Supriya Ghosh (Editor)

Newbury Street

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Boston, Massachusetts

West end
Massachusetts Avenue

Major cities

East end
Arlington Street


Newbury Street

Public Garden, Faneuil Hall, Boston Common, Harvard Square, Freedom Trail

Boston visitors guide series newbury street

Newbury Street is located in the Back Bay area of Boston, Massachusetts, in the United States. It runs roughly east-to-west, from the Boston Public Garden to Brookline Ave. The road crosses many major arteries along its path, with an entrance to the Mass Pike westbound at Mass Ave. Newbury Street is a destination known for its many retail shops and restaurants.


Map of Newbury St, Boston, MA, USA

Newbury street rd boston massachusetts dji phantom 4 fly


East of Massachusetts Avenue, Newbury Street is a mile long street lined with historic 19th-century brownstones that contain hundreds of shops and restaurants, making it a popular destination for tourists and locals. The most "high-end boutiques" are located near the Boston Public Garden end of Newbury Street. As the address numbers climb, the shops become slightly less expensive and more bohemian up to Mass Ave. West of Mass Ave the street abuts the Mass Pike on its unbuilt southern side; the northern side is mainly parking and rear service areas for buildings on Commonwealth Avenue. A proposed, major decking project over the Pike at the "annex" end would involve new structure(s) for the southern side beyond the confines of the Mass. Ave. intersection. This could allow for expansion of the shopping district.

Newbury Street has an eclectic mix of shops and eateries. Its renovated brownstone buildings feature stores at all retail levels, -- physically (basement, street level, and above), stylistically (shabby chic to elegant), and financially (affordable to exclusive). There are coffee shops, trendy cafes and an array of restaurants to suit many tastes. Yet due to the concentration of up-scale stores at its lower end, it is touted as one of the most expensive streets in the world.

Donlyn Lyndon writes that west of Clarendon Street,

Early history

Newbury Street's name celebrates the victory of the Puritans in the 1643 Battle of Newbury in the English Civil War. Newbury Street was one of the earliest roads in Boston, its portion was renamed Washington Street by the end of the 18th century. The current road was created during the filling in of Back Bay in the mid 19th century.

The 1893 edition of Baedeker's United States catalogs Boston's "finest residence streets" as Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, Marlborough Street, Newbury Street, and Mt. Vernon Street. William J. Geddis, however, notes that it was "the least fashionable Street in Back Bay."

Owen Wister's novel, Philosophy 4, set in the 1870s, mentions Newbury Street:

The first commercial establishments probably opened around 1905. By the late 1920s, lower Newbury Street had begun to establish itself as a destination for well-heeled society. With the establishment of Boston's Junior League in 1907, formal dances became very fashionable, and elegant apparel shops prospered. By 1911, 24 Newbury St. featured a salon for lessons in "social and aesthetic dance." As more retailers moved in, many lower floor shops began to feature wide glass windows to exhibit luxury goods. In the late 1950s fashionable boutiques included Darée, Charles Sumner, Miss Harvey (at #32), furriers and Joseph Antell. One of Newbury's oldest and most established retailers is the tony Brooks Brothers department store which occupies its original quarters at the corner of Berkeley St.

Transformation into a shopping district

The transformation that turned Newbury Street into a trendy shopping district for young people probably began in the 1970s with the opening of the original Newbury Comics.

From 1970 until the late 1990s, lower Newbury Street was lined with posh up-and-coming art galleries. Newbury Street mavens and hipsters spent Saturday afternoons gallery hopping and enjoying the ubiquitous "wine and cheese" art openings.

The legendary music instrument retailer "E.U. Wurlitzer Music and Sound" was a part of the greater Boston music scene since 1890, and the store had been located at 360 Newbury Street (on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue) after moving from its LaGrange Street address in the mid-1960s. The building was a plain yellow-brick building by the time the company went out of business in the mid-1980s. In 1989, it was renovated under the direction of architect Frank Gehry and won the Parker Award as the most beautiful new building in Boston. According to architecture columnist Robert Campbell, Gehry "took a blandly forgettable building and transformed it into a monument... It's the first significant example in Boston of a movement known as deconstruction. Deconstructionist buildings are designed to look as if their parts are either colliding or exploding, usually at crazy angles."

"The Slab" is a large flat rectangle of concrete between the former JP Licks ice cream parlor and the Hynes Convention Center at Massachusetts Avenue. In 2012, the Boston Business Journal announced that Clover Food Lab would lease the 275-square-foot sidewalk space for a year and open a café. However, the plan has not yet been realized as of November 2014.

Once famous for a wealth of bookstores, Boston, like nearby Cambridge, has suffered a steady decline in the number and quality of independent booksellers. The beloved 150,000-volume Avenue Victor Hugo Bookshop on Newbury Street, one of the last holdouts, closed in 2004. Currently, the youthful Trident Booksellers and Café on Newbury Street is amongst a small band of independent bookstores still remaining in Boston.

