Cruising Through Boston’s Back Bay

King Husky is a large dog that sits on a plinth in Ell Hall just inside the front doors and he looks outward toward the Krentzman Quadrangle. University tradition says that students who pat his nose will have good luck and bring good fortune to the school. All the attention has made the dog’s nose suitably shiny and somewhat worn.

King Husky inside and outside

When I was a student at Northeastern University, I walked through Boston a lot. Really. A lot. I worked my way through school after my freshman scholarship ran out and held on to every quarter I could find. Some of these quarters would have saved me a lot of time by riding the MBTA but, instead, I walked.

I passed buildings in the Back Bay without knowing what they were, who had built them, or when they had gone up and why. I didn’t even know that the Back Bay had once been a stinking mud flat that three entities converted into the Millionaire’s Mile. That meant I paid these structures little attention, even though I would have enjoyed knowing more. (Note to Northeastern University: How about an orientation lecture on this?)

Training with Boston By Foot

That's What I Do: I Read and I Know ThingsFortunately, I began making up for that lack when I took Boston By Foot’s course for Guides in Training. I started reading books on history and architecture. I found that I could no longer see just a building because now I knew more. After graduation, I went on to give tours of the Back Bay, among others, and learning even more. To paraphrase Tyrion Lannister: That’s what I do.  I read and I know things. It’s a good motto for a tour guide.

Then I began writing this blog and added posts about Boston on a fairly regular basis. Some fit into a series: Hidden Gems, Angels in Boston, Animal Statues, Doors, etc. Other posts did not match a pattern—they stood on their own. I did, however, group them by their part of Boston.

You might have seen these posts or you might be a new reader for whom they have not been visible.

36 Back Bay Posts

The courtyard at the Boston Public Library is free. A series of open-air concerts is given there in June, July and August, offering a variety of music from jazz and folk to classical and contemporary. In addition, the BPL runs the Courtyard Restaurant serving lunch and afternoon tea.

Courtyard of the Boston Public Library

Today, I’m am publishing a list of all the posts I have written about the Back Bay—36 plus. I define the Back Bay thusly: From Arlington Street west to Massachusetts Avenue and from the Charles River south to Copley Square.

The posts appear in rough alphabetical order and I have added the series, if applicable.

  1. Angel of the Waters – Angels (Has been restored since this was posted)
  2. The Back Bay: The Once (and Future?) Body of Water
  3. The Back Bay from the Ground Up
  4. The Bagheera Fountain — Fountains
  5. The Berkeley Building: Shining Bright in the Back Bay
  6. The Berklee College of Music
  7. Boston’s Horses: Paint and Henry – Animal Statues
  8. Boston Police Headquarters
  9. Boston’s Popcorn Man
  10. Boston Public Library Courtyard –Hidden Gems
  11. The BPL’s Bronze Portals — Doors
  12. The BPL’s Frieze of Angels – Angels
  13. Brattle Square Angels — Angels
    (Currently behind scaffolding for restoration)
  14. The Church Court Angel — Angels
  15. The Copley Station Headhouse – Hidden Gems
  16. Cornelius and the Angel: A Tiffany Window – Angels
  17. The Ether Monument’s Good Samaritan”
    (Fountain not currently functioning)
  18. The Frog Pond’s Whimsical Frogs – Animal Statues
  19. Haddon Hall: Tall in the Back Bay
  20. The Haberstroh Building
  21. History Dioramas – Hidden Gems
  22. Make Way for Ducklings Statue – Animal Statues
    (Might be wearing sports jerseys for a Boston team)
  23. The Mapparium – Hidden Gems
  24. The Kakas Fur Company Polar Bear — Missing
  25. Museum Restoration – Hidden Gems
  26. Phillips Brooks and the Christmas Carol
  27. Potions, Parking and Profits in the Back Bay
  28. Pru Garden – Hidden Gems
  29. “Quest Eternal” at the Pru — Missing
  30. The Salada Tea Doors – Hidden Gems
  31. Small Treasures of Boston’s Back Bay
  32. Spiritual Temple or Movie Theater?
  33. St. Francis Garden – Hidden Gems
    (Newly restored after construction)
  34. The Tiffany Sanctuary – Hidden Gems
  35. The Tortoise and the Hare and the Boston Marathon – Animal Statues
  36. Why So Few Skyways for Boston? 

More in the Future

The good news is that it happened in the case of the original New England Museum of Natural History. Designed by William Gibbons Preston in the French Academic style, the redbrick and brownstone museum was constructed from 1863 to 1865. It was the second building to go up in Boston’s “new land” in the Back Bay and it occupies a manicured space at 234 Berkley Street that is a city jewel in its own right.

RH Boston at night

I’m sure I will write more in the future. I find the Back Bay fascinating and can always come up with new things to interest me. In the meantime, this list should keep you busy, at least for a little while.

If you have suggestions for something you would like me to write about, please put them in the Comments section. I check it daily and I’m always looking for good ideas.