Boston's Back Bay is one of most prestigious and fashionable neighborhoods Boston has to offer and its splendid architecture, wide boulevards and proximity to the Public Garden and Boston Common make it a showpiece of the city. The Back Bay was once marshy tidewater flats of the Charles River, but filled in during the 1820's by developer Ephraim Marsh, and by the mid-19th century became home to Boston blue-bloods. Commonwealth Avenue, Newbury, Marlborough, and Beacon Streets are among the best addresses in Boston and this neighborhood is shared by both established families and young professionals.
Builders, such as architect Arthur Gilman, prioritized an architecturally integrated neighborhood. He and others created street after street of three and four story brownstone townhouses and mansions constructed of ornate brick and stone. The boundaries of the Back Bay, as defined by the Neighborhood Association of Back Bay, are "the Charles River on the North; Arlington Street to Park Square on the East; Columbus Avenue to the New York New Haven and Hartford right-of-way (South of Stuart Street and Copley Place), Huntington Avenue, Dalton Street, and the Massachusetts Turnpike on the South; and Charlesgate East on the West."
Besides the impressive residences, the Back Bay offers both large retail and small shops, luxury hotels and fine restaurants. Commercial activity is centered along Boylston Street and Newbury Street as well as in what is perhaps the main plaza of Boston: Copley Square. Copley Square features the main branch of the Boston Public Library, several large-scale monuments and fountains, as well as the landmark Trinity Church. The high style Romanesque church, designed by architect H.H. Richardson has been considered one of the finest buildings in America. The sixty-story John Hancock Tower rises above the square and there are high end retail stores in the adjacent Copley Place Mall and Prudential Center.
Real estate is highly prized here and the residential market offers mostly condominiums. With its central location and reputation, Back Bay is perhaps the most desirable neighborhood in Boston.