A lot of neighborhoods claim to be diverse, but East Boston is the real deal. "Eastie", as the locals call it, has always been a welcoming place for immigrants hoping to gain a toehold in Boston. Rapid gentrification along the waterfront has begun to take hold, and it remains to be seen what impacts that will have on this working class community.
Like much of the rest of the Boston area, East Boston was originally a series of five islands and marshy tidal bogs. Each of the islands were used either for farming or the grazing of livestock, and military fortifications were constructed when necessary. The two largest islands (Noddle's and Breed's) make up the modern commercial and residential heart of Eastie. The three smaller (Governors, Apple, and Bird) were combined with infill over the years to create Logan International Airport.
In the 1830s, the owner of the largest island, William Sumner, formed a company to direct expansion in the area. The railroad was brought in and ferries started service to try and connect East Boston to the rest of the mainland. While those ventures didn't work out so well, the urban planning that was done around this time remains. Visitors today will see one of the few areas of Boston actually laid out on a grid. This was also a prosperous period for locals involved in the Clipper ship industry, which flourished here. So renowned were the shipbuilders, Eastie would remain popular in the maritime trades long after the time of wooden ships had passed.
The ships carried more than just cargo, they also brought with them new arrivals and new ideas. A great many Canadians, Irish, Russian and European Jewish immigrants would appear throughout the 19th century. The Italians arrived at the dawn of the 20th century, and a growing population required additional housing. It's during this period when the streets first became lined with ever present three deckers, providing affordable housing for the recent immigrants. The fine Victorian mansions and sea captain's homes would remain atop Eagle Hill, of course, along with many handsome brick bow fronts in Jeffries Point.
The construction of the airport beginning in the 1920s was transformational. Also extremely close to downtown Boston, the noise and pollution from the air traffic kept housing prices affordable. This provided a landing space for the most recent influx of people hailing from South and Central America, the Caribbean, and South East Asia. Nothing stays the same forever, and today developers are moving in to capitalize on Eastie's waterfront views and adjacency to downtown.
Clearly Logan International Airport is the neighborhood's defining characteristic, see Boston by plane for all the gritty details. There are, however, a few other ways to get here that don't involve undergoing a full body patdown.
By public transit
The easiest and most popular option is the Blue line, running trains every 5-13 minutes depending on the current time and day. It pops up above the harbor at Maverick station, before continuing on to the Airport, Wood Island, Orient Heights, and Suffolk Downs stops. It then keeps chugging right along into Revere, the next town north. The other way of getting here is on the Silver line SL1 branch. It's great for going to the airport, but not much else. The Silver line bus makes 5 stops, one at each of Logan's terminals, and does not connect you with the Blue line.
Busses run here (quite a number of them!), but none departing from Eastie can get you across the harbor and into Boston proper. A few busses do leave from Wonderland station in Revere. They drive to either Haymarket or South Station, and a couple will stop at the airport. Of busses that do run here, the #114, #116, and #117 start at Maverick station and cross the Mystic river to get you into Chelsea. The #120 and #121 run from Maverick also, but they stay within the neighborhood and in most cases the Blue line and your own two feet will be the superior option.
One other infrequently used option are the MBTA commuter boats. Take the F2H from Logan Ferry Terminal for boats to Long Wharf, Hingham, and Hull. These ferries run year round, but call ahead if it looks like extreme, icy ocean conditions could be an issue. Water taxis are also available, taking you to any dock in the city with about 10 minutes notice.
Driving in East Boston isn't the best idea, but not impossible. Actually the most challenging thing is getting your car over here in the first place. Three tunnels provide access, the older Callahan and Sumner tunnels are crowded, slow and their location isn't great. The Ted Williams tunnel, built during the Big Dig, offers the fastest and easiest connection. All the tunnels are equally expensive for non-resident visitors. If you're coming from the north, congested and crumbling routes 1A and 145 will bring you in. There are a few parking garages, and most streets in town are resident parking only 24 hours a day. The city issues $40 tickets for parking in these spaces without a sticker.
- 1 Belle Isle Marsh Reservation, Bennington St (T: Suffolk Downs), ☎ . 9AM-4PM daily. This protected Saltwater Marsh is Boston's last, and the perfect place to stroll and explore during fall, spring and summer months. The park it self is 241 acres, and 28 of them are available to the public. Free.
- 2 Bremen Street Community Park, Bremen St (T: Airport), ☎ . 8AM-8PM daily. This sprawling 18-acre park in the heart of the neighborhood has bocce courts, Asian themed public gardens, playgrounds for the kids, as well as walking and bike paths. Free.