Close to Berklee College of Music, Tower Records at 360 Newbury Street was a favorite spot among music lovers for over a decade. A 1991 Boston Globe article says that "Tower Records stomped into Boston with the nation's largest music store three years ago," while another says that "When Tower Records opened its astonishing store on Newbury Street, it altered the Boston compact disk market forever, and remade Newbury Street's commercial scene." Long the largest record and CD outlet in the Boston area, it was closed 2002, though the space was soon occupied by another equally huge music store, Virgin Megastore.

Recent history

Since the turn of the 21st Century, Newbury Street has maintained its transformative shopping experience along side an evolving retail industry. Made-to-measure suits, eco-friendly products, guideshops and concept stores are offerings now commonly found in the area. The street has retained both its sophisticated architectural style and its eclectic mix of retailers, from steadfast luxury brands and high-end boutiques to innovative up-and-coming companies, cafes and restaurants. Stores such as Tiffany & Co, Cartier, Valentino, rag & bone, Jack Wills, Woolrich, Steven Alan, Uniqlo, Zara, Urban Outfitters compose the diverse retail landscape.

More recently, the district has become a popular destination for highly-produced pop up shops. Many e-commerce brands use temporary storefronts on Newbury Street to test the Boston market for expansion, often landing as permanent fixtures on the street. Local and national celebrities such as Julian Edelman, Kanye West, Martellus Bennett, and Gretta Monahan have also done pop up activations on Newbury Street.

Notable places

  • The first building completed in Back Bay after it was filled in 1860 was Emmanuel Church at 15 Newbury Street. Today, it is an influential Episcopal church that plays a significant role in the musical life of the city.
  • A notable building designed by William G. Preston in the classical French Beaux-Arts architecture style was built as the Museum of Natural History in 1864. Lyndon describes it as "a remarkably serene Classical building with none of the latent boosterism of its near contemporary, Old City Hall." It is prominently sited between Newbury and Boylston Streets at 234 Berkeley Street. It was the site of the Boston Bonwit Teller Store from 1947 to 1989 and the exclusive men's retailer Louis, Boston from 1990 to 2010. In March 2013 the extensively renovated building re-opened as a Restoration Hardware flagship store.
  • Between 1865 and 1916, Newbury Street was the location of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its Boston campus grew to include two large academic buildings adjacent to the Natural History Museum, one of which was also designed by Preston. By the beginning of the 20th century, smaller scaled townhouses and social establishments filled in much of the length of street frontage. By 1939, MIT's grand structures were demolished and replaced by an insurance building. Gentleman's Clubs on Newbury Street included MIT's Technology Club at #83 across from the original main campus.
  • Boston Architectural College, also known as The BAC, United States' oldest & largest private college of spatial design made its home on Newbury Street in the early 1960s. A national design competition was held in 1964, and the winning entry, by Ashley, Myer & Associates, houses the BAC to this day. Their main campus building located at 320 Newbury Street is a large Brutalist building and the only one of its style in Back Bay. The college also owns 951/955 Boylston which is connected to the fire station at 941 Boylston, which is still active, houses Boston Fire Department Engine Company 33 and Ladder Company 15. The west elevation of the 320 Newbury building is articulated with a mural by the artist Richard Haas, which was completed in 1975. The trompe l'oeil mural of a Classical-style building and dome provides a contrast to the Brutalist style of the building.
  • The famous Ritz-Carlton Hotel (now The Taj), built in 1927, fronts on Arlington but once described itself as "a Boston landmark on fashionable Newbury Street." But Newbury Street was not always considered the hotel's fashionable side. Sports journalist Heywood Hale Broun told the story of proudly mentioning that his publisher had gotten him a room at "the Ritz," an honor accorded only to stars. His friend Lil Darvas had replied, "Which side, darling, the Newbury street side or the Public Garden?" "Sure enough," said Broun, "when I arrived, I found myself on the Newbury street side. 'Darling,' she had told me, 'if you're not on the Public Garden, you've got a long way to go.'"
  • On the corner of Exeter and Newbury Street—the address is given both as 181 Newbury Street and as 26 Exeter Street—is a striking building designed by Boston architects Hartwell and Richardson in the Romanesque Revival style. It was originally built in 1885 as the First Spiritual Temple, a Spiritualist church. In 1914 it became a movie theater, the Exeter Street Theatre. The movie theater was notable both for its ambiance ("You felt like you were in some kind of Tudor manor or English country church") and programming ("It was a theater where people did not call to see what movie was playing, but called only to determine if the movie had changed"). Beginning in the mid-1970s, the theater's midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show gave the movie a popular cult following, often attracting patrons dressed up in costumes based on characters in the film.
  • After 70 years the Exeter Street Theatre closed in 1984 due to declining box-office revenues. Its illustrious interior was dismantled and transformed into a Conran's furniture store. After the failure of Conran's, it became a Waterstone's bookstore, whose extensive inventory was ruined by massive flooding caused by sprinklers set off by a fire in the T.G.I. Friday's restaurant downstairs. (The fire itself was very minor.) Later, it briefly housed an ill-fated dot-com named Idealab. Since 2005 the Kingsley Montessori School has occupied the building, with offices on the upper floors and a restaurant at street level.
  • References

    Newbury Street Wikipedia

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