Boston's South End neighborhood is considered one of the largest urban Victorian neighborhoods in the nation and continues to be among the city's upscale areas, attracting a diverse mix of families, young professionals and artists. Blocks of Victorian brick row-houses, upscale restaurants, and art galleries line the main and side streets of the South End. The neighborhood itself is about one square mile in area with about 35,000 residents. It straddles Washington Street, Bostons main north-south street and includes two other main north-south streets: Tremont Street and Columbus Avenue and one main east- west street: Massachusetts Avenue.
The South End contains the largest collection of original Victorian bow-front row houses anywhere in the U.S. and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. This neighborhood is quickly becoming one of the most desirable places to live within Boston. Many of the four and five story row houses have undergone renovation starting in the 1960's, and today the neighborhood is a Landmark District.
Even so, redevelopment continues with the creation new residential, commercial and office space. Historic and new is a phenomenon here. Trendy restaurants stand side by side with coffee shops and Mom \& Pop grocery stores along Tremont Street and its side streets all the way down to Washington Street which is experiencing an artistic revival. A significant number of artists live in the neighborhood and have opened galleries to show their works. The South End was built on the filled tidal flats during the mid 19th century. The neighborhood was designed to attract the wealthy merchant class, with large Victorian townhouses surrounding park squares. Some streets are even divided by a narrow strip of trees and grass down the center, offering the area attractive generous open space.
The South End was selected as an urban renewal area, with scattered affordable housing developments constructed throughout the neighborhood. The area began to be revitalized by an influx of young professionals moving to the neighborhood, restoring the old buildings and converting many of the units into condominiums and single-family homes.
A Landmark District was eventually created in 1983 with the goal of preserving what remained of the original Victorian neighborhood. One quarter of all the original structures had been destroyed in the decades of urban renewal and The Landmarks District Commission guides property owners in planning the rehabilitation of buildings and assists in determining architectural changes that are appropriate to the district.