A 2 miles, 1h30 to 2 h outdoor trek on the other side of the harbor, to get the best views of Downtown Boston, especially at night, discover a lightship, a working shipyard, rows of triple deckers, an impressive organ (in a church), and plenty of public art.

You’ll also have a chance to taste what has been described as “the best New York style pizza in town”, to sample some Colombian flan or Australian pies, and to relax in cool places (details and photos below the map)

Highlights: Maverick Square, Jeffries Point, Our Lady of Assumption, Belmont Square, Marginal Street, The Nantucket, East Boston Pier Park

A: Your trek starts at Maverick Square, and if you are hungry or just want to indulge in some Columbian pastries before hitting the road, find La Sultana bakery on your left when you go toward the airport. If you want something more consistent, the best traditional New York style pizza in town, according to Boston magazine, is about 10 minutes further, at Santarpio’s on Chelsea Avenue. It’s a cash only kind of place, so be prepared!

All these detours have not advanced your trek a lot as you must take Sumner street toward Jeffries Point, but Maverick Square is always a lively place, and if you went to the pizzeria, you already have a good idea of this part of Boston: rows of triple deckers and still many immigrants, even though their origins have switched from Russia and Italy to South America.

East Boston has traditionnally been, and still is, a working class neighborhood, but it’s getting gentrified quickly, especially on the waterfront. Jeffries Point, where you now go, was definitively the richest part of the neighborhood with his rows of now historical houses.

B: Your first stop on Sumner Street will be Our Lady of Assumption Church -if you do not mind catholic church. It’s open to everyone, and it has an impressive organ in the back of the nave. It also attests of the importance of the catholic community here.

Next, go and admire the houses on Belmont Square, the well named (or is it a coincidence? Belmont means “pretty hill” in French, so it seems adequate anyway). Like the streets around you, it’s a peaceful area and you’ll perhaps wish you had a book in order to sit there and relax.

C: You could stay on Sumner Street to reach the end of this little peninsula, but take Webster street instead, just to have a wider knowledge of the area.

 

Nothing spectacular at the end, a park and some tennis courts, but you ‘ll see Massport (the airport) in front of you, on the other side of the inner harbor, and terminal B. There seems to always be a fireboat docked there, red and shiny and somewhat bizarre when you think about it: a fireboat, really? Of course, you see how it can be useful for other boats and shoreline fires, but still…

You’ll also see another unusual boat a bit further, but for the time being, follow the shore on the right, along Marginal Street, and stop at the panels in the little park you’ll soon encounter. They’ll tell you that Boston was the 2nd busiest port of entry to the USA after New York, and some of the buildings in front of you were part of the immigration station.

The other buildings are a working shipyard, and you can enter it, but you are required to keep clear of the working areas. It’s however your chance to see how boats -sailing boats mainly, are built or maintained, and you’ll also find here what must be the only Australian restaurant in town. Not a restaurant though, as they sell pies, but a fun place to discover -with good pies to boot!

What you’ll also discover is that a shipyard can host a lot of public art. Some pieces would need some repair, but the whole area has the feel of an open air museum. Finally, if you take the first dock on your left, you’ll see that people are living on boats.  On big yachts, on sailing boats so small you wonder how one can spend their life in them, on floating houses of undefined forms and natures. In winter, they are all wrapped in clear plastic sheets to keep the heat inside, and allow for the light to come, with a door included in the structure.

D: Now, at the end of the pier, you’ll see, and even be able to visit if you plan in advance, “The Nantucket”, an historic floating lighthouse, and the largest U.S. lightship ever built . The story says that whatever the weather, it had to stay where it was stationed, about 40 miles southeast of Nantucket Island, to mark the Nantucket Shoals where no permanent lighthouse could be built. Who would apply to go to  such dangerous areas during the worst storms to make sure other boats were safe, the visit will perhaps tell you.

On your way back, you’ll notice that many boats owners have a bike, much easier to store on deck than a car when it’s time to go!

E: Once on Marginal Street again, take the little staircase on your right to go to Golden Stairs Park. The staircase and the park will surely make you think you are in Europe. The people living in the multi-family houses you’ll see there, with ironwork balconies and a perfect Boston skyscrapers view, still hang their laundry outside, like they do in Italy. It only reinforces the sense of being abroad.

F: Keep going up the little alley to get back to Webster Street, and turn left. You’ll again pass Belmont Square, but keep going until you find Pearl Pl, another little alley in between gardens, bordered by gaslights. Take it to go back to the waterfront.

You are now again on Marginal Street, and it’s true that you did not need to do this detour, but didn’t it add a plus to your meandering?

G:  East Boston Pier Park is in front of you. Go to the end of it for the best views of Boston you can have without taking a boat. At night, it’s even better. If you are walking with kids, they surely enjoy the playground there.

H: Once you have taken all there is to take at the park, go back to Marginal street, have a look at the community garden at the corner of Marginal and Cottage Street to see what’s growing, and stay on Marginal Street until the next street on your right, Haynes Street.

Here too, you’ll perhaps see laundry drying up between houses, something that seems unique to East Boston.  In any case, it’s a little and pretty street that will get you to Orleans Street. Once there, turn right until your reach Sumner Street again. Then turn left to go back to Maverick Square.

A better alternative would be to turn right on Orleans Street, then keep going on Marginal Street until you reach Lewis street, to eventually turn right to go back to Maverick Square. Yet there is a lot of construction going on in this area for the moment, with luxury condos in the making, so for the time being, you ‘ll have to wait.

In any case, you are now at the end of this trek, and if you have not tried the food options described in A, now is your chance. If it’s only a drink you crave, and a outdoor place to sit, try Maverick Marketplace café at the corner of Maverick street and Bremen street. It seems a good place for a final touch of the neighborhood!

Good to know: You’ll find restrooms, benches and tables at East Boston Pier Park, and benches in all the other parks.

T-stop: Maverick (start and end)

 

 

2 comments on “East Boston trek

  • There is a simple explanation for the Massport fire boat. It’s part of the response teams that would be used in the event of a plane crash in the water. The airport is surrounded by water – the very harbor
    shown in your photos. The word “port” features prominently in the word Massport because the agency’s mission is port-related, as well as aviation based. Clearly, it should not surprise anyone that a fire boat is located in that area.

    • Hi Mary, thanks for your comment. I always find the idea of a fireboat amusing, even though I understand their purpose in general, but it must be me and the association I make between water and fire. Nothing against this boat or its mission, rest assured. Sorry if it sounded differently.

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