The West End neighborhood is bounded by Cambridge Street (which separates us from Beacon Hill), North Washington Street (which separates us from the North End), New Sudbury Street (which separates us from Downtown), and the Charles River (which separates us from Cambridge).
These are the boundaries recognized by the US Post Office and the US Census Bureau. Car owners within these boundaries receive West End parking stickers.
In the West End there are five MBTA stations (Charles, Bowdoin, Haymarket, North Station, Science Park) on all MBTA rapid transit lines, and North Station Rail Station (to northern and eastern suburbs). No place in the West End is more than 1/8 mile from a transit stop.
Within the West End are a Catholic and a Protestant Church, a synagogue, a shopping center, the Museum of Science, the West End Museum, several hotels and two world-class hospitals. The Boston Bruins and Celtics play at the TD Garden with numerous nearby sports taverns and restaurants.
The early settlement of Boston was along the Harbor, but in 1735 the West Parish was created covering the present West End and Beacon Hill neighborhoods. For its first 125 years this was a prosperous middle class neighborhood (which still survives in the Harrison Gray Otis House) and was chosen as the site for the Massachusetts General Hospital. The Mill Pond was filled in by 1830 and renamed the Bulfinch Triangle. This area did not become residential, but was devoted to commerce and transportation.
After the Civil War and the influx of immigrants (first Irish, then Jewish, Italian, Polish, Greek and many other groups), the West End became a densely populated, working class neighborhood. Three or four story narrow brick buildings faced the numerous narrow side streets. The West End was very unusual in that no ethnic group predominated. The political machine of Martin Lomasney was recognized nationally for its ability to mobilize all eligible voters.
In the 1950’s, the City of Boston decided to raze this working class neighborhood (by use of eminent domain) and replace it with an upper class population in much taller buildings, so as to increase tax revenues. By 1958 only the churches and hospitals remained of the old neighborhood. In the period 1965-1985 the many tall residential towers arose, along with the massive government buildings along New Chardon Street. The early years of the 21st Century saw new hotels and condominiums replace commercial buildings in the Bulfinch Triangle.
The next few years should witness new development around North Station, and the joining of the Esplanade to the Harborwalk to create a 15-mile walkway from the West End along the Charles River and the Atlantic Ocean.