|Overview – 1855-1859 – 1860-1864 – 1865-1869 – 1870-1874 – 1875-1879 – 1880-1884 – 1885-1889 – 1890-1899 – 1900-1909 – 1910-2015|
Filling of the Back Bay continued through the 1870s. The pace of construction remained strong through 1872 and then declined significantly for the remainder of the decade. Of the 242 buildings built in the residential portion of the Back Bay between 1870 and 1874, 207 (86%) were built in 1870-1872, with about half of that amount in 1872.
There were at least two reasons for the dramatic drop in construction after 1872. The first was the November 9, 1872, fire which destroyed much of the financial and commercial district of Boston, seriously impacting many of the businessmen who would have been most likely to build in the Back Bay. The second was the Panic of 1873 and subsequent depression which affected the economies of both Europe and the United States, lasting until about 1879.
Although construction remained strong in 1872, the real estate market had begun to decline even before the Fire and the Panic (perhaps, in part, because of over-building in the new neighborhood). As a result, in March of 1872 the Commissioners on Public Lands suspended sales of Back Bay lands owned by the Commonwealth. It did not resume selling land until May of 1879.
In 1873, the Brattle Square Unitarian Church was built at 100 Commonwealth (southwest corner of Clarendon). A victim of the economic times, the church closed in 1875 and it became the First Baptist Church in the early 1880s.
Also during the early 1870s, two multiple dwellings were built in the Back Bay: the Hotel Agassiz at 191 Commonwealth (northeast corner of Exeter), consisting of six floor-through “French flats,” and the Hotel Vendôme at 290 Dartmouth (southwest corner of Commonwealth), consisting of a main building at the corner and five townhouses, connected with the hotel, to the west on Commonwealth.
The map below indicates when a building was first constructed on a specific lot through 1874. Included are lots within the residential portion of the Back Bay, as defined for purposes of this website, plus buildings on the north side of Newbury. The dates used are based on original permit applications or similar documentation, when available. When no such documentation is available, the dates provided in Bainbridge Bunting’s Houses of Boston’s Back Bay are used.
Following the map is a list of the 242 buildings constructed between 1870 and 1874 in the residential portion of the Back Bay.
Click here for a link to maps showing the progress of construction from 1855 through 2015, in slideshow format.
Below is a list of the 242 buildings constructed between 1870 and 1874 in the residential portion of the Back Bay. Houses indicated as demolished were replaced by 2015.