If you love going to public beaches, schools, botanical gardens or almost anywhere by subway, Boston says “you’re welcome.”
Besides being one of the original 13 colonies and a major player in shaping U.S. history, Boston led the way on many of our most valued public institutions, creating models later adopted across the U.S.
First in public education
Boston established the country’s first public school in 1635 under the auspices of Reverend John Cotton, who believed young men of all social classes and means should be educated in the classics. Boston Latin School, first held in the home of schoolmaster Philemon Pormort, was initially supported by donations, reflecting an emphasis on the importance of education still alive in the city today. Women were admitted beginning in the 1800s, and its first female graduate, Helen Magill White, was the first American woman to earn a doctorate. Boston Latin has produced five signers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, four Harvard University presidents, four Massachusetts governors, and five signers of the United States Declaration of Independence; notable dropouts include Benjamin Franklin. New York and Washington D.C. later established schools based on the model. Boston Latin School is still in operation today and its motto, appropriately, is Sumus Primi, Latin for “we are first”. Boston Latin School is a beautiful 30-minute walk from Newbury Guest House along the famous Emerald Necklace.
First in public gardens
And speaking of the Emerald Necklace… It’s part of Boston Public Gardens, more than 1,000 acres of parks that are always open, and always free. The concept was a new one in 1870, when Boston was a crowded, dirty, noisy place. City officials worried about the wellbeing of their fellow citizens hired the renowned landscape architect Frederic Law Olmstead to design a public park system, which became the nation’s first. The Emerald Necklace itself represents only half of Boston’s park acreage and is the only remaining linear park designed by Olmstead, the first landscape architect in America. Its lovely botanical gardens, enchanting waterways, sweeping meadows and tree museums provide Bostonians and visitors alike a vital connection to nature right in the heart of the city – and a model for cities across the nation that now offer millions of citizens beautiful spaces to relax, play, find peace and enjoy the outdoors. The nation’s first (and in our opinion, most beautiful) public garden is just a 10-minute walk from Newbury Guest House.
First in public beaches
On July 12, 1896, the Massachusetts Metropolitan Park opened a three-mile stretch of coastline in what was once a farming community to all state citizens, creating Revere Beach, the first public beach in the nation. An estimated 45,000 eager bathers turned out on opening day, and a historic heat wave the same year drove tens of thousands more to its shores seeking relief. When a rail link was constructed to the beach in 1875, it grew to become a hugely popular recreation area hosting as many as a million people each weekend who came for the waves as well as the restaurants, ballrooms, skating rinks and bowling alleys that sprang up along the shore. Three of its famous roller coasters (which are now dismantled, perhaps for the best) became famous: the wooden Cyclone, which was the tallest roller coaster ever built at the time of its 1925 construction; the Derby Racer, dual racing rollercoasters; and the Lightning, another wooden roller coaster. The Revere Beach Reservation Historic District is now on the National Register of Historic Places. Revere Beach is just 20 minutes by ‘T’ from Newbury Guest house.
First in subways
In perhaps its most transformative first, Boston revolutionized urban transportation by establishing the first subway system in the U.S., a feat that changed the life and landscape of cities worldwide.
In the late 19th century, Boston and its population were growing so rapidly, and its main streets so clogged with trolleys, that the going gripe among citizens was that they could get where they were going faster by walking along the roofs of stalled streetcars. In 1891 Massachusetts’ governor and Boston’s mayor appointed a Transit Commission to come up with a solution, and the first practical subway line was constructed on Boston’s Tremont Street between 1895 and 1897.
Today, the subway (known locally as the ‘T’) is part of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, one of the largest and most accessible systems in the country, and as of 2021, the largest American transit agency to use electricity produced from 100% renewable sources. Nearly one million people use the MBTA system daily. The ‘T’ Orange Line is a quick 15-minute walk from Newbury Guest House and will take you from the Back Bay to just about anywhere in town.
Well, maybe not first, but definitely hole and glaze above the rest. The first Dunkin’ Donuts opened just outside of town in Quincy in1948 and is still in operation today. Originally called The Open Kettle, it received its ubiquitous moniker two years later and today is the largest donut chain in the world, serving more than 60 cups of coffee per second and 2.9 billion donuts annually. Craving a chocolate frosted or Boston Kreme (two of the town’s top favorites)? There’s a Dunkin’ just four minutes on foot from Newbury Guest house.
First in Old-World charm and modern comfort
We like to think that’s Newbury Guest House. The only boutique hotel on Boston’s famed Newbury Street, Newbury Guest House sits in the heart of the Back Bay’s premiere historic brownstone district – a charming home base from which to explore the city’s fascinating history, elegant architecture, high-end dining and nightlife, world-class shopping, renowned universities, and legendary Fenway Park. The three former single-family Victorian residences that now comprise hotel were built in the Queen Anne and Rustic styles and joined in the 1990s to create our small, stylish, 35-room boutique hotel in the heart of Boston. Along with all the modern amenities you’d expect you’ll find many of the homes’ original details, along with a welcoming staff ready to make your stay delightful.