St. Botolph Street: Back Bay or South End?

Galen Moore seeks guidance on which neighborhood our patron saint's street is in.



Good Book To Read

A Topographic History of Boston by Walter Muir Whitehill. The last edition, which was updated by either an MIT or BU professor about 15 years ago lays out the history of Boston from the last ice age going forward.

The Back Bay used to cover the rough triangle from Mass Ave, Shawmut Ave / Charles Street, to the middle of the river.

The creation of Beacon Street, which was a type of dam when laid out fouled up everything and the state and the city conjoined to fill it in over the course of 70 to 80 years. The South End (which in the 1700's was the name of what is now DTX) moved northwesterly from Shawmut Avenue towards the now Orange Line tracks after they were laid out in the 1840's.

A lot of people think that the Back Bay is the pocket between Charlesgate going east, north of Boylston, south of Storrow, and west of Arlington, but it actually from a historic standpoint includes a lot of Bay State Road, the Pru, and Huntington Avenue.

Literally fouled everything up.

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"The creation of Beacon Street, which was a type of dam when laid out fouled up everything..." This and another dam along Mass. Ave. literally did "foul up" everything. By hindering the daily tidal flushing of the Back Bay, horrible pollution and odors were created, which led to the eventual filling of the Back Bay.


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From Neighborhood Assn's website (for whatever that's worth),

The boundaries of the Back Bay, as defined by NABB's Articles of Organization, are:
Charles River on the North
Arlington Street to Park Square on the East
Columbus Avenue to the New York New Haven and Hartford right-of-way (South of Stuart Street and Copley Place), Huntington Avenue, Dalton Street, and the Mass. Turnpike on the South
Charlesgate East on the West.

St. Botolph Street is in the

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St. Botolph Street is in the Back Bay. Though I can see how tourists and newbies might be confused since it seems cut off from the rest of Back Bay by Huntington. Check the parking signs: Back Bay residents. It's a no-brainer.

All i know is..

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The Official nickname of South Boston is SoBo.

It was an isolated part of the Back Bay

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...separated by Huntington Ave, the Pru, Turnpike, etc., until the Providence line railroad trench was covered up by the Southwest Corridor Park when it was rebuilt with the relocated Orange Line and knitted both sides of it together. Now I'd say it's more a part of the South End than the Back Bay (though one still needs a Back Bay parking sticker to park there).


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Although home is where the heart is.

I'd say most people in Back Bay wouldn't think of this as part of the Back Bay (myself included). However, a lot of people that live in that area think of it as the Back Bay. To your point - they do get Back Bay parking stickers. However, historically Back Bay was probably more considered to be the area north of the tracks. The Neighborhood Association boundary goes to the north/west side of Huntington (to include the Pru when it was built) - and does not consider this part of the Back Bay. As with all neighborhoods in Boston - it's a little ambiguous.

I talked to a LONG time Bostonian born in Dorchester - who has lived for decades in the Back Bay who said St. Botolph is Back Bay - so there you go. Depends on who you ask.

One of the more ambiguous border areas in Boston

It was probably long considered part of the South End, but since the construction of the Southwest Corridor Park, I suspect it's now mostly thought of as part of Back Bay. (In those days, the South End didn't have the glamour and real estate values it does now.)

Resident permit parking requires a Back Bay sticker, one indicator I often go by in those borderline areas.

I agree it looks more like the South End than Back Bay in terms of the housing stock, though. Crowdsourced maps of the two neighborhoods are perfectly ambiguous on that particular boundary, too.

I guess this is just one of those profound mysteries to which we will never know the answer, like "Clay Buchholz: did he look more like an actual preying mantis, or Zorak from The Brack Show?"


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All told I think his mechanics were fine, he just had issues with repeating his delivery. It's not like he had something odd like Bronson Arroyo's "my landing leg suddenly loses knee action when I begin my delivery" thing, or all of Hideo Nomo's delivery hitches that would be maddening when he wasn't pitching well. Clay's other issue is, like post-2008 Papelbon, he'd work insanely slowly on the mound, which like with Papelbon was fine in 2007 when he was completely shutdown, but was the worst when he was progressing into a Maalox-moment closer.

South End

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But the real estate shysters like referring to it as the Back Bay.

