National Historic District
Note: a separate walking tour covers all of Beacon Hill including a selection of the sites here.
Many people associate Beacon Hill with the wealthy “Boston Brahmins,” yet it has always had a diverse population. The north and south slopes had very different characters through accidents of development and the complicated street pattern. Though it is a grid, the varying widths, lengths, and slight bends yield only three streets crossing both the north and south slopes. For decades, several ropewalks - the long buildings used to make ropes for sailing vessels - were barriers to communication between the slopes.
Where the south slope is epitomized by Louisburg Square, Chestnut Street, and Mount Vernon Street, the north slope has splendid views over the city and Smith Court, with the oldest houses on the Hill.
Image: African American Meeting House, ©Peter Vanderwarker.