of cobblestones marks the location of the Boston Massacre). It served as the seat of Massachusetts state government until 1798, when the "new" State House opened up on Beacon Hill. It is also proof that Boston did not always treasure its historic buildings - in the late 1800s, the city wanted to tear the thing down.
Nearest subway stop

Today Quincy Market is the tourist trap extraordinaire - some boosters claim it has more visitors each year than Disneyworld. But it was built in 1826 for more prosaic reasons - to serve as a place for Boston wholesalers to prepare and ship meats and produce. The Greek Revival central market and the two side buildings were collectively named for Mayor Josiah Quincy.
Nearest subway stop

Trinity ChurchTrinity Church is perhaps H. H. Richardson's grandest masterpiece, an 1877 adaption of French medieval church design that spawned its own style of architecture: Richardsonian Romanesque. The massive structure sits on wooden piles in what was once the swampy Back Bay. It is actually part of a circle of great buildings that includes Old South Church, the Boston Public Library and the Hancock Building.
Nearest subway stop

The Custom HouseBoston has always been a pioneer in zoning - government regulations aimed at imposing communal values on the look and feel of the city. At the turn of the century, city zoning codes prohibited skyscrapers. But the federal government was exempt from those codes and so it did something that no doubt sounded crazy to Bostonians of the time: it tore off the roof of the Greek Revival Custom House (built in 1847) and stuck a 17-story skyscraper in it. Today, the Custom House is a Boston icon (and is being turned into a hotel and luxury timeshare condos).
Nearest subway stop

The HancockThe Hancock Building is interesting in many ways. Close up, one could actually argue it's a failure: it sits in the middle of a dreary plaza and creates a mini-hurricane that is constantly threatening to tear the hats of unsuspecting pedestrians. Yet from just a couple of blocks away, it is a striking beam of blue that draws the eye downward to the glories of Copley Square, in particular, Trinity Church. Stand at just the right point on Boylston Street and look up, and you see what appears to be a 50-story, two-dimensional sheet of glass. It's also famous as the world's tallest plywood building - when first erected, windows began popping out and the builders eventually had to replace all of them with plywood before they figured out how to fix the problem.
Nearest subway stop

Union Oyster HouseThe Union Oyster House and the Sears Crescent are both particularly notable because they are remnants of bygone eras. The oyster house, the oldest restaurant in the city, and the nearby buildings look straight out of the early 1800s - which they are. Sears CrescentThe Sears Crescent, next to the awful City Hall, is one of the few buildings that survived the bulldozers that tore down ol' Scollay Square as part of the Government Center urban-renewal project. By the curve of the building, you can even picture the road that no longer exists in front of it.
Nearest subway stop

Comments

i love boston

joe on February 28, 2004 01:49 PM.


Boston, is a great historical place that can teach us a prodigiously large amount about our country.

Peter Berquist on March 9, 2004 09:10 AM.


Boston = Old and Busted

Vancouver = New hotness

jason on March 14, 2004 09:55 PM.


Boston is a wonderful city. So much to see and do, I loved it!

Nimisha on March 22, 2004 10:34 PM.


I love Boston! It is one of the cleanest and greatest cities in the world.

Dan on March 25, 2004 01:07 AM.


Boston is the best!!!! I really loved it. Th most Exiting thing was Quicy market that the the best place to go.

I love you Boston.

Ariana on March 29, 2004 11:57 AM.


I LOVE BOSTON, lived there for 2 years and will miss it forever.

Katalin from Budapest on April 1, 2004 09:32 AM.


Visiting this summer. Can't wait !

Robert Wisbey on April 17, 2004 11:48 AM.


WHAT CAN I SAY THE COMMONS , BIG EASY, THE GREEN LINE ,ALSTON WHO COULD EVER FORGET THOSE THINGS

MARVIN on April 24, 2004 12:01 PM.


The City Hall building is actually based on a Monastary in Lyon, France. The style is called Brutalism, it's an ugly building but it still is considered architecture. Here is a link to Le Corbusier's Monastery of La Tourette ... very similar to our very own City Hall.

Sean on May 17, 2004 11:03 PM.


I came to Boston from Kansas City last fall. I was missing it.Thanks for the pics!