Then you'd be wrong. That's

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Then you'd be wrong. That's like people who live in Roxbury saying they live in the South End just because they live near the South End. I get the South End is super trendy nouveau-riche, but you don't live there if you live on St. Botolph... sorry!


on which realtor you ask. More money involved calling it Back Bay. It's the South End.

True, Back Bay is more

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True, Back Bay is more expensive overall but South End is more trendy... That's another reason I like to think of the St. Botolph neighborhood as Back Bay -- it is less trendy ... people live here because they like it or because it is convenient to their work and not so much because it is a trendy neighborhood.

And you're wrong. I grew up

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And you're wrong. I grew up off of St Botolph before the South End got hot. We weren't allowed to ride our bikes any further than Columbus because it wasn't safe. If the folks in the South End disagree about the geography do an experiment and park on Botolph with your SE sticker and see if you get a ticket. It's the Back Bay and always has been.


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is Back Bay. I lived there in the '60s. Always was Back Bay. What's that, 2 of us on this site that know this from back in the day, so we must be right....;)

Back Bay, or maybe even Fenway

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One BPDA (BRA) map that I've looked at shows the Southwest Corridor and Mass Ave are the dividing lines for the South End, Roxbury, Fenway and Back Bay. So by that map (as well as parking, etc.) the St. Botolph neighborhood is in the Back Bay. (But there is another city database that puts it in the Fenway.... so there's no consistency, even within official city maps and databases.)

I live in the neighborhood and I say it is Back Bay. Just like the neighborhood around Christian Science/Berklee College, it has a feeling that is different from the South End - more students, more international, and closer to and more influenced by the colleges, teaching hospitals and music/art institutions of the Fenway.

Many BRA maps are not

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Many BRA maps are not official boundary maps but maps that reflect BRA development zones and if the development is on the border of another neighborhood those blocks would be incorporated into that "development zone."

Oh boy

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St. Botolph is one of those places. I'd say South End as it was not laid out in the style of the rest of the Back Bay.


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It's Backbay. It's just a really odd area but it is backbay.

The un-official line is the Southwest Corridor park.

And I will further say

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It *IS* the park because the signs change for parking on either side of the park on West Newton!

Looking toward Huntington on West Newton just on the other side of the park.


Looking toward Columbus on West Newton on the opposite side of the park.


I only know because I saw this one day when I lived on Warren Ave. The city.. at least for parking purposes says the SW Corridor is the dividing line.

Case Closed!

Mattapan is a part of Dorchester

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Historically, this is a fact.

That said, if you are in zip code 02126, you are in Mattapan, since that is what defines that part of Dorchester.

maybe Roxbury?

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I'm pretty sure this area was originally part of Roxbury - but the real estate people really wouldn't like that.

You are correct

The Back Bay was legally part of the Town of Roxbury until the decision was made to start filling it in and the state changed the bounds to include in Boston.

This was the same changing of bounds that put anything south of Northampton Street into and still part of Roxbury.


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I've spoken to several old-timer contractors who've worked in the SE for the past 30-whatever years. They talk about the progression of gentrification over that time, working its way from Huntington towards Albany. In their eyes and in terms of the Gentrification/Construction boom, it was part of the SE.

More than one told me about having to chase off hoodlums trying to rob their work van/truck while on the job on or along St Botolph..

All that said, it's a bit of no-man's land, but Back Bay parking sticker is the deciding factor for me.


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it's part of Back Bay. The train tracks definitely separated it from the South End, and it's fill occurred as part of the Back Bay development rather than the South End's. It's buildings, while similar, were also constructed later than the SE's, by about 20 years. If you look at the architecture, it's much more in keeping with the rest of the Back Bay than the South End's in terms of style.

Back Bay...

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The public alleys northerly parallel Saint Botolph Street are numbered in the 400-series. PA 401 starts at Saint Botolph and Harcourt Street. PA 405 is where Uno's keeps its motley collection of dumpsters. cf. PA 414 - 444 north of Boylston Street. If it was the South End, especially that edge, they would very likely be numbered in the 500-series.

And if that part of town was Roxbury (namely the ex-Gravelly Point section) the alleys would be numbered in the 800-series like the cluster near Matthews Arena.

Doesn't Matter

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It doesn't matter because the Saint Botolph Neighborhood is the best neighborhood in the City!