Tucked downtown between Chinatown and the Financial District is a small but significant space part of the city’s history. The Leather district became was it is today in the late 1800s as a booming part of Boston’s commercial endeavors. Today, many of the buildings are used still by local companies for their city headquarters and storefronts.
The land used to be nonexistent in early Boston history until it was filled in around the 1830s. Apartment buildings and residential areas were to be in this district, but the fire of 1872 had businesses fleeing to the land instead to start recovering. Buildings from this era still stand today, most tightly packed into long street space due to constraints and quick growth. Most of the structures reflect a classic revival and Romanesque design, created by famous architects from the Peabody and Stearns firm.
In 1983, the Leather District was named part of the U.S. Register of Historic Places for its worthiness of preservation and historical significance. Today the area is still mostly commercial and frequented by business professionals from the financial district and residents of Chinatown. A few people have claimed the top floors as lofted apartments with modern fixtures to be close to work and the heart of Boston.
On the street, there are many restaurants, cafés and deli’s that mostly specialize in takeaway and cheap eats to cater to the business lunch crowd. There are a couple sushi palaces to try as well as Hei Lei Moon, known as one of the best dim sum spots in the city. Figaro’s and Boston Deli Deluxe have fresh wraps and paninis that can be take and enjoyed at the nearby Chinatown park or even Dewey square. Two staples of the late night crowd include the famous South Street Diner open seven late nights a week and the Corner Pub.
Shopping is not often done in the area, but there are a few stores that can offer services such as luggage repair, painting supplies and even piano lessons. There is also a new sports and fitness center located on Atlantic Avenue. The streets are less busy than in other parts of Boston, so pedestrians can observe the historic buildings and design with a leisurely walk through the district.
Venturing out of the Leather District is simple, with South Station red line within a few minutes walking distance. The Chinatown gate can be seen from Beach Street and the main city-to-city bus terminal on the opposite end.
With its small land space and lack of residents there are few events taking place in the leather district. Some gatherings in Chinatown will spill over into the part of Beach Street that is this area, including Chinese New Year parades. Several restaurants will take part in annual sponsorship of foodie gatherings around the city, and others will participate in Boston’s annual Restaurant Week every March.