The Boston Chinatown, Downtown and Financial District trek, a 2 miles self-guided tour to visit three different parts of Boston, will take you about 2 hours to complete,  many more hours if you visit the stores on the way.

There will be authentic Asian restaurants in Chinatown, deals to get on busy Washington Street, and skyscraper to admire in the Financial District (details and photos under the map)

Highlights: Leather district, Chinatown, Downtown Crossing, the Old City Hall, the Old South Meeting House, the Post Office square, the Irish Famine Memorial, the China Trade Center.

A: Your trek starts at South Station; the station is described in details in the Fortpoint/Seaport trek if you want to explore it now.

From there, turn left on Atlantic Ave; you’ll enter the Leather District with its 19th century brick warehouses. It now houses various shops and appartements. At Beach St, you’ll know you’re not far from Chinatown.

B: On the right of its entrance gate, a small park with bamboos and fountains. On the left and a bit further, on Hudson St, retired men often play cards in a public square; it’s like you were suddenly in Asia.

You now have the choice to stay on Beach St.; or to take the adjacent streets until you reach Washington St. In any case, you’ll see many restaurants, bakeries, jewelers, gift shops; on Knapp St., a supermarket with Asian products you cannot easily find anywhere else.

C: Once on Washington St., the China Trade Center will be on your left, at 2 Boylston St. You’ll be able to read, once in the basement and in front of the Chinese Historical Society of New England, everything you want to know about the different waves of Chinese immigration.

D: Next, keep going toward Bosworth St, a small alley ending with a staircase; it will perhaps remind you of Europe. Many interesting façades on your way, most of them renovated a few years ago when Downtown Crossing experienced a much needed uplifting. In order of apparition, the art deco Paramount Theater; next to it, the historical Boston Opera House; further north, just after Macy’s,  the façade and clock of Filene’s, a now defunct department store. Macy’s and Filene’s were for years the anchors of the area; many were going there to look for the latest fashion. The Millenium, a tower with luxury apartments and on its first floors, a new fast fashion department store, now stand were Filene’s was. Macys is still there but its future is uncertain. Not far, two other department stores await your patronage, as well as  smaller clothes and shoes stores. That makes Washington St. a shopping magnet for brand names clothes and accessories, at often reduced prices.

E: After all this shopping, Bromfield St. then Province St. will offer you a respite: only small shops there, dealing with antiques coins or shoe repairs, like nothing had changed since they opened.

At School St, you’ll nearly be in front of the Old City Hall, an historical building now hosting an upmarket steakhouse; there’s a donkey sculpture on one side and an old cemetery on the other.

F: Next, take School St on your right to reach a small plaza;  the Irish Famine Memorial is at its center; in front of it, the Old South Meeting House, the original site of the Boston Tea Party. There is often a fruit and vegetable stand next to it, as well as an used books stand. These stands are both on Milk St.; you’ll have to stay on this street until Devonshire St. where you will turn right.

G: You will then be in the Financial District; it’s time to admire skyscrapers from the pavement. At the Post Office square that you’ll reach by turning left on Franklin St., you’ll be able to see them from a distance; sat on benches amid trees or at a small café outdoor terrace.

H: After this detour, retrace your steps on Franklin St. and take Federal St. on your left. If you go straight, you’ll reach South Station; you can also veer right then left then right then left again and finally reach Essex St from where you’ll be able to see South Station. It’s a detour to explore the area more in depth.

At South Station, you can now take the Fortpoint Seaport trek if you want to explore more; you’ll cross the Fort point channel; see the skyscrapers from a distance; discover more secret and not so secret places in the city.

Good to know: There are restrooms in South Station; in the department stores; at the entrance of the parking under the Post Office Plaza (take the escalator that goes down). Food options are plentiful along your way; you’ll find benches in the different parks of this trek.

T-stop: South Station (start and end).

Tips for the scout: they are welcome, see suggestions at the bottom of the page. Thanks in advance for your contribution!


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