About Beacon Hill

Beacon Hill is a historic area in downtown Boston that is now synonymous with the statehouse and wealth, but has been an inhabited location since the first settlers came to Boston in 1625. In fact, the very first settler in Boston, Reverend William Blackstone, also spelled Blaxton, owned Beacon Hill until 1635, when he sold it and left the town. There is still a plaque bearing his name just outside of Boston Common, which is adjacent to Beacon Hill.

After Blackstone left Boston to become the first European settler in Rhode Island, Beacon Hill gradually became a residential area. It was one of the three original hills that covered Shawmut Peninsula, on which central Boston is situated, before major land reclamation projects rendered the other two unrecognizable. Beacon Hill escaped this treatment. For some time, it had very different social landscapes along each side.

The north side was the more seedy side of Beacon Hill all the way up until the mid 20th century. The north slope was also predominately African American in the 19th century and was home to many an abolitionist and famous African American. The south side of the hill was for the upper class white residents. Today, the hill is not separated by race, but there is a stark contrast in class between Beacon Hill and pretty much the rest of Massachusetts.

Famous people that have resided on Beacon Hill include Louisa May Alcott, the author of Little Women, Robert Frost, a famous poet and Uma Thurman, a famous actress. There have also been countless politicians and public servants who made their homes on Beacon Hill in the past 300 years. The Massachusetts State House has been on Beacon Street there since the turn of the 19th century.

Today, Beacon Hill boasts Georgian townhouses throughout the neighborhood. The streets are narrow and paved with uneven bricks. They are still lit with gaslights and, to those without a keen eye, it appears to be a humble place that was forgotten by time. Upon closer inspection, it becomes obvious that these things are left as is for romantic effect because some of the wealthiest people in all of Massachusetts dwell on Beacon Hill. Any residents with less of an income would not be able to afford the steep cost of living there.

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