Beacon Hill Transects Tour – Zifei Wei



Reflective Essay

Beacon Hill is a historic neighborhood with around 9000 population in Boston, Massachusetts. Its named refers to the metonym of the state government or the legislature itself. Beacon Hill is well-known for its federal-style rowhouses, narrow gaslit streets and brick sidewalks adorn the neighborhood that is usually regarded as one of the most desirable and expensive areas in Boston. As we all know, Beacon Hill is appreciated by many citizens and visitors for its comfortable living area and quiet streets, while it is near with many buildings expressing cultural diversity about political significance, religious integration, racial development and people’s livelihood. Our tour will explore how such a desirable old neighborhood harmonizes so many different aspects of society.

Our tour start from Boston Common, which was the oldest public park in the country established in 1634. Today, this expansive green space is the starting point of the Freedom Trail and the anchor of the Emerald Necklace. Boston Common is a place for many public gatherings, festivals, events, concerts and sports as well as a pleasant place to jog, bike and walk while enjoying the pretty scenery. Then, we go around the Beacon Hill area and visit several landmark buildings that can show its features and diversify. By walking across the Beacon Street, we arrived William Hicking Prescott House, which was an historic twinhouse museum designed in 1964 for the famous historian William Hicking Prescott. When the great historian lived there, he created reputations for his studies of Spanish history, which formed the building as a memorable place for the racial culture. Keep going north and a small fancy road got into our view. Acorn street is one of the most photographed streets in the city on which 19th century artisans and trades people lived and today the row houses are considered to be a prestigious address in Beacon Hill. Then we turn right and go further, the Nichols House Museum provides visitors a great insight into the practical lives of early Bostonians. The museum referred to Rose Standish Nichols, who lived in the house between 1885 and 1960, and represents the lifestyle of the American upper class during that period. The Nichols House Museum preserves and interprets the 1804 Federal townhouse that was home to landscape gardener, suffragist and pacifist Rose Standish Nichols and her family. The next stop is at Boston Athenaeum. The building founded in 1807 show the development of libraries industry and the civilized life in this city, which contributed to engage people seeking knowledge with various collections and inspiring creative reflections. Turning around, the golden roof of MA State House is shining in the sun. The oldest building on Beacon Hill has a rich history of political significance in Boston. Going down to the Joy Street, we step into the Museum of African American History. The Museum of African American History is New England’s largest museum dedicated to telling the story of organized black communities from the Colonial period through the 19th century. It gives people a great opportunity to feel culture of this race with a variety of exhibits, programs, events and educational activities, which is a great platform to review and think about its history. In addition to African American history, Beacon Hill also adopted other cultures through all kinds of channels. The Vinal Shul is a desirable place for modern people to know the hard process that eastern European Jewish immigrants integrate their culture and live in this place. The museum hosts many special moments of Jewish immigration: the early days of their hard lives, they rebuilt their homes after ordeal and their precious last Rosh Hashanah. Crossing the Revere Street and Myrtle Street, Louisburg Square led us into a peaceful and snug area. Louisburg Square was designed as a model for town house development in the 1840’s but the square was not replicated because of space restrictions. It is an example of high-end residential area that was ranked as one of the most expensive living area in the whole US in 2014. When we step into the area along the beautiful Charles River, the first impression is from the Charles River Meeting House. The Charles Street Meeting House is an early-nineteenth-century historic church in Beacon Hill at 70 Charles Street, Boston, Massachusetts. The church has been used over its history by several Christian denominations, including Baptists, the First African Methodist Episcopal Church, and Unitarian Universalist. In the 1980s, it was renovated and adapted for use as office space, with the exterior restored and preserved. By visiting the historic meeting house, people can feel the development of Christianity in the region with rich resources of decorations and views. After a short Christian tour, we walked the Charles river from Charles River Esplanade and Beacon Street. Charles River Esplanade, one of Boston's best, viewing spots, gives people an amazing gift at the Autumn with breath-taking fall foliage colors paint the city gold, orange, and crimson. Lastly, we step into the Beacon Street that is a major thoroughfare in Boston and several western suburbs. By walking and taking the Green Line, visitors can access into Boston, Brookline, Brighton and Newton via Beacon Street. With one-year living experience on Beacon Street, I totally felt how comfortable and convenient this long street functions as a great residential area.

Beacon Hill area plays an important role in the social housing demand, rows of residential buildings on Beacon Street make the people’s livelihood function of the region visualized. However, when people step into the streets and alleys of this area and taste the story behind each building carefully, they will see not only the comfortable living area of modern people, but also the magnificent buildings with strong historical significance. Although today's Boston, and even the United States as a whole, is characterized and synonymous with diversity and high tolerance, the integration of various ethnic groups and religions in history has not been an easy process. the museum of African American History and Vinal Shul keep the great memory for visitors to learn and consider about the religion and race integration in Beacon Hill. Even if today's MA State House adds more tourism and education functions, it cannot hide the political significance. These buildings are next to each other without any conflict. On the contrary, they each bring unique meanings to modern society. Although Beacon Hill is a part of Boston, the streets and alleys are full of old Boston stories.