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Back Bay, MA Apartments
Back Bay is described as one of the most desirable neighborhoods in Boston. It possesses a combination of peaceful, tree-lined streets, as well as noteworthy shopping and tourist destinations. Many of the residents of Back Bay apartments are young professionals drawn to the upscale rentals within an easy short distance of world-class shopping and distinctive dining.
Back Bay is centrally located between Fenway Park and the Boston Common. Famous for late 18th and early 19th Century architecture, the Back Bay Architectural District makes up the northern half of Back Bay. Bisecting the Back Bay Architectural District is the lovely parkland promenade of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. The landmarks and attractions listed below are only a highlight summary. For a compact area of little more than a half square mile, Back Bay is packed with an abundance of famous sights to see, shopping opportunities, and diverse dining to experience.
The History of Back Bay
Originally Back Bay was actually a tidal bay where a marshy flat was covered by several feet of water at high tide. It was filled in as a land reclamation project begun in 1857 and completed in 1882. Deed restrictions strictly regulated the construction of the new residential developments. As a result, builders erected houses, buildings, and Back Bay apartments with a high standard of construction materials and a minimum of three stories. From its inception, Back Bay was designed as an exclusive, upscale Boston neighborhood.
Back Bay Landmarks
Living in Back Bay apartments gives residents easy access to an amazing array of famous landmarks within a short distance. It’s like having your living space expanded by a collection of beautiful public spaces. Many of these sights are worthy of repeated visits. Here are some of the notable landmarks that will be right in your back yard:
The Boston Public Library
The Boston Public Library McKim Building is located on Boylston St. by Copley Square. This monumental structure, opened in 1895, is an architectural masterpiece, designated as a National Historic Landmark. Covering an entire city block, it is a marvel to explore, filled with spectacular art works. The great reading room, Bates Hall, with its vast vaulted ceiling is a sight worth seeing. The central courtyard resembles an Italian Renaissance cloister with an arcaded gallery and a central fountain.
Trinity Church in the City of Boston
Trinity Church in the City of Boston, located at Copley Square, is a beautiful example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture built by H. H. Richardson in the 1870’s. Inside you will find over 20,000 square feet of painted murals along with amazing stained glass windows and original stone and woodwork.
Commonwealth Avenue Mall
Commonwealth Avenue Mall is a long 32 acre, tree-lined park designed in the style of a 19th Century Parisian Boulevard with statues of famous people and memorials along its length. Located between the east and westbound lanes of Commonwealth Avenue, it runs west from the Boston Public Garden at Arlington St. down through the length of the Back Bay Architectural District.
The Old South Church
The Old South Church on Boylston Street is a National Historic Landmark recognized as one of the finest examples of High Victorian Gothic church architecture in New England. The 246 foot tall campanile contains the church’s 1-ton bell, which was restored to its original function in 2006.
200 Clarendon Street
The tallest building in Boston – and all of New England – is 200 Clarendon Street, which was formerly known as the John Hancock Tower. This Minimalist glass tower is 790 feet tall.
The Prudential Tower
The Prudential Tower at 749 feet is the second tallest building in Boston. An example of the International Style, it was controversial when it was opened in 1964. Some critics in Boston considered this towering skyscraper to be completely out of character for the image of their city. Now it has become one of Boston’s most recognizable landmarks.
The Fairmont Copley Plaza
The Fairmont Copley Plaza is Boston’s premiere luxury landmark hotel. This Beaux-Arts architectural landmark contains the fabled Peacock Alley entry hall. It is also home to the award-winning OAK Long Bar + Kitchen.
The Christian Science Center
The Christian Science Plaza is a 14.5-acre campus on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Huntington Avenue. It is a popular tourist attraction that contains a complex of buildings, including the Romanesque Original Mother Church (built in 1894); Byzantine-Renaissance Mother Church Extension (1906); Christian Science Publishing House (1934); Reflection Hall (1971); Administration Building (1972); and Colonnade Building (1972), and the reflecting pool, which adds a dramatic flair.
