A 1h to 1h30 trek, about 2.5 miles mainly outside and along the harbor, in a quiet section of the North End. You’ll meet locals relaxing or playing bocce, discover the past of the area, and have a chance to buy fresh food at an open-air market (Fri-Sat only), at the indoor market next to it (Wed-Sun), or at a local grocery store.

Bring your swimsuit, you’ll also find a public outdoor pool facing the ocean (details and photos below the map )

Highlights: the New England Holocaust Memorial, Haymarket, the Boston Public Market, the Greenway, the Harborwalk, Sargent wharf,  Battery wharfs, the Coast Guard Station, the Mirabella swimming pool, the Zakim bridge

 

A: Your trek starts at City Hall plaza (see West End trek for details) and you are going to take the stair on the left of City Hall (if you take the right one, you’ll go to Faneuil Hall/Quincy market, described in the Waterfront trek)

At the bottom of the stair, in front of you and on the other side of the street, you’ll see the New England Holocaust Memorial, created in 1995 by Stanley Saitowitz. It’s a very powerful work of art made of six glass towers under which you may walk and read what they symbolize, amid steam rising from underneath.

Stay on Union Street until Hanover Street on your right. On Fridays and Saturdays from dawn to dust, you’ll be able to buy the cheapest produce in the city at historic Haymarket. It’s an open air market said to have started as early a the 1600s, and more officially around 1830. Its name comes from the hay farmers were selling here.

If you have a picnic in mind, small brick and mortar food shops on Blackstone Avenue,  at the end of Hanover Street, will allow you to add variety to the fruits and vegetable sold at the market. Alternatively, the  Boston Public Market, home of local producers, and open from Wed to Sun or 7/7 in summer, will satisfy your needs. Otherwise, wait a little bit until you reach a well stocked Italian grocery shop.

B: Cross now the Surface Road toward the Rose Kennedy Greenway,  a good place to eat the food you just bought, with views to Downtown Boston, and a never-ending flow of people. With a bit of luck, you’ll even find  tables and chairs available.

Before 2007, the Greenway was the location of the Central Artery, an elevated highway built  to alleviate traffic congestion in the city. When it became obvious it was creating problems of its own, and cutting the city in two, plans to built a tunnel emerged. The project was nicknamed “the Big Dig”, took ten years of planning and nearly fifteen years of construction, was the most expensive and technologically challenging highway project in the USA. The result on the surface is now a series of gardens, public art, plazas and tree-lined promenades for all to enjoy.

C: Follow the Greenway toward the sea to see some public art on the right, then “the Reading Circle” and a metal sculpture just before the Christopher Columbus Waterfront park. It’s not the best part of the trek as it is along a busy road, but you’ll have unique views of downtown Boston to compensate.

D: Once you see the park and the public art, go on your left and take Commercial Street in front of you. It’s a large and somewhat austere street, even though it’s lined with trees. You are in a residential section of the North End, and you took this street because near the end of it, there is a mouth-watering convenience store, in case you did not have a chance to buy food at the market. You’ll also find tables and chairs next to it (and they were some on your way to the store), but if you go a little further, cross Atlantic street and enter Sargent’s Wharf, you’ll reach the Harborwalk at the end of the parking lot, and find benches and tables in front of the sea.

The Harborwalk, like the Greenway and the slowly emerging bike paths, is a fairly recent addition to the city, meant to make it more people friendly, opposed to car friendly. You can walk it nearly all around Boston.

E: For now, keep walking along this section of it, or take a shortcut by Atlantic street, to reach Battery Wharf, named after a failed attempt to make it a shoreline gun emplacement. Most of these wharfs are now quiet rows of luxury apartments or hotels, but the stroll along the Harborwalk will allow you to read many panels telling you the history of the place. There even was a small maritime museum, with an observatory deck on top of it, where you could immerse yourself in the time  of whale oil processing and sailing ships building, and realize how busy this part of the North End was, but it seems always closed now.

You’ll see it next to the Coast Guards ships, some small, some impressively big, with East Boston on the other side of the harbor (see East Boston trek), and it’s possible you’ll still be able to read some of the displays inside, through the windows. Along the wharf, you’ll also see panels giving you information about the Coast Guard station.

F: For obvious security reasons, you won’t be able to enter this station, so go back to Atlantic Ave and follow it for about 500 yards, until you reach Mirabella swimming pool on your right. It’s open to everyone in season, fairly cheap, with views of the harbor.

Next to it, you’ll find tennis courts, baseball rings, and other recreational facilities. If you come at the right time, you’ll also see people playing bocce, an Italian game of balls, and you’ll know for sure you are in the North End “Little Italy”

G: From the bocce court, find the path that will bring you back to the Harborwalk. You are now part of the neighborhood, with locals strolling along the sea, jogging, or just sitting on benches and talking. There is Charlestown on the other side of the harbor, the SS Constitution and USS Cassim Young at dock, and Bunker Hill on top. You’ll have to take the Charlestown trek to go there, but for the time being, just enjoy the somewhat peaceful atmosphere of the little park you are passing through.

H: Follow the Harborwalk until you reach North station. You’ll see the Charlestown bridge, an interesting metal structure, and go under it to better see the Zakim bridge on your right and North station/TD Garden on your left. It’s easy to find your way to the station, but difficult to explain it, so trust your good sense and what you see. Once at the station, you’ll be at the end of this trek!

If you want to walk more, you can now start the Charlestown trek (don’t bother going to the station if it is the case), or the West End trek.

Good to know: there is free wi-fi along the Greenway, and you’ll find plenty of benches, and sometimes tables, everywhere. There ‘s a public restroom next to the maritime museum or, if you go a little bit out of your way, in the middle entrance of the Marriot Long Wharf hotel and at Faneuil Hall.  Not a lot of places to go eat or have a drink, except at the beginning or the end of the trek, or if you go inside the North End, along Hanover St for example.

T-stops: Government Center (start) and North Station (end)

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