Beacon Hill is best known as the capital seat of Massachusetts, as the most
prominent building in the neighborhood is the Massachusetts State House, which with its golden
dome is a landmark on Beacon Street. The neighborhood traces its name to another landmark - a
centry light that was built on the peak of the hill to warn residents of the Massachusetts Bay
Colony of impending danger from Native Americans or foreign invaders.
The beacon remained on the hill until about 1790, when the State House was
built and other residential districts along Louisburg Square and Mount Vernon Street were
developed. Like the Back Bay, Beacon Hill encompasses an area that was once part of the Charles
River; the section known as "the flat" was filled in the late 19th century.
Today, the area is framed by Massachusetts General Hospital, Charles River
Park, the State House, and the Hatch Shell on the Esplanade. Charles Street and Cambridge Street
are the neighborhood's commercial boulevards, featuring many fine restaurants and interesting
shops. More popular among tourists, however, are the hill's narrow residential streets, where
visitors can observe a mix of architectural styles, a legacy that is strictly guarded by the
local architectural commission.
Parking in Beacon Hill is difficult to come by, but the neighborhood is easily
accessible to the MBTA's Red and Green Lines.