Arlington Street Church
Located opposite the Boston Public Garden is the Arlington Street Church. It is considered one of the most historically important Unitarian Universalist churches in the United States. It was carefully crafted to bear a resemblance to London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields, designed by James Gibbs. In the sanctuary there are 16 magnificent stained-glass windows. Tiffany Studios installed these exquisite works of art. The bell tower is 190 feet tall and contains a set of sixteen bells. The church is open from mid-May through the end of October to the general public from 10-3 daily, with the exception of Sundays and scheduled special events.
Frederick Ayer Mansion
Frederick Ayer Mansion, located at 395 Commonwealth Avenue, is also a National Historic Landmark. It was the home of Frederick Ayer, owner of the American Woolen Company. It is the only surviving residence created by the famous American artist and designer, Louis Comfort Tiffany. He was far ahead of his time, and the interior spaces he created are amazing! The Frederick Ayer Mansion is now home to the Bayridge Residence & Cultural Center and open twice monthly for scheduled public tours by appointment, as well as during its annual lecture series, and other public events.
Back Bay Attractions
Newbury Street is a popular destination for shopping. A wide range of hundreds of shops and restaurants are housed in the historic brownstones that line this street. It runs the length of Back Bay, parallel to the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.
Copley Square is another popular destination for shopping and site seeing. It contains the upscale Copley Place shopping mall, as well as several of Back Bay’s noteworthy architectural landmarks: Old South Church, Trinity Church, Boston Public Library McKim Building, the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel, and 200 Clarendon Street (formerly called the John Hancock Tower).
Boylston Street is yet another shopping and dining destination for local residents and tourists wandering up and down the street from Copley Square.
The Shops at Prudential Center, with its glass covered over-street passage to Copley Plaza, is at the base of the Prudential Tower. Over 70 retail and over 20 dining establishments are housed here. Skywalk Observatory is located on the 50th floor of the Prudential Tower. It offers a complete 360 view of all of Greater Boston with audio tours detailing the sights. On the 52nd floor is the Top of the Hub restaurant, another award-winning fine dining experience that offers amazing food and stunning views of the Boston skyline.
Things to do in Back Bay
One of the best things to do as a resident of a Back Bay apartment is to tour the tree lined streets of the Architectural District, admiring the majestic brownstones and mansions. Ambling along the greenway of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall is one of the experiences that make living in Back Bay worthwhile.
No matter which Back Bay apartments you choose, you will be a short distance to Newbury and Boylston Street, Copley Place, and the Prudential Tower. This patch of Boston offers a vibrant nightlife, with numerous pubs and restaurants. From quirky and hip to formal and historic, there is something for everyone in this amazing neighborhood. Shopping is abundant and provides a variety that few other places can match. There is no shortage of interesting stores to explore and hidden gems to discover.
Whether you are visiting historic sites, shopping, dining, or exploring the Mapparium – the world’s largest walk-in globe – there is always a unique experience to be found when you step outside of your Back Bay Apartment.
Open Newbury Street is an annual event that occurs on one day in each month of July, August, and September. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on each day of the event, Newbury Street becomes a pedestrian mall closed to vehicle traffic from Arlington Street to Massachusetts Avenue. This is a popular and successful street festival that brings together the local community, visitors, and the businesses of Newbury Street.
Getting Around Back Bay
Public Transportation Near Back Bay Apartments
Public transportation in the Boston area is provided by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority or MTBA, known locally as the “T”. It supplies subway, trolley car, bus, and boat transportation. The commuter rail lines extend to surrounding towns, such as Newburyport, Rockport, Haverhill, Lowell, Worcester, and Plymouth. Back Bay is on the Green Line, with “T” stations located at Copley Square and the Hynes Convention Center.
Just one block south of Back Bay is the MTBA Back Bay Station, which accesses the Orange Line, several of the MTBA Bus routes, four of the MBTA Commuter Rail routes (Providence/Stoughton Line, Franklin Line, Needham Line, and Framingham/Worcester Line), and three Amtrak routes (Acela Express, Northeast Regional, Lake Shore Limited). See https://www.mbta.com/ for complete public transportation information.