- 3 Constitution Beach, 799 Bennington St (T: Orient Heights), ☎ . 24 hours daily. Watch the jets come in for a landing at this nice public beach. Newly constructed bathhouse and concession stand, and there are lifeguards are on duty June to September.
- 4 Lo Presti Park, Summer and New streets (T: Maverick). Sunrise-sunset daily. Shoot some hoops while taking in some of the best views of Boston's downtown skyline. The city made nearby luxury condo developers install this nicely appointed free park. Free.
- 5 Piers Park, 95 Marginal St (T: Maverick), ☎ . 7AM-9PM daily. 7-acre beautifully landscaped waterfront park with many amenities. Playground for the kids, fitness center, and professional sailing center renting boats and offering classes. Great views of downtown Boston, and when its warm there are concerts and public events weekly. Free, harbor cruise $85, five-day sailing pass $325.
- 1 Porrazzo Skating Rink, 199 Coleridge St (T: Orient Heights), ☎ . 8AM-10PM daily, check calendar for specific events. $5 public skating, $5 skate rentals.
- 2 Suffolk Downs, 525 McClellan Highway (T: Suffolk Downs), ☎ . 11AM-5:30PM, open until 11PM on certain race days, closed Tuesdays in winter. Suffolk Downs is a horse racing track that will take you back in time to when horse racing was at its prime. Over the years, the historic track has seen the likes of Seabiscuit and Cigar run its course. The track still holds daily races and simulcasting and its signature race, the Massachusetts Handicap or MassCap, is held in the fall. Free.
- 1 Atlantic Works Gallery, 80 Border St (T: Maverick), ☎ . Sa Su 1PM-5PM. The art scene in East Boston has exploded over the years with the redevelopment of the East Boston Artists Group's Atlantic Works Art Gallery. Here you can drop in, view art at the dozens of studios artists keep in the historic building and, of course, purchase something for your wall.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
|Mid-range||$10 - $20|
East Boston is full of wonderful stores and restaurants representing its different ethnic groups. Long-time Italian restaurants stand next to Brazilian cafes.
- 1 Santarpio's Pizza, 111 Chelsea St (T: Airport), ☎ . 11:30AM-11PM daily. No other place says East Boston quite like Santarpio's Pizza. This local hideout is down-to-earth, relaxed, and renowned for its pizza and grilled lamb and sausage plates. Prices start at $9 for a 12-inch pie.
- 2 La Hacienda, 150 Meridian St (T: Maverick), ☎ . 9AM-2AM daily. Full liquor license, and mariachi bands on the weekends.
- 3 Rino's Place, 258 Saratoga St (T: Airport), ☎ . M 4PM-9PM, Tu-Th 11AM-9PM, F 11AM-10PM, Sa 3PM-10PM. Little hole in the wall and real old school Italian where most everything is made from scratch, including the pasta. Definitely check this place out.
- 4 Jevelli's, 387 Chelsea St (T: Wood Island), ☎ . M-Sa 9AM-2AM, Su noon-2AM. Standard Italian-American. Kind of cool atmosphere and lots of history.
- 5 Mario's, 347 Chelsea St (T: Wood Island), ☎ . M-F 11:30AM-2PM, 5PM-9PM, Sa 5pm-10PM. Standard Italian-American. Kind of cool atmosphere and lots of history.
- 6 Dough, 20 Maverick St (T: Maverick), ☎ . M-Sa 11AM-9PM. The owners of this place are really nice guys and they make a pretty good pizza and good subs to. They pile rosciutto with capicola and genoa salami in their Italian, which makes it extra good. They also have hot pepper relish if you ask for it, which is not that common in Eastie. They have some interesting specials too (they like to play around with creations involving buffalo sauce).
- 7 Meridian Food Market, 121 Meridian St (T: Maverick), ☎ . M-F 6AM-6PM, Sa 6AM-5PM. Always a lunch line out the door of cops, firefighters, construction workers, and local office workers. The Meridian St Special sandwich (roasted red peppers, fresh mozzarella, basil, & chicken cutlet) is excellent. Their Italian sub is very good. Takeaway dinners are good, and they also offer catering for parties at good prices.
- 8 Spinelli's, 282 Bennington St (T: Wood Island), ☎ . They have good Sicilian-style pizza and lots of fresh meals to bring home for dinner (the Eastie version of the TV dinner). They make fresh raviollis and fusilli that you can purchase. Also have good desserts and Italian pastries.
