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Back Bay Art and Architecture Walk

Copley Square

Back Bay’s hub, embraces a range of architectural styles from Romanesque Revival to Bauhaus-inspired skyscrapers. Fairmount Copley Plaza Hotel's Oak Long Bar and Kitchen, with its catbird seats, offers a perfect place to begin your walk. Designed in 1912 by Henry Hardenbergh, five years after his famed Plaza Hotel in Manhattan, the hotel underwent a $20-million centenary renovation. Boston Public Library, housing 9 million books, was conceived by architects Mead, McKim, and White, who opted for an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Modern architect Philip Johnson’s 1972 wing respectfully reflects the original.

The Pru and Commonwealth Avenue

Heading up Boylston Street with the Library on your left, you’ll find the 52-story Prudential Tower, built in the 1960s, and affectionately dubbed "The Pru." On a clear day from the top-floor Skywalk, you’ll see sweeping vistas of Boston. With the Pru behind you, take Gloucester Street across Newbury to Commonwealth Avenue, turn left, and cross Massachusetts Avenue to 395 Commonwealth, where you'll see Louis Comfort Tiffany's famous Ayer Mansion.

Boston Public Garden

At the bronze statue of George Washington at the foot of Commonwealth Avenue, enter Boston Public Garden, America's oldest botanical garden sheltering 24 acres of weeping willow, elm, spruce, and dawn redwood. The garden pond is spanned by a faux-suspension bridge while the garden itself abuts Boston Common. Exit with Washington behind you, walk one block to Newbury Street, turn right and head towards the Gothic Revival Church of the Covenant, on Newbury Street at Berkeley, built in 1867.

Trinity Church and Hancock Tower

Take Berkeley one block to Boylston Street then head back up Boylston to Copley Square to visit its crowning centerpiece, Trinity Church. This 1877 Romanesque Revival masterpiece conceived by Henry Hobson Richardson exhibits sumptuously carved interior woodwork, ornamented ceilings, and intricate stained glass. Another architectural award winner is the John Hancock Tower, behind Trinity Church on St. James Street. Architect Henry Cobb managed to construct this modernist 58-story building without disrupting the square’s scale and proportion in part by having the glass panels mirror Trinity Church.

Walks - Map_Chart

Updated: 2014-04-16

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