Today, as through all its history, the North End / Waterfront area is a residential neighborhood where about 10,000 people call home. Young professionals and families have joined the life-long residents to form a thriving community where people know their neighbors and meet at the many parks, cafes, activities and meetings.
The North End is the oldest neighborhood in Boston. Settled in the early 1600’s by the English Puritans, it is home to famous historical attractions such as the Paul Revere House and Old North Church and a large part of the Freedom Trail goes through the neighborhood.
Many people know the North End as “Boston’s Little Italy” for its many restaurants and the famous religious feasts held on summer weekends.
The North End is arguably the safest neighborhood in Boston in which to live. There is definitely no other place quite like it anywhere else. And quite frankly, where else can you get a caffe latte, an Italian newspaper, an American history lesson, a great dinner and a moonlit harborside serenade all in the same evening? No where else but in Boston’s North End.
To the people that live here, the North End is much more than a cultural and historical experience. It is the best place to live.
Borders and Boundaries
The North End is bounded to the north and east by the waters of Boston Harbor, extending inland west to N. Washington St. and Surface Road along the Greenway (formerly the Central Artery) and south to Christopher Columbus Park. On the western side of the Greenway, the North End has a border with the Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market area (i.e., the “Market District”).
The “Waterfront” is a loosely defined sub-section perimeter area of the North End on Boston Harbor. It extends from the Charlestown Bridge on the northern side of the North End, around the perimeter to the south inclusive of Christopher Columbus Park to Long Wharf.
On Commercial Street and extending south along Atlantic Avenue are numerous wharf buildings that form the North End’s Waterfront area.
The Waterfront can also be said to extend outside the traditional North End to include the area south of Christopher Columbus Park on the harbor side of Greenway. This area of Downtown is also referred to as the “Wharf District,” including Harbor Towers (East India Row) and Rowes Wharf which also have large residential populations. Development south of the New England Aquarium is often referred to as the Wharf District.
The Waterfront is also home to the publicly accessible Harborwalk.
The center of the North End is Hanover Street, the neighborhood’s “Main Street.” Restaurants and shops dominate much of Hanover and Salem Streets with several others extending to the surrounding area. The area around Endicott and N. Margin Streets are sometimes referred to as the “old North End” with their classic tenement structures and dense residential housing.
The highest point of the neighborhood is found at Copp’s Hill, home of the historical burying ground. Along Commercial Street are the large parks, Langone Park, Puopolo Field and Mirabella Pool. The U.S. Coast Guard has a large base on the waterfront.
The North End/Waterfront is small land area, totaling only 0.27 square miles. Zoning varies throughout the neighborhood, but there is a widespread height limit of 55 feet that has largely defined the North End’s architectural character for generations. The limit was originally determined so that no building would be higher than the spire of the Old North Church.
View an interactive Google Map of the North End/Waterfront area.
Life as a Resident
North End / Waterfront living has a European feel where walking to most everything is easy and encouraged. The neighborhood has an architectural variety, from its colonial-era attractions and classic tenement-style structures to the maritime nature of the wharves on the harbor.
There are Neighborhood Groups of every stripe and those looking to get involved should take a look at our Neighborhood Groups page.
The neighborhood has an Italian flavor from its history as an immigrant destination and there are many examples of Italian culture in the neighborhood. However, only about 30% of today’s North End population has an Italian heritage and residents come from a diverse array of backgrounds and walks of life. Recently, the North End / Waterfront’s location near the center of Boston has brought many young professionals. And, of course, there are still many families that have lived here for many generations.
More families are deciding to raise their children in the North End / Waterfront area because it has one of the best public schools in the City, John Eliot School (K-8), and the highly regarded St. John School. We are also fortunate to have the Nazzaro Community Center and North End Branch Library in the center of the neighborhood.
Several neighborhood parks and the Harborwalk provide much-needed open space all residents. Dogs are welcome too as long as owners respect the leash and pick-up rules.
The senior population also benefits from many elder resources. And, all residents appreciate the services of the North End Waterfront Health, affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital.
The North End / Waterfront area has a reputation as a safe place to live with one of the lowest crime rates in Boston. Boston Police and Fire Departments work closely with the community to keep it that way. Of course, it is still city-living and residents should take appropriate care especially at night.
There is public transportation at nearby Haymarket, North Station and the Aquarium. Parking is limited on residential streets and requires a resident parking sticker. Make sure to check the street signs for street cleaning, snow removal restrictions. There are a number of public parking lots and garages in the neighborhood.