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Engaging communities

Boston Neighborhoods’ Stories

When the weather is temperate,  the BSA Foundation partners with Boston By Foot to bring architectural walking tours of Boston to the public. Walking tours show those who live in Boston the stories behind the streets they walk through every day and give insight into how their favorite parts of the city have developed over time. The 90-minute walking tours explore different neighborhoods or themes throughout the city. This year, the tours covered a lot of ground, traversing the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Kendall Square, Chinatown, Fort Point Channel, Commonwealth Avenue, and the South End.

Each tour goes in depth into history and architecture. This fall, attendees explored Commonwealth Avenue with a veteran tour guide, who filled them in on the filling in of the Back Bay (once swampland, famously) and identified the multitude of architectural styles in the neighborhood, from Art Deco to Victorian.

Tour-goers learned not only about architectural styles and aesthetics, but also he socialites and historical figures that have dwelled in the magnificent buildings along the tree-lined promenade. From Fannie Farmer to frat houses to Tom Brady, many cultural icons have shaped the street and the city.

Occasionally, these tours uncover gems new even to the expert tour guides.  One resident along for the walk noted a digital resource that details the history and current state of every building along Commonwealth Avenue. These explorations go beyond a scripted walk along a prescribed route, creating opportunities for neighbors to connect with each other and with their built environment, and to chip in knowledge that adds to residents’ and visitors’ understanding of our collective history.

Every tour explores each area with unique character, history, and culture that help define Boston as a city of neighborhoods—and a city of neighbors. Residents, architects, designers, and tourists all come together in the streets and on the sidewalks of the community to partake in these tours and gain a new and deeper appreciation for the architecture that ties together the city of Boston.

To learn more about how the BSA Foundation is making an impact in communities, please come to BSA Space for a one hour “tour” of BSA Foundation programs. On the tour, board members and volunteers will tell stories about how Foundation programs, and the power of design, are positively changing the lives of real people. Meet the BSA Foundation meetings are held monthly. Events are free, but seats are limited. Check for upcoming dates and to reserve your seat.