Downtown Boston101 Arch Street, Suite 160 Boston, MA 02110
About the area
The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID) encompasses a 34-block area between Tremont and Congress Streets and Court and Boylston Streets that includes Downtown Crossing, the Ladder District and parts of the Financial District and Theater Districts.
Downtown Boston's strength lies in its diversity. The area is made up of a densely layered collage of commercial and residential buildings; educational, government, and cultural institutions; world-class theaters and a burgeoning restaurant and nightlife scene; public transit; 35 million square feet of office space; and, most important, people from all demographics who fill it with energy.
This vibrant heart of Boston offers an experience of city life at its best. Everything is within walking distance as commerce intersects with leisure. People from near and far enliven the 24-hour neighborhood as they gather to enjoy a meal, shop, meet friends, work or find cultural diversions. For many of them, it's the place they call home.
Boston's colonial leaders once called Downtown Boston home, and the district's residents traded on the wharves and in shops leading from the waterfront. The seat of government was the Old State House at the head of State Street. The main freshwater source for the area gave Spring Lane its name.
Much of downtown's street pattern dates from the 17th century. Contrary to legend, cows did not lay out Boston streets, although many of the streets between Washington and Tremont were once cow paths leading to the Common. Today's Washington Street was the main road in colonial Boston and was lined with buildings at an early date.
By the mid-19th century, the semi-rural area around Washington Street was adapted to commercial uses. The Great Fire of November 1872 destroyed more than 500 buildings in a 65-acre area. Property owners reconstructed the district within several years, often rebuilding in Victorian-era styles. Because the fire stopped at Washington Street, a number of so-called "pre-fire" buildings survive in the blocks between Washington and Tremont streets, such as the Old South Meeting House.
By the late 19th century, early skyscrapers began to make their appearance in Downtown Crossing as retail establishments evolved into major department stores and financial institutions moved beyond their traditional homes in the Post Office Square area.
The turn of the century saw the growth of the theater district that had been concentrated in the area of lower Washington and Tremont streets beginning around 1836. Movie palaces, ornate purveyors of motion pictures, came onto the scene in the 1920s. By 1935, downtown Boston had 40 theaters. Six of them shared the lower Washington Street block that now features the Boston Opera House, Modern Theatre, and Paramount Center. These three restored theater gems offer almost-nightly live performances, films, and dance.
Things to do
Whether you have to make a quick purchase or are looking forward to a leisurely afternoon of shopping, you'll find everything you need among more than 200 retailers and 300 independent jewelers in Downtown Boston.
With more than 100 restaurants, Downtown can take you from breakfast on the run to a business lunch to a leisurely gourmet dinner. The area has become a favorite dining destination as classic institutions are joined by modern fare.
The lights are always on, and the streets teem with life every evening. Music, dancing, block parties, the latest cocktail craze, or some good conversation at a neighborhood pub: it's all here in Downtown Boston.
The magic of theater, art, music, and film have cast their spell over historic Downtown Boston with the revival of the Theater District, a lively movie scene, galleries, and concerts at lunchtime and in the evenings. And a stroll along the Freedom Trail takes you to some of the nation's oldest institutions, icons of freedom such as the Old South Meeting House, Old City Hall, and the Old State House.
There's always something happening Downtown! Check out our Events Calendar for a complete listing of concerts, shows, markets, and more.
There is no more exciting, vibrant, or convenient place to live than Downtown Boston. From high-rise apartments with breathtaking views, to renovated lofts and student dormitories, there's a place for everyone here.
Learn about why residents love living Downtown by following the links to the left for testimonials from actual residents, available property listings, and things to do once you're here.
