Key Locations

West End Streets, like Lynde (Simon Lynde cir.1667), Staniford (John Staniford cir.1718), Russell (James Russell cir.1743), and Phillips (Zachariah Phillips cir 1658) were not called streets initially, but highways connecting the farms and pastures of the ‘New Field’ area of Boston. As the area became more urban, they were later designated streets and named after the owners of these former West Boston farms and pastures. Many of these streets named after significant historic figures are no longer visible to tourists and visitors as a result of the urban renewal of the late 1950’s. Allen Street (James Allen cir. 1671), Chambers Street (Charles Chambers cir 1695), Leverett Street (Major John Leverett cir. 1672) were more or less written from current maps.

Streets of the West End 1894

Streets of the West End 1894

Bowdoin Square, developed in colonial times as ‘Field Gate’ the entrance to the New Fields (West Boston) and was the place were Cambridge and Green Streets diverged. Later when the West Boston Bridge was build it became a major thoroughfare into the city of Boston.

African Meeting House, 46 Joy Street on Beacon Hill (formerly Belknap St. in the West End) was built in 1806 in what once was the heart of Boston’s 19th century African American community.

Abiel Smith School, the first black public school in the United States opened here in 1835 and in 1898 became a Jewish synagogue.

Bulfinch Triangle, Merrimac and North Washington Streets form the apex at Haymarket Station and the base along Causeway Street; it is the former site of the Boston Mill Cove. Charles Bulfinch laid out the current streets in the Mill Pond Plan of 1808. The area south of the Causeway was filled in with the top of Beacon Hill, which was twice as tall as it is now, while the north side of the Causeway where the Boston Garden and the North Station train terminals are located was filled in with Pemberton Hill.

Canal Street, between North and Haymarket Stations, bisects the Bulfinch Triangle and is adjacent to the former site of a canal which connected the Middlesex Canal across the Charles River in Charlestown to Boston’s waterfront from 1808 to 1845.

Leverett Street Jail (1822–1851) approximately where the West End Museum is served as the city and county prison for some three decades in the mid-19th century. Inmates included John White Webster. Notorious for its overcrowding, the facility closed in 1851, when inmates were installed in the nearby, newly built Charles Street Jail, also in the West End.

Charles Street Jail (1851 – 1990), now the Liberty Hotel, was designed by architect Gridley James Fox Bryant according to the Auburn Plan. Over the years, the jail has housed a number of famous inmates including Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, Malcolm X, Sacco and Vanzetti, suffragists imprisoned for protests when President Woodrow Wilson visited Boston in 1919, and World War II prisoners from the German submarine Unterseeboot 234.

1st Harrison Gray Otis House, 141 Cambridge Street, was designed by architect Charles Bulfinch and built in 1796.

Old West Church, 131 Cambridge Street, was designed by architect Asher Benjamin and built in 1806.

Bullfinch Building at MGH

Bullfinch Building at MGH

Bulfinch Building at MGH, 55 Fruit Street, was designed by Charles Bulfinch in 1818. That same year, Bulfinch had been appointed ‘Architect to the Capitol’ by President James Monroe and the design was later executed and built by Alexander Parris in 1818-23. William T.G. Morton demonstrated one of the first uses of ether in an operation in 1846.



Saint Joseph's Church

Saint Joseph’s Church

St Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, 68 O’Connell Way designed by Alexander Parris and built in 1834 for the Twelfth Congregational Society, it was purchased by the Boston Roman Catholic Diocese in 1862.




Vilna Shul, 18 Phillips Street, was built for an Orthodox congregation in 1919 by immigrants primarily from Vilna, Lithuania. It is the last of the purpose-built immigrant synagogues still standing in downtown Boston at the end of the 20th century.

West End House, 16 Blossom Street was built in 1903. It was founded by a group of immigrant boys who banded together to form a club dedicated to the moral, mental and physical advancement of its members in the West End. The boys met on the Boston Common, in alleyways and in abandoned buildings to exercise, study history and literature and to forge the bonds of friendship that would insure survival in a rough urban neighborhood. Philanthropist James J. Storrow, for whom Storrow Drive is named, was so impressed by their motivation, unity and strength of character that in 1906 he funded a clubhouse for the boys.

Craigie Bridge

Craigie Bridge

West End Bridges: Charles River Bridge (Charlestown Bridge), West Boston Bridge (Longfellow Bridge), Canal Bridge (Craigie Bridge), Warren Bridge (demolished), Zakim Bridge

Zakim Bridge was finished in 2003, it is the world’s widest cable-stayed bridge – 10 lanes.

North Station, a major transportation hub located at Causeway and Nashua Streets. Before North Union Station opened on the spot in 1893, there were four separate stations in the area: the Boston and Maine Railroad terminal (1845) was just north of Haymarket Square, south of Causeway Street; the other three were all on the north side of Causeway Street, the Boston and Lowell Railroad terminal (1835) was on the east side of Nashua Street, the Eastern Railroad terminal (1852), at Friend Street and the Fitchburg Railroad station (1848) was on the other side of the Boston and Maine Railroad approach, at Beverly Street, the approach to the Warren Bridge.