Right in the heart of Boston proper, this hopping neighborhood is a shopper’s delight and teeming hub of activity. It’s small, but is most friendly towards pedestrians with its large walkway down the center that caters to those strolling and exploring. People will wander here from nearby areas such as the Financial District, Chinatown, Boston Common and even Faneuil Hall. With an ever changing roster of stores and sights, no two visits are the same.
The main drag of Summer Street that cuts through Downtown Crossing has always been a hub of activity ever since the late 18th century. It used to be more residential for affluent members of the city, until the Great Boston Fire in 1872 torched many of the buildings. Later on the redevelopment efforts alongside those in neighborhood Faneuil Hall made this area a shopping destination for locals and tourists alike. Big name department stores moved into Downtown Crossing, like the flagship Jordan Marsh and Filene’s that are now defunct. In the 2000s, property was starting to be used for residents again, including the Millennium Place completed in 2013. This houses more than 250 units in a luxury high rise, neighbored by the Ritz Carlton Hotel, sports clubs and movie theaters.
Recently, the face of Downtown Crossing has been changing with new business contracts. They were reserving space for a proposed casino, but the idea has been put on the backburner. For now, there is a brand new Roche Bros. supermarket that 9-to-5ers are frequenting for lunch and grocery shopping after work for high quality prepared foods. If looking for more of a sit-down meal, the wide selection of restaurants in the area include Petit Robert’s French bistro, Marliave for Italian and Stoddard’s for classic American.
There’s a little bit of classic city history in this part of town too. Visit the Modern Theater, owned by Suffolk University, to see where Boston’s first talking film was screened. A short walk away in the modern Lowes Theater where guests can catch recent blockbusters on 19 separate screens. Keep an eye out for the Boston Irish Famine Memorial on the corner of Washington and School Streets as well.
Luckily, everything is centrally located and easy to reach from other parts of Boston. Taxis and Ubers are plentiful, but the simplest route is the MBTA, or subway. The Downtown Crossing stop is large with several entries and exits, connecting to the Red Line, Orange Line and Silver bus line.
It is best to be in Downtown Crossing during favorable weather, especially late spring and summer. While much of the outdoor activity shuts down during the winter, in warmer months there is much happening along Summer Street. Business professionals from the Financial District will frequent the classic food carts and fruit stands for lunch. Stages sponsored by local organizations and non-profits will hosts talented bands for impromptu concerts and performances.
However, Macy’s department store does a holiday tree lighting and there are several Christmas markets that do pop up for hearty outdoor shoppers.