Bay Village

Boston Architectural Conservation District

The mudflats of Bay Village became buildable in 1825 with the construction of a dam near Fayette Street. The neighborhood’s streets were laid out in the 1820s and 1830s. Fayette was the first street and had the first houses. By midcentury many carpenters and artisans for Beacon Hill homes had built their own modest but finely crafted homes here. The original inhabitants of the area included housewrights, painters, ink makers, harness and rope makers, blacksmiths, surrey makers, sail makers, upholsterers, paperhangers, salt merchants, tin workers, toll gatemen, cabinetmakers, and musical instrument makers.

In the 1860s the neighborhood was unsettled. Sanitary problems caused by the filling of the Back Bay made it necessary to raise nearly 500 houses and commercial buildings. The first floors were raised to 18 feet above sea level and the backyards to 12 feet.

The colorful history of the area was enhanced during the 1920s, when there were known to be many speakeasies here. As the adjacent area to the north became a thriving theater district, actors and musicians flocked to the neighborhood. Film distribution companies joined them. The name Bay Village was acquired in the late twentieth century and seems to fit its pleasant short streets of small brick houses.

Cover image: 1 Bay St., Magicpiano (, via Wikimedia Commons