Head straight north from Boston Common and you'll hit Beacon Hill, one of the city's most exclusive and historic neighborhoods. Here you'll find brick sidewalks, a few cobblestone lanes, and gas lit streetlamps exuding a glow of a different era. If impressed and in awe, you are not alone. This is where a well-known and diverse collection of Americans have chosen to live in the past several hundred years: colonialist John Hancock, poet Robert Frost, politician Edward Kennedy, singer Carly Simon, and actress Uma Thurman – and that's only to name a few.
This cozy 19th century village-like neighborhood lies in the heart of the big city and is home to some 10,000 residents. It is often visited by tourists absorbing the air and history of New England. The architecture is mostly brick row houses from the Federal, Greek Revival, and Victorian periods, usually well adorned with cascading flowers in window boxes and decorative iron work. Built on a hill, with the Massachusetts State House on the top overlooking Boston Common, the neighborhood's main commercial street - Charles Street - runs in a north-south direction near the Charles River Basin. Along with Cambridge Street, Charles Street is famous for its numerous antique and home decorating stores, specialty food shops, and restaurants.
Despite its relatively small size, Beacon Hill is densely packed with attractions and sites of interest that are easily reached on foot. On less than half a square mile you'll find sites such as the Massachusetts State House with its copper dome leafed in gold, the Charles Street Meeting House (which has served as a church for numerous Christian denominations since the early 1800s), and the Museum of Afro-American History (which includes the African Meeting House on 46 Joy Street and the adjacent Abiel Smith School.)
For more current culture and history, don't miss Cheers Beacon Hill on Beacon Street, which inspired the highly rated TV show "Cheers", a classic after running for 11 straight seasons on NBC.