Shopping takes the forefront in Boston's Back Bay area

November 03, 1996|By Mary G. Ramos | Mary G. Ramos,DALLAS MORNING NEWS

What do you do in Boston after you've walked the Freedom Trail, paddled around the Public Garden on a Swan Boat and taken a trolley tour?

You shop, of course.

Many visitors head for the famous Filene's Basement, which squares off at its Downtown Crossing location with Jordan Marsh, the largest store in New England. And there's Copley Place, where you find the old faithfuls such as Neiman Marcus and Gucci, and the Prudential Center, with Saks and Lord & Taylor.

But for old Boston elegance -- with a bit of funk thrown in -- you must meander along Newbury Street in the Back Bay neighborhood.

In eight jam-packed blocks, you find more than 300 shops housing designer boutiques, art galleries, florists and hair and nail salons, sprinkled with about two dozen restaurants and bars, topped off with a Ben and Jerry's ice-cream shop.

Most are housed in beautifully restored 19th-century brownstones and early 20th-century Victorians, providing for a visual treat that contributes as much to the experience of shopping on Newbury as does the chic merchandise.

Newbury Street is a block north of and parallel to Boylston Street. The Public Garden is at the east end; Massachusetts Avenue is on the west. Boylston is the street on which are found the Prudential Center (which locals call "the Pru"), the Boston Public Library and Copley Square, with its Richardsonian Trinity Church.

Newbury's shops house such emporiums as super-chic Alan Bilzerian Inc.; the famed bride's shop, Priscilla of Boston; Towers Records/Video, New England's largest music store; Firestone and Parson, offering fine and rare jewelry and antique silver; Cartier; and the ubiquitous Laura Ashley.

In the midst of the antiques and designer attire is the Back Bay Harley-Davidson. I am not making this up. The shop, which TC features a snow-white Harley hog in its Victorian bay window, sells clothing and other items with the Harley-Davidson logo.

There are even a couple of upscale resale shops.

For a bit of whimsy, don't miss Du Barry Restaurant Francais at 159 Newbury. I haven't sampled the food, but the building has a traffic-stopper of a mural on an exterior wall facing a parking lot.

The mural, completed in 1991, contains 60 portraits of men and women important to the history of Massachusetts -- artists, architects, writers, musicians, athletes, inventors and politicians. You can find everyone from the Marquis de Lafayette to Babe Ruth, from Frederick Douglass to Sammy Davis Jr. A plaque conveniently located at the sidewalk identifies all the subjects.

For more information, contact the Newbury Street League Inc., 158 Newbury St., Boston, Mass. 02116; (617) 267-7961. Or visit its Web page:

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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