- What's Happening Downtown
- Things to Do
- What Our Residents Say
- City Services
- Residential Real Estate Listings
- Development Projects
Downtown Crossing, the Ladder District, and parts of the Theater and Financial Districts are located in the heart of Boston. As the cultural and economic capital of New England, there is no better place to do business than Downtown. With over 160,000 employees, 8,000 residents, and 13,000 students in downtown Boston, more than 250,000 pedestrians cross through the District each day. The 4.5 million visitors who walk the Freedom Trail each year come to shop, dine, and learn about our history.
Downtown customers bring over $3.1 billion in annual buying power. The residential population is growing fast with over $800 million in planned investments in new mixed-use developments. Downtown Boston has seen more than 60 new retailers and restaurants open in the past three years. And more than $2.4 billion has been invested in renovations, upgrades, and new construction in the past 10 years.
For an informative overview of our dynamic downtown environment, click on the "Research" link to the left to sample a variety of studies and surveys.
WHAT WE DO
The Downtown Boston Business Improvement District creates a clean, safe, and vibrant environment for everyone who spends time in the area. Our mission is to transform downtown through programs and supplemental services targeting area needs.
Clean and Hospitality Ambassadors
The Downtown Boston BID's Clean & Hospitality Ambassadors are hard at work seven days a week, nearly 24 hours a day, providing a wide range of supplemental services to downtown. From powerwashing and graffiti removal to assisting stranded motorists and helping visitors with directions, the Ambassadors are on the job!
Downtown Boston BID Ambassadors are pleased to provide walking escorts throughout the BID district all year-long. Just call the BID Customer Service Hotline at 617-261-0066 at least 20 minutes prior to when you need an escort.
Ambassadors Making A Difference: Customer Feedback
The Downtown Boston BID receives dozens of compliments a month from people from all over the world--as well as locals in the community--who have received vital assistance to our Clean & Hospitality Ambassadors. Click on the headline above to browse through some of the highlights.
Events and Programming
From seasonal favorites such as the Downtown Crossing Block Parties and Holiday Market, to newer traditions--like Celebrate Downtown Boston week--the Downtown Boston BID continuously activates the downtown streetscape with lively programming.
With its municipal partners and agencies, the Downtown Boston BID works to assess downtown's overall built environment, alert constituencies to upcoming infrastructure changes, provide mitigation for construction impacts, and develop and implement recommendations for uniform streetscape upgrades.
Upgrading Streetscapes & Beautification
From overhead hanging planters, to wind banners, holiday starlights, and more, the Downtown Boston BID vigorously works to beautify and enhance the downtown streetscape through a wide range of visual amenities.
Downtown Boston Public Art (Pause)
"Pause" is the Downtown Boston BID's public art program. Its first installation, "Color Crossing," is an interactive piece by Kate Gilbert and Halsey Burglund. It is going up on the wall at Music Hall Place, the alleyway entrance to the Corner Mall between 15-17 Winter St.
Marketing and Promotion
Through a variety of channels--weekly e-newsletter, social media, outdoor poster campaigns, maps, promotional literature, special events, and more--the Downtown Boston BID helps get the word out about downtown's numerous attractions, assets, and amenities.
Connecting to Social Services
Committed to ensuring the best possible downtown experience for everyone, the Downtown Boston BID collaborates with numerous social service agencies to provide a diverse array of outreach services.
Across multiple communication channels--weekly e-newsletter, social media, this website, targeted e-blasts--the Downtown Boston BID keeps a global audience informed of everything happening in our dynamic downtown: groundbreakings, new businesses, special events and promotions, and more!
THE MOST ACCESSIBLE LOCATION IN BOSTON
Traveling to and from Downtown Boston is easy and direct, whether you are on foot, bicycling, driving, or taking the T. Downtown is the heart of the transit system, with more than 250,000 pedestrian trips and 230,000 MBTA trips daily. Several Hubway stations provide the opportunity to pick up a rental bike, and bike racks are located on nearly every street.
Please visit the Public Transit , Walking , Bicycling , and Driving & Parking subpages in the Getting Here section for detailed information about getting to, from, and around downtown Boston.