Barb on May 25, 2004 03:25 PM.


JJ Foleys on E Berkley St.!!!

Jimbo on May 25, 2004 09:57 PM.


Ci vediamo a giugno amici bostoniani!!!!
Fate i bravi

Paolo on May 26, 2004 08:27 AM.


Hello!!
I must give a presentation about boston in the school... its so difficult, because i know nothing about boston !!

Mandy on July 2, 2004 08:59 AM.


The best memories that I ever had in my life were from Boston, ten years ago, when I lived there; studying English at CELOP (BOSTON UNIVERSITY) and HARVARD SUMMER SCHOOL, Boston is just the right city for anyone, Boston is the city that has whatever you need and I think it is the most beautiful city in the whole United State and I even would say Boston is one of the best cities of the world. Being in Boston you dont need to go to London, Rome and Paris. I LOVE BOSTON.


TULIO CARRERO SOTO on July 11, 2004 01:47 PM.


I love, love, love Boston. I lived there.... .(3 years ago) to study english, I loved people and every thing.
I'll never forget u Boston and I promies to com back again.

Waleed on July 12, 2004 12:49 PM.


Im Spanish. I came to Boston to study 12 years ago and I stayed there for more than two years
I love this city.
Thanks to all Bostonians

Celia on July 12, 2004 03:28 PM.


Hallo everyone,
I'm Francesca and I'm writing from Italy - Rome. I'd like a further info about Boston. In particular Storic dowtown, old building, important house to visit, for example Dickinson's house or Hawthorne's house. Ecxuse for my english...
anyway, all of boston and more....

thank you so much...

francesca

Francesca on July 30, 2004 01:10 PM.


I love JJ Foley's on E.Berkley too!

Regan on July 31, 2004 09:28 PM.


Ciao Boston!

I visited your very very beautiful city just a year ago, and have been missing it since then!

Nice city, nice people, nice surrounds, nice food, all just perfect!

I'll surely be back one of these days, in the meantime a virtual hug from Italy to all of you!
Pierfrancesco

Pierfrancesco on August 25, 2004 10:31 AM.


Re: Dorchester Heights

While Knox was dragging the cannon of Ft Ticonderoga over the mountains, the Heights were prepared by Gen John Thomas M.D. whose house (private) is in Kingston near Plymouth on 3A at the top of John Thomas Hill. The British fled at once.

It was Dr Thomas who turned over the Continental Army to Washington on Cambridge Common.

He was sent to relieve Benedict Arnold's Siege of Quebec. The Yankee forces were decimated by smallpox, and he died on the return journey. Today? All but forgotten.

Dick Boner on September 26, 2004 10:42 PM.


going to boston in 2 weeks cant wait

sandra on November 10, 2004 02:33 PM.


I lived in Southie all my Life for the Past 4 years i moved to NH and i do miss Boston very Much i am always searching the Internet for old Pic around the city

George McDonough on December 9, 2004 11:07 AM.


I grew up in upstate NY and moved to Boston in '98 as it was a place I always wanted to live. I spent 3 great years there before deciding to see what else was out there. Since moving out of Boston, I lived in Buffalo, NYC, Miami, and currently Baltimore and and soooo excited to be moving back to Boston next week. This time for good!!! For me personally, no other city beats Boston.

Mike on January 25, 2005 03:17 PM.


I love you BOSTON!

Victor on January 28, 2005 02:25 AM.


i`m studding architecture in Vienna and going to Boston next week. has anyone proposals for interesting buildings i can visit?

chris on January 28, 2005 08:46 AM.


We visited Boston in january. Is is a wonderfull city and so european!
We come back once.

Johan Zwols on March 10, 2005 02:36 PM.


I love Boston!!!!!

I am living here for one year.

crocket on March 12, 2005 10:24 AM.


I lived in Boston my whole life. For the past 4 years I have been living in Boca Raton, Fl. Boston is my heart. I miss it on a daily basis. I too am constantly online looking for pictures of home. God Bless Boston...My home town. GO SOX!!!

Ann Dello Russo on April 9, 2005 02:34 PM.


I love this city.So many good things happened to me there.Its magical and unforgetable.Hope it never changes.A PLACE TO VISIT

Eli on April 10, 2005 05:53 PM.


