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A Guide to Boston's 23 Neighborhoods

Picture of Casey Campbell
Updated: 30 September 2016
Much like any other city, Boston is divided into different sections, each with their own history and personality. But unlike most cities that have a small number of large sections, Boston is defined by its neighborhoods. Totaling 23 in all, it can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the local layout. Here’s a quick guide to help you out.
Map of Boston neighborhoods | ©Goran tek-en/Wikipedia
Map of Boston neighborhoods | ©Goran tek-en/Wikipedia


If you’re a college student in Boston, you know Allston well. Even if you’ve never lived there —although over 2,000 Boston students do each year — you’ve probably visited friends who do or been to an Allston house party. Be sure to take a walk in this neighborhood around the end of August to witness the famous ‘Allston Christmas.’

Back Bay

The Back Bay is definitely one of the most picturesque parts of the city. You’ve seen the apartments on Commonwealth Avenue, home to notable people and so charming it’s not uncommon to find their building facades sketched onto greeting cards around Boston gift shops. It’s also home to Boston’s upscale shopping neighborhood, Newbury Street. Average rents here skyrocket to over $3,000, making it inaccessible for the city’s large student population (outside of dorms, that is) and a hotbed for the local elite.

Bay Village

What was once a landfill is now one of the most inviting areas of Boston. If you’re wondering why it looks so similar to Beacon Hill, that’s because the same people who built those homes would later settle in Bay Village.

Beacon Hill

Step into Beacon Hill and you’re practically transported back in time. The Massachusetts State House sits on top of this Hill, replacing the Old State House in 1795. A walk down the narrow streets gives way to charming brick apartments — and serves as a great workout as well.

Massachusetts State House| ©Emmanuel Huybrechts/Flickr
Massachusetts State House | ©Emmanuel Huybrechts/Flickr


Adjacent to Allston, many college students also find apartments in Brighton. But you’ll also find a growing community of young professionals and young families here. It sits on the Charles River and has a lively business scene along Washington Street.


Charlestown’s historical roots lay in the Irish immigrants that formed the neighborhood, and their hard-working personalities and values have carried through to today. It’s a unique community within the city, and is home to a number of historic monuments, including the Bunker Hill Monument and the U.S.S. Constitution.

Chinatown – Leather District

Here you’ll find Boston’s hub for Chinese culture and commerce. What was once tidal flats transformed into a neighborhood in the early 1800s, now hosting a mix of residences, shops, and restaurants. Hardly a surprise, it’s also the best spot to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Chinatown| ©Ingfbruno/Flickr
Chinatown | ©Ingfbruno/Flickr


Dorchester has long been the largest neighborhood, as well as the most diverse. It’s home to Franklin Park, a large section of Boston’s Emerald necklace, where you’ll find a golf course, over 500 acres of green space, and a zoo. Mayor Marty Walsh was born and raised here by his Irish immigrant parents.


This bustling epicenter is home to dozens of businesses in Boston, as well as being a longtime hub for government since the 1700s. To name a few, it includes City Hall Plaza, a number of offices, and historical tourist attractions like the Freedom Trail. For reference, Downtown Crossing is a major intersection for both pedestrians and the T (underground transport).

East Boston

East Boston has always been home to a large immigrant population of Boston.Today, its diverse population is mainly comprised of Italian-Americans and immigrants from Central America, South America, and Southeast Asia. It’s also the ideal locale for views of the city skyline.


Home to Fenway Park, this area of the city existed long before the Red Sox. In fact, the park was named after the neighborhood. It’s also where you can check out Kenmore Square, a large part of the Emerald Necklace, the Back Bay Fens, and cultural landmarks like the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall.

Kenmore Square | ©Henry Han/Wikipedia
Kenmore Square | ©Henry Han/Wikipedia

Hyde Park

Many Bostonians know Hyde Park as the lifelong home of the late Mayor Thomas M. Menino. It’s often described as a more suburban environment, with the Neponset River running through the neighborhood’s center. It also houses a number of local shops and restaurants that you can find find along Hyde Park’s main streets.

Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain, or more commonly called ‘JP,’ is a dynamic neighborhood filled with diversity, green spaces, and strong local businesses. The Emerald Necklace and Franklin Park surround the neighborhood and it is home to Jamaica Pond. It’s always refreshing to walk around JP and see the wide variety of cultures evident in local businesses, and the sense of community is very prominent here.


In the early 1600’s, Mattapan was home to Native Americans known as the Mattahunt Tribe. Moving through Boston’s history, multiple factions of immigrants have called it home. Today, it is home to a large African-American and Caribbean community, and has become an incubator for green living projects.


Made up of four main sections – Uphams Corner, Bowdoin/Geneva, Four Corners, and Codman Square – Mid-Dorchester is a small piece of Boston’s largest neighborhood. Overall it is diverse, and each section brings its own personality to the table.

Mission Hill

Mission Hill provides convenient living to a number of different groups, including students and young families who work in the Longwood Medical Area. The people themselves are diverse, as large African-American and Hispanic communities call Mission Hill home.

North End

This hub for Italian-American culture is one of the more visited neighborhoods in Boston. It’s where you can see historical sites, like Paul Revere’s house, and dine in what feels like European streets – not a bad combination.


The beloved Arnold Arboretum, a 265-acre park part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, makes Roslindale a ‘garden suburb’ neighborhood. It’s always been a center of commerce and you can still see colonial homes that have been transformed into condos.


There was a time when Roxbury was actually a large farming community. Today, it’s the epicenter for black culture in Boston. As the neighborhood continues to develop into the 21st century, spots like Dudley Square are renewing the entire area.

South Boston

Traditionally, South Boston has been a working-class neighborhood, housing multiple industries and businesses like Gillette which still employs many locals today. Residents now enjoy the convenience of the neighborhood, as well as its beaches and parks. You’ll also find Dorchester Heights here, where George Washington’s army set up cannons to force the British out of Boston in 1776.

South End

The South End has exploded in popularity lately, especially for young professionals, families, and its large LGBTQ community. The food and art scene is diverse and ever-changing, and it sits just minutes away from Downtown and Back Bay.

South End in the winter | ©Dave Levy/Flickr
South End in the winter | ©Dave Levy/Flickr

West End

Often under-represented, this small neighborhood represents the old and new intersection of Boston. For landmarks, you’ll find TD Garden and Massachusetts General Hospital here. The business community is vibrant and it has a growing residential population.

West Roxbury

West Roxbury is a suburban community in the southwest corner of the city. The tree-lined streets make it an excellent residential neighborhood, and counts transcendentalists like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau amongst its former visitors.