By Sean Colby and Kevin Walsh

Back Bay was created by filling in swamp lands that attached to the Charles River, a process which began in 1857 and was completed up to the Fens by 1900. After it was filled in, streets were gradually made into a grid pattern. The east-west streets are in alphabetical order–Arlington, Berkeley, Clarendon, Dartmouth, Exeter, Fairfield, Gloucester, and Hereford Streets. What many people don’t know is this pattern continues into the Fenway/Kenmore neighborhood with Ipswich, Jersey, and Kilmarnock Streets.

Just southeast of Back Bay is small Bay Village, which is a neighborhood of small, narrow streets, including Piedmont Street, which was the location of the tragic Cocoanut Grove Nightclub fire, which occurred on November 28, 1942, quickly taking hundreds of lives and injuring hundreds more. 492 people ultimately lost their life in the fire, and it resulted in multiple indictments of owners, contractors, and public safety officials as well as the changing of fire codes everywhere.

Continuing southeast of Bay Village is the South End, which houses many high-end apartments and condos. The streets in the South End are in a semi-grid pattern, and as you go along Tremont Street, you see that the cross streets are named after Massachusetts towns.


Public Alleys in the Back Bay run behind the apartment buildings and businesses, parallel to the north-south . Many run the entire length of the east-west streets, from Arlington or Berkeley Streets all the way down to Hereford.

Walking down Berkeley Street just after Boylston Street, the first public alley is Public Alley 438.

The next alley down is Public Alley 436. The first view is looking down the alley from Berkeley toward Clarendon, the second is from Berkeley toward Arlington Street.

Further down Berkeley Street is Public Alley 422. The first view is north toward Arlington Street, and the second is south toward Clarendon Street.

The next alley on Berkeley, just before Beacon Street, is Public Alley 421.The first picture looks north toward Arlington, and the second is south toward Clarendon.


Public Alley 444 runs from Hereford Street behind the buildings between Boylston and Newbury Streets.


South End

Public Alley 705 runs between Tremont Street and Shawmut Avenue between East Berkeley and Dwight Streets south of Bay Village.  


Just inside the alley on the Tremont Street side is this wall-mounted radial fan luminary. It has a metal inscription that says “EL” (Electric Light?) and a newly installed electric sensor to allow it to turn on and off automatically.


“Back Bay, Boston, Massachusetts” Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia


Categorized in: Alleys Forgotten Boston Tagged with:

4 Responses to BACK BAY ALLEYS

  1. Rodrigo Tomato says:

    Let’s stick to NY-related articles, please.

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