I have lived in the Boston area for my whole life and only when requested by my brother to write what is sure to be a stellar blog post did I realize there as a section of Boston called, “Bay Village”. It has 1300 residents, contains 6 square blocks, was where the Duke of Darkness Edgar Allen Poe spent his first year of life, and had a bunch of speakeasies/distillers during that brilliant idea known as Prohibition. It is a Pentagon shaped island surrounded by the South End, Back, Bay and the Theatre District. What you hear time and time again about the B.V. is that it the brick row houses (Federal Style for all you non architect experts) that look like similar residences in Beacon Hill, but on a smaller, less ornate scale.
The rumors are that the craftsmen who designed the Beacon Hill mansions slinked home at night to their own less swanky versions which they designed in more sensible, less gaudy proportions. Oh and did you know that Bay Village like its neighbor the Back Bay is built on landfill? No, not giant piles of garbage but actual land used to fill in what was a large marshy body of water. They eventually had to raise up the entire neighborhood 18 feet to prevent recurring flooding. How they lifted up an entire neighborhood is an engineering marvel as I am still stuck on page 18 of my son’s Lego battleship set. If I was in charge of neighborhood problem solving back then I would’ve probably recommended a lot of paper towels to combat the Charles River flooding (carrying stinky sewage-gross!) which made the Bay Village streets unpassable until this roof raising project.
If you’re not living in one of those swanky brick townhouses you are probably residing in what used to be Art Deco warehouses.
In the early 20th century this area was a mini Hollywood east with film studios occupying these warehouses, which are now chic condos/luxury residences. The median home price in this area is $1,152,000 which oddly enough tops its historically richer cousin Beacon Hill whose median home value is $704,000. The high cost has a lot to do with its proximity to the Boston Common/Public Gardens, great walkability (Walkscore of 98), access to numerous public transit stops(20% of residents take the train to work), quiet residential feel despite being in the heart of the city, proximity to the hustle and bustle of the Theatre District, and the abundance of hip restaurants close by. Our Lady of Victories Church is also in the B.V. You can attend a French National Church service or just stand and marvel at the 14 large German style stained glass windows.
Also of historical value is the only castle in the city of Boston, the Castle at Park Plaza. This actual castle, which houses gourmet steakhouse Smith and Wolensky and can be rented out for special events/conferences. It has one large spacious room with soaringly high ceilings, brick and wrought iron fusion, and a very cool feeling that King Arthur himself would be proud to eat a giant Turkey leg here. Originally the castle was an armory for a Massachusetts military organization called the First Corp of Cadets. Definitely not haunted! Speaking of ghosts, the Bay Village is the site of the famous Cocoanut Grove fire. In 1942 the trendy Cocoanut Grove nightclub on Piedmont street because the impetus for major fire code reform nationwide as 490 people died mainly due to overcrowding, locked exit doors, and highly flammable furnishings. A bus boy accidentally set paper decorations on fire and consequently the 1000 people in attendance tried to cram through 1 one door which was of the revolving variety.
Other facts to know if youre considering renting/buying here: It has 2.83 violent crimes per 1,000 residents compared to 7.07 for Boston as a whole. It has 8.6 property crimes per 1,000 residents compared to 21.5 to Boston as whole. Bottom line it is a very safe section of Boston with a gorgeous green space/kid play area called the Elliot Norton Park that helps complete the neighborhood feel of B.V. While I have historically trashed the majority of Boston’s non Charter/Exam schools the Josiah Quincy Upper School adjacent to Bay Village( grades 6-12) is an exceptional jewel for B.V residents to take advantage of. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education it dominates compared to statewide scores in grade 6 English Language and Math (+13 and +14).