- 9 Royals, 752 Bennington St (T: Orient Heights), ☎ . Su-Th 10:30AM-11PM, F Sa 10:30AM-midnight. Bare-bones counter service slinging roast beef sandwiches and fried seafood. Right across the street from Constitution Beach, perfect for seaside picnicking.
- 10 Angela's Cafe, 131 Lexington St (T: Airport), ☎ . M-Th 8AM-9PM, F Sa 8AM-10PM, Su 8AM-3PM. Best Mexican food in Boston.
- 11 Rincon Limeno, 409 Chelsea St (T: Wood Island), ☎ . 10AM-10PM daily. Fantastic Peruvian.
- 12 Taqueria Jalisco, 291 Bennington St (T: Wood Island), ☎ . Su-F 10AM-10PM, Sa 10AM-11PM. One of the only Mexican-owned and operated taquerias in Eastie. Their adobada and lengua tacos are superb.
- 13 KO Catering and Pies (Boston Harbor Shipyard), 256 Marginal St #16 (T: Maverick), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Tu-Su noon-10pm. This place is in a shipyard, so you have to know it's there: go to the end of Marginal St, enter the shipyard, and follow signs. Once you get there, you'll enjoy delicious Australian-style meat pies. Most seating is outdoors, but covered. $9-12.
- 14 Oliveira's, 297 Chelsea St (T: Airport), ☎ . 9AM-10:30PM daily. Brazilian churrascaria place, charges by the pound.
- 15 El Peñol, 54 Bennington St (T: Airport), ☎ . 10AM-9PM daily.
- 16 Ecco, 107 Porter St (T: Maverick), ☎ . M-Sa 4PM-1AM, Su 11AM-1AM.
- 1 Kelly's Pub (Kelley Square Pub), 84 Bennington St (T: Airport), ☎ . 11:30AM-1AM daily. The small windows don't make this place look particularly inviting, but stepping inside revals a bright family restaurant. Filled with locals, it could be the best, non-dive bar to watch the Sox game. A friendly waitstaff serves up standard bar fare with very large portions. Stop in Wednesday for half-price pizza day (pretty good, especially the garlic pizza).
- 2 Downeast Cider House, 256 Marginal Street, Building 32 (T: Maverick), ☎ . Th F 5PM-8PM, Sa 11AM-8PM, Su noon-7PM.
- 3 Eddie C's, 34 Maverick Sq (T: Maverick), ☎ . M-Sa noon-2AM, Su noon-midnight. Dive bar close to the T with cheap pitchers.
- 4 Cafe Gigu, 102 Meridian St (T: Maverick), ☎ . 3PM-1AM daily.
- 5 Americano Espresso Bar, 155 Meridian St (T: Maverick), ☎ . M-F 7AM-5PM, Sa 8AM-2PM. The only coffee shop in Eastie that isn't at the airport, or a Dunks or Honey Dew. It's not bad, and there's definitely better options across the harbor, but you aren't across the harbor now are you? Coffee $2-5, salads and sandwiches $6-8.
- 1 Hilton Boston Logan Airport, One Hotel Drive (T: Airport), ☎ . The only airport hotel directly connected to the airport via an enclosed sky bridge. The Hilton Boston Logan Airport also offers round-the-clock, complimentary shuttle service (departs every 15 minutes from the hotel lobby) to all airline terminals, the subway, water taxis and car rental agencies.
- 2 Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor, 101 Harborside Drive (T: Logan Ferry Terminal), ☎ .
- 3 Embassy Suites Boston at Logan Airport (Hilton), 207 Porter Street (T: Airport), ☎ .
- 4 Hilton Garden Inn, 100 Boardman St (T: Orient Heights), ☎ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. Call the hotel from the airport for a shuttle bus pick up. From $149.
- 5 Courtyard by Marriott, 225 William F McClellan Hwy (T: Orient Heights), ☎ . From $139.
- 1 East Boston Branch (Boston Public Library), 365 Bremen St (T: Airport), ☎ . M Th noon-8PM, Tu W 10AM-6PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM.
- Do what everyone else does and take the T under the harbor and into downtown Boston.
- Take the Logan Ferry across the harbor to Hull, operating year round.
- Water taxis offer more flexibility, take one over to South Boston and tie one on at Harpoon Brewery.
- Hundreds of flights depart daily for points all around the world, a common destination could be anything from Nantucket to New York City.
- Stay on the Blue line and ride up north to Revere Beach, in the city of Revere.
|Routes through East Boston|
|Downtown ← Financial District ←||SW NE||→ Revere → END|