There are five major streets that run east-west in Back Bay: Beacon Street, Marlborough St, and Commonwealth Avenue (which are primarily residential), as well as Newbury Street and Boylston Street (which are famous shopping districts and have residences as well). The north-south streets that connect the main thoroughfares are named alphabetically starting with Arlington Street in the east followed by Berkeley Street, Clarendon Street, Dartmouth Street, Exeter Street, Fairfield Street, Gloucester Street, and Hereford Street. Next to Hereford Street is Massachusetts Avenue which is the main artery that continues across the Charles River over the Harvard Bridge into Cambridge.
*Both residential and public/metered/hourly garage
One consideration to living here, however, is that vehicle parking is limited. It is desirable to have a parking space included with your Back Bay apartment, otherwise be prepared to rent your own parking space. While street parking is possible, there is a complex system of permits and restrictions, including requirements that cars be moved periodically. There are parking meters which are $1.25 per hour, and Boston has a well-earned reputation for strict enforcement.
There are two parking garages on Newbury Street (SP+ Parking and Nike Town Garage) and the rest are south or west of the historic Back Bay Architectural District. It is best to read the reviews and judge for yourself which one may meet your needs and budget. See Google Maps for area parking garages.
However, since Boston has an excellent public transportation system and most necessities are close by, many of your daily errands may not require a car. Consider that while living in a Back Bay apartment in the Architectural District, even your most mundane errands will include traveling picturesque streets that are a sight-seeing destination for visitors from all over the world. They come to marvel at where you live… and you get to live here!
Notable Colleges & School System
Fisher Collage is located in Back Bay. The adjacent district of Fenway-Kenmore is home to Boston University, Northeastern University, Wentworth Institute of Technology, and the Harvard Medical School. Just across the Charles River in Cambridge are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University.
There are a number of private schools in the Back Bay area including Commonwealth School, The Newman School, and Kingsley Montessori School. The Snowden International School at Copley is part of the Boston Public Schools.
What it’s Like to Live in Back Bay Apartments
Back Bay in Boston, MA is an upscale area with enough things to do to keep active people busy. It is packed with wonderful sights to see and world class shopping destinations accessible by just venturing out your door. The rest of Boston and even many of the outlying towns are easily accessible with public transportation. Driving around Back Bay is not necessary, and it is not an optimal area for driving around. Keeping a car here can be a significant overhead cost. That being said, there are Back Bay apartments that include parking, and you often have the option to purchase or rent a private parking space.
Back Bay Demographics
The population of Back Bay is well educated, with 46% having advanced college degrees and 37% having a bachelor’s degree. The largest age group, at 33%, is 25 to 34 years old. Nearly 75% are single. According to Niche.com, the median household income is over $100,000.
Boston, Massachusetts has an extensive selection of top-rated hospitals. Located in Back Bay:
- Massachusetts General Hospital Back Bay
- Boston Medical Center
There are also a couple of noteworthy medical offices in Back Bay:
- Boston University Affiliated Physicians in Copley Square
- artners Health Care
Back Bay Cable/Internet Providers
Xfinity, RCN, and Atlantic Broadband provide services in Back Bay. Verizon has partial coverage in the eastern part of the neighborhood.
Housing & Affordability
The median sale price for a homes in Back Bay is $1,150,000. Median rent for Back Bay apartments is $3,200. Studio Apartments start at about $1,700 per month.
Back Bay Real Estate Market
While many of the Back Bay apartments are charming homes in the lovely brownstone row houses that make this area uniquely desirable, there are also some exceptional apartment buildings which offer their residents more extensive facilities. There are many and diverse opportunities to live in Back Bay, both as rentals and purchases.
New and Notable Back Bay Buildings
The Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences 1 Dalton Street
The Four Seasons Hotel & Private Residences 1 Dalton Street, still under construction, will be the third tallest skyscraper in Boston at 742 feet. This 61 story tower will include 215 hotel rooms and 160 luxury condos managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. Because Boston is running out of suitable sites such tall buildings, this may be the last such building for the foreseeable future.
The Mandarin Oriental Residences at 776 Boylston Street
The Mandarin Oriental Residences at 776 Boylston Street is an ultra-luxury building with exclusive condos atop a Forbes 5-Star hotel with 136 rooms and 12 suites. This is one of the most opulent and exclusive places to live or stay in Boston. The design of the hotel rooms is a Modern art style with Art Deco accents. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston is a Forbes Five-Star awarded spa – the only spa in Massachusetts to receive this award. It offers a comprehensive range of treatments for both men and women.
