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Back Bay’s 6 must-visit sites

These include two famous churches, a monumental library, and a perch 52 floors above Boston

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The expansive of infill of a brackish bay in the mid-19th century spawned what has become one of Boston’s most charming neighborhoods: Back Bay. It teems with sites to see and things to.

Here are the six must-visit places, all accessible via several stops along the Green Line and by way of what is easily one of the Boston region’s most walkable enclaves.


Trinity Church

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Henry Hobson Richardson designed this church in his own unique style. Completed in the late 1870s, the current Episcopal church replaced one nearby that burned down (the parish dates from 1733). Other municipal buildings locally and nationwide have imitated its Richardsonian Romanesque motif.

Copley Square

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This might be Boston’s main main square. It is named for John Singleton Copley, one of the first Americans to become famous as a painter—a statue of him is on the square—and landmarks such as the Boston Public Library and Trinity Church border it.

Boston Public Library

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Charles Follen McKim designed the Beaux Arts-Renaissance Revival hybrid, which was completed in 1895, and contains much of the library’s research archives and administrative offices. Definitely go inside. Post-modernist Philip Johnson designed the 1972 addition around the corner.

Old South Church

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Amos Cummings and Willard T. Sears designed the church in the Gothic Revival style. The building dates from 1875, but its Protestant congregation dates from the 1660s.

Skywalk Observatory

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They say you can see for 100 miles on a clear day from this 50th-floor perch in the Prudential Center. The Pru’s Skywalk Observatory provides perhaps New England’s only publicly accessible 360-degree panorama of the Boston area (and beyond). It is a great capper to any tour of Back Bay. Tickets start at $15.

Commonwealth Avenue Mall

A bronze sculpture of a seated man on a pedestrian mall. Boston Globe via Getty Images

If the 32-acre expanse shooting through Back Bay feels like a grand Parisian boulevard, that’s intentional—it was designed as such in the 19th century. Memorials and statues dot the 1.3-mile run, which ends on its eastern terminus at the Public Garden.