Alex R. Goldfeld


Boston's public historian

The second Harrison Gray Otis House (1801) on Beacon Hill.

The Fall and Rise of Beacon Hill
For more than 100 years, Beacon Hill was largely uninhabited and considered to be the undesirable backside of Boston. John Hancock's uncle built the family mansion on the South side of the hill in 1737, joining a handful of other large, if remote, homes. By the 1780s, a small Black community had settled on the North part of the hill.


Beginning in 1795, however, a wildly successful real estate venture created the prestigious and beautiful neighborhood we know today. As part of this transformation, the once three-peaked hill was greatly reduced in height, and two street grids, one for each side of the hill, were laid out. Only Joy Street connected both sides of Beacon Hill, running from Boston Common through the West End.


The architect Charles Bulfinch, the politician Harrison Gray Otis, and many of the "Brahmins" of Boston will be introduced on this tour.


Minimum Tour Time is 60 minutes