I visited Boston for the first time in February and loved it. I never expected it to be so European in many of its features. It often felt like I was back walking down a London side-street. Even so, Boston is a great, interesting city.

Claire on October 19, 2005 05:05 PM.


Boston...baby, I love you like no other...can't wait to see you again....very soon I hope!!!
XOXO,
I'll be thinking of you!

Marine on November 1, 2005 11:16 PM.


Boston will be always in my heart! Boston is my favorite place in the World. I left Boston but my soul will be there for ever!
Great Job guys!

Ricardo Simone on December 12, 2005 02:04 PM.


Visited Boston recently and I am pretty impressed by the subway they have there - clean not stinky,and no vermins running in the track unlike NYC subway.

Alix on May 18, 2006 11:52 PM.


O dear, o mistress, o mine...
I spent 2 yrs as a Turkish man at this city and still can smell the mix. of bohemian and groovy feelings....

volkan on June 12, 2006 09:15 AM.


I live in Houston and have been to Boston on numerous occassions. It IS more European that any other American city...right down to it's politics. Either way, what it amounts to is Boston's a college town with all the trappings of a major city. Austin and Ann Arbor are college towns as well but could never offer what a city the size of Boston can. Great restaurant scene, sports bars,clubs, and a vibrant downtown nightlife. Every week of the year you could see a world-renowned speaker/lecturer at one of the 60 area colleges/universities. With that, it's a very young city, and the sudents come from all over the world. Very cool place, no doubt about it. My only suggestion to the previous posters is don't visit in January or February. I understand you may have had no choice but you gotta go during Summer or Fall. Forget Spring; Spring does not exist in New England. Straight from Winter to Summer every year.

Angie OPlasty on June 12, 2006 04:29 PM.


I love old buildings and all their trappings. I love boston for the same reason. I could just walk down the street on one of these clear, crisp fall afternoon doing nothing but admiring the architecture. Does anyone know there is an organization for "old building lovers?"

Jill on September 4, 2006 11:35 PM.


I love Boston. This is the most beautiful city in the States.

With Love, Former student of "Boston Academy of English".

P.S. If anybody (from BAE) want to keep in touch go ahead.

Gasan on January 18, 2007 06:31 AM.


I love Boston very much!

Gasan from AZERBAIJAN on January 18, 2007 06:33 AM.


I love, love, LOVE boston!! I went there for college 5 years ago and I now live in polluted NYC. How I miss the quaint cobblesone streets, the old lamposts...the coziness there.... Boston, you have my heart... I hope to be with you one day soon again (I am presently looking to move back I miss it SO much!)

Ariela on February 28, 2007 06:25 AM.


We visited artist friends at nearby Cape Ann. We found the whole area great for painting--subject wise anyway.

Cheers,

Michael on April 15, 2008 11:30 AM.


i want to go boston! i think is a perfect place to visit and wy not for to live im suprised by the photos you have looky to have a nice place to live like boston ahh one more thing arriba los boston celtics and larry

mario luna on May 26, 2008 07:01 PM.


I am moving to the Boston area next month. Actually Beverly. I was excited at first, but after I visited some forums and read comments like :Boston is the "cruelest" "nastiest" "road- rage filled" "ice cold city, both in terms of weather and the people. " - I am moving up from the south and although I have lived in Chicago, and have experienced the Chicagoans, I am starting to get especially stressed about the attitudes and perceived (or real?) lack of helpfulness of the Bostonians. So reading comments on this forum,where people seem to love Boston, gives me cause for hope.

Janya on June 19, 2008 04:42 PM.


Boston is absolutely the greatest city in the world! No other city compares to its beauty and history!

Andrew on July 30, 2008 04:27 PM.


I lived in Boston for 13 years and now I am in crummy Columbus, Ohio. My friends here can't understand why I love and miss Boston so much. I understand their point of view, though...none of them have been there!

Carl on August 7, 2008 04:47 PM.


Boston is unlike any city in the US - I first visited in 2000 and have always wanted to return to live there. I actually have recurring dreams of Yawkey/Lansdowne and wlking throught the entrance of Fenway Park! Go Sox!

bdougherty on August 13, 2008 08:13 PM.


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