Saturday, August 27, 2022

Veni, vidi, vici!

We headed to the North End (Boston's  Little Italy) Monday for our food and history tour with Paula Noukos, owner and guide from Off the Eaton Path. Our first attempt a week ago fell through, but it was well worth trying a second time. While Paula is not a native north ender, her knowledge of the area and it's history made the tour one not to miss. Thanks Zia and Josh! Below are our combined pictures from both of our visits to the North End.

The North End is the city's oldest neighborhood, inhabited by Europeans since the 1630's. In the early 1800's many wealthy families and artisans lived there. In the first half of the 19th century it experienced a significant amount of commercial development. During this time it developed a red light district, known as the Black Sea. Ann Street, lol, was one of the streets with brothels and saloons. By the 1840's living conditions in the crowded North End were among the worst in the city. 

A wave of immigrants settled in this community. First Irish and then Eastern European, Jews and Italians. By the early 20th century the area was dominated by Jewish and Italian immigrants. During this time it was hit hard by the Spanish Inflenza Pandemic and The Great Molasses Flood.  

In the 1950's the Central Artery was built to relieve Boston's traffic congestion. The highways and associated ramps basicly isolated the North End from downtown Boston. During the late 20th century the Central Artery was dismantled and replaced by the Big Dig, an underground tunnel. With the construction many businesses closed but the North End was reunited with downtown Boston. 

In the 60's there were under 10 Italian restaurants today there are near 80! Lots of tourists about.

A walk, a subway ride, and another walk (about 1 1/2 hours) to the North End. 

We have walked the Freedom Trail in the past.  Today we walked past a few of the sites on the trail.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace in downtown Boston dates back to 1742. It fell into disrepair in the mid 1900's but was renovated in 1976. It houses 49 stores, many eateries and pubs, along with 40+ push-carts. You can find various street performers along the promenade.

We had extra time so we enjoyed the swings overlooking the garden.

In the background is the old Boston Custom House Tower. The original building was built in 1837-1847 and the tower was added in 1913-1915. It was officially Boston's first skyscraper and maintained that title until 1964. It is now a timeshare resort by Marriott. 

We met Paula in North Square. She began our tour with some history of the North End.

 At our first stop, Galleria Umberto, we were met with a pizza slice and a Sicilian Rice Ball (Arancini). 

Paula knew a lot of locals.  John was eating nearby so we invited him over to join us for lunch. 

Our second food stop was at one of the few small shops still in the district. 

They spread sawdust on the floors to keep it from being slippery with the wet weather.

Here we tasted Olive oil and Balsalmic Vinegar so we would know what to look for in authentic Italian products. Also had goat cheese and prosciutto.

A small local bookstore. The small stores have or had awnings of various colors to identify themselves. For example, a green awning indicated a florist. 

This is the border of Little Italy and downtown Boston. Earlier in the 1900's you would have found ramps and highways dividing this area. In 2007 work was completed moving roads underground,  rejoining Boston and the North End.

Hidden in alleys was this gem. It was started to provide baked goods for the owners 7 restaurants.

I don't remember it's name but our pastry at our third stop was delicious.

Our final stop.

First we chose between coffee or tea with a
Cannoli. I had given up on Cannoli but this changed my mind. It was out of this world!
This was the end of our tour. Before we left we got to choose one of their Gelato's or Sherberts.

The Mariners House at 11 North Square is basicly a hotel exclusively for documented men and women who work at sea and their families. It was built in 1847.

Originally the Seaman's Bethel, Sacred Heart Italian Church bought this building on North Square in 1888. It was built in 1833.

In downtown Boston this tavern claims to be America's oldest Tavern, built in 1795.

We really enjoyed our day(s) in the North End.  The food was fantastic and we learned so much. I came, I saw, I conquered!
Where are the Piepers now?  Cambridge, MA

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