Zero Marlborough Condos
Zero Marlborough Condos at the corner of Marlborough and Arlington Streets is a prestigious luxury pre-war building across the street from Boston Public Garden, which can be viewed from all 12 units. Built in 1929, a development company completed a total renovation in 2008.
755 Boylston Street
755 Boylston Street offers luxury two bedroom residences with complete kitchens equipped with high end stainless steel appliances, gas fireplaces, white marble bathrooms, solar shades, and wood blinds. There is a concierge, door service, and the security of audio and video intercoms. All the apartments have their own private balcony and included is access to a common landscaped roof deck that has a 360 degree view of the surrounding neighborhood. The larger size apartments are 1,500 square feet.
30 Dalton Street
30 Dalton Street, completed in 2017, is a 26 floor luxury building with floor to ceiling windows in its one to three bedroom apartments and penthouse suites. These are modern, spacious homes with walk-in closets, bathrooms with large bathtubs, and open floor plan living/dining/kitchen space with quartz countertops. Shared spaces include a high end lounge and a state of the art fitness center. There is private garage parking available.
Avalon at Exeter
Avalon at Exeter is a high rise luxurious building with 28 floors containing 187 units, including studio and one to three bedroom apartments. Fully furnished apartments are available. A noteworthy detail about this building, completed in 2014, is its energy efficient design. Additionaly, the property owners equipped each unit with Energy Star appliances. Uniquely, there is underground access from here to Copley Place and the Prudential Center. There is also a private parking garage, and on-site Zipcar pickups are available. Other amenities include package acceptance services, 24-hour concierge and emergency maintenance services, and a state-of-the-art fitness center. Free Wi-Fi is available in common areas. Note that Avalon at Exeter is a smoke-free community and pet-friendly.
The Greenhouse Apartments
The Greenhouse Apartments is a pet-friendly luxury back bay apartment building offering 319 units in 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments known for their panoramic views, stylish living spaces, modern finishes, and walk in closets. The extensive list of amenities includes controlled access, 24-hour concierge, secure parking garage, on-site maintenance, and package service. Residents can enjoy the lounge/ business center with high speed internet access, a roof top pool and sundeck, laundry facilities, and a fitness center. Also, there are regularly scheduled social activities. Each apartment has individual climate control and walk-in closets. Furnished apartments are available.
Buckingham Apartments at 240 Commonwealth Avenue is just across the street from the lovely parkland promenade of the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. This building was originally the home of prominent businessman Rollin H. Allen. After he sold his home to the Boston School of Interior Decoration, the new owners separated this building into several living spaces for their students. They retained the original décor and to this day this lovely building is graced with beautiful, ornate plaster ceilings and banisters with hand carved wooden decorations. These furnished apartments are available on a short or long term basis. Amenities include light housekeeping, basic cable, and wireless internet access. Additionally, included in the rental cost are laundry facilities and all basic utilities.
28 Exeter at Newbury
28 Exeter at Newbury is a nine-story luxury mid-rise that has 96 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments in a pet-friendly and smoke-free environment. Residents speak highly of the 24/7 concierge service. The building’s staff host monthly resident community events. Kitchens feature energy efficient appliances and granite countertops. Secure garage parking is provided. Each floor has its own laundry room. Available services include pet concierge, car cleaning and detailing, in-home package delivery, grocery acceptance, housekeeping and deep cleaning, in-home Wi-Fi, and 24-hour emergency maintenance. Residents report great satisfaction with the way all the building staff are helpful, welcoming, and supportive. There is a dedication here to quality of life.
One Back Bay
One Back Bay offers luxury studio, one, and two bedroom apartments. It is a LEED Silver Certified green, smoke-free, pet-friendly building. Apartments boast superbly elegant living spaces. They feature gourmet kitchens with granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances, marble bathrooms, and in-unit laundry facilities. Amenities include 24/7 concierge services, a health and fitness center, landscaped rooftop sun terrace, a children’s playroom, and an entertainment lounge. Residents have access to community social events and personal services such as package delivery, light housekeeping, prescription pickup, and grocery ordering delivered directly to your refrigerator.