The South End lost many residents to the Back Bay in the late 19th century, but in the late 1970s, middle-class professionals began snapping up town houses at bargain prices and restoring them. Solidly back in fashion now, the South End's redbrick row houses in various states of refurbished splendor now house a mix of ethnic groups, the city's largest gay community, and some excellent shops and restaurants.
Today a large African American community resides along Columbus Avenue and Mass Ave. (short for Massachusetts Avenue), which marks the beginning of the predominantly black neighborhood of Roxbury. Boston's gay community also has a strong presence in the South End, with most of the gay-oriented restaurants and businesses on Columbus Avenue and Tremont Street between East Berkeley Street and Mass Ave. If you like to shop, you'll have a blast in this area, which focuses on home furnishings and accessories, with a heavy accent on the unique and handmade. At the northern tip of the South End, where Harrison Avenue and Washington Street lead to Chinatown, are several Chinese supermarkets. South of Washington Street is the "SoWa" District, home to a large number of art galleries, many of which have relocated here from pricey Newbury Street. From May through October, the excellent SoWa Open Market on Sundays is a great excursion, packed with artists, food trucks, and a farmers’ market.