Downtown Boston Becomes An Urban Epicenter Transformed

Posted December 7, 2016 by Kayla Baker in Downtown Crossing
Millennium Tower Boston stands in the heart of DTX. Photo Credit: David Ryan

If you talk to an older Boston native, they’ll tell you stories about how Downtown Crossing used to be. This downtown neighborhood, filled with seedy playhouses and questionable characters, was altogether avoided by all but the most foolhardy citizens. Fast-forward 40 years and Downtown Crossing is now all but unrecognizable. Beautiful luxury towers dot the skyline and people dart between work, home, and play in their best business casual. Surprisingly enough, this complete makeover in Downtown Boston was not a slow and steady process. In fact, the difference made within the last year alone is striking.

At the heart of Downtown Crossing stands the glittering Millennium Tower Boston. For four years the space at 1 Franklin Street was a vacant lot scarred by a huge crater, but the building that now stands in its place boasts 442 luxury residences, offices, and a completely filled retail space. Next to the building is a community plaza with a modern glass staircase reminiscent of the TKTS Pavilion in Times Square. The residents of Millennium Tower Boston are filling this once dilapidated area with life, and this is attracting the attention of the entire city.

Photo Credit: Jimmy Prudente

PABU is located on the second floor of Millennium Tower Boston. Photo Credit: Jimmy Prudente

The dedicated retail space at Millennium Tower Boston and its neighbor, the Burnham Building, are offering not only convenience and style to the neighborhood’s residents, but also unique shopping and dining options to other Boston residents. The renowned café and espresso bar Caffè Nero, whose first Boston location is always packed full with students and young professionals alike, has opened another downtown location in the Burnham Building at 10 Summer Street to service the thousands of people who find themselves downtown and in need of a pick-me-up. For diners with a more sophisticated palate, the city’s first Japanese gastro pub, Pabu, recently opened in the building. And Irish retailer Primark’s decision to open their first US location in this historic space keeps the Burnham Building buzzing with activity reminiscent of the address’ old Filene’s Basement days.

Haley.Henry Photo Credit: Brian Samuels

Haley.Henry Photo Credit: Brian Samuels

It only took one small spark to ignite a wildfire of activity that began the much-needed revitalization of downtown. Over the past year, more and more restaurants have been opening their doors to the neighborhood’s newest inhabitants. For small plate lovers there is Yvonne’s modern supper club at 2 Winter Place, where diners can share culinary delights with close friends. Those looking for a brand new dining experience can find it at Haley.Henry at 45 Province Street in half bottles of wine, tinned fish, and eclectic charcuterie boards. And Doretta Taverna serves up some of the city’s best rustic Greek fare at their 79 Park Place location. These new additions to the downtown dining scene have newcomers and natives alike flocking to experience the best of what Downtown Boston has to offer.

The Godfrey HotelPhoto Courtesy of the Godfrey Hotel.

The Godfrey Hotel located at 505 Washington Street. Photo Courtesy of the Godfrey Hotel.

Along with the influx of Bostonians to the new nightlife downtown, travelers to Boston now have a luxury hotel option that was sorely needed in the area. The Godfrey Hotel opened its chic, minimalist doors at 505 Washington Street in February 2016 and promised visitors to the city a stay of modern luxury, complete with smartphone-controlled suites, access to exclusive club level services, and aesthetics that rival any other 5-star hotel. With so many shops and restaurants steps outside the Godfrey’s doors, as well as the trendy George Howell Coffee café inside the hotel itself, tourists can stay in the middle of everything without having to bother with pesky cabs or wayward Uber drivers. They can spend their entire trip in the center of the action.

Another crux to the modernization of downtown was the reopening of the Government Center subway stop. Government Center is a major hub for two of the city’s subway lines and serves as a gateway to Downtown Boston. In March of 2016, the station re-opened after an agonizing two-year closure. The station’s new and improved accessibility options, combined with a sleek glass entrance and modern white granite interior, perfectly serve the bustle of this newly enlivened area.

Much to the relief of local residents, the old Downtown Crossing is no more. In its place stands a new Downtown Crossing, an urban epicenter built upon a lifestyle that not only draws people to the area, but also keeps them there. This time last year, many would have said that making Downtown Boston a popular destination for travel, nightlife, and homes was still some distance away. But Boston has suddenly awoken to find that the future is now.