Allston, Boston, Massachusetts

Allston, Boston, Massachusetts

Allston is a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, USA, located in the western part of the city. It is comprised of the land covered by the zip code 02134.] For the most part, Allston is administered collectively with the adjacent neighborhood of Brighton. The two are often referred to together as "Allston-Brighton". A large portion of Allston's population is students, mostly from Boston University, Boston College, Harvard University, and Emerson College

Housing stock varies but largely consists of brick apartment buildings, especially on Commonwealth Avenue and the streets directly off of it; while areas further down Brighton Avenue, close to Brighton, are largely dotted with wooden triple-deckers. Lower Allston, across the Massachusetts Turnpike from the rest of Allston, consists of mostly 1890-1920s single-family and multi-family Victorian homes.


The estimated population of Allston is 21,485, a decline of 1.42% from the 2000 Census. The median home cost is $317,000, a decline of 0.97% in the last year. The cost of living is 9.81% higher than the national average. The population density is 18,505/mi2, about 50% higher than the citywide average of 12,166. The median age is 29.2. 76.45% of residents list status as single.

Allston, at the confluence of presence from Boston University, Boston College, and increasingly an expanding Harvard University, is primarily a student neighborhood, though many of its traditional residents remain, many of whom are immigrants from Russia and Eastern Asia.

In the 1990s, census figures indicated that 52.6% of its population was aged 20-34 (as compared to 33% for the city of Boston as a whole), an indication of the strong student and "twenty-something" presence. That presence has created tension between some long-time residents and the student population, which constantly cycles in and out as students matriculate and graduate from Boston's many colleges and universities. In addition to nightly dancing and live music at area bars, house parties abound on surrounding streets, particularly during the school year. This has long been a sore point among other Allston residents. [ Boston Phoenix article] ]

The largest religious affiliation is Catholic (44.96%), followed by Protestant (4.77%), unspecified Christian (4.62%), Jewish (3.58%), Baptist (2.10%), and Islam (1.97%).


The ZIP code 02134 is famously identified with Allston, due to a recurring musical piece on the PBS children's series "ZOOM" — whose originating station, WGBH, was located in the neighborhood until 2007. Residents and mapmakers refer to the eastern part of the former town of Brighton as "Allston." The border runs along Everett Street, continuing along Gordon Street and Kelton Street.

The neighborhood of Allston is almost completely cut off from the main body of the city of Boston by the town of Brookline, which borders Allston on the south and east. Allston is bordered by the Charles River, separating it from the city of Cambridge to the north, and is split in two by the Massachusetts Turnpike. The area north of the turnpike near the river is often referred to as "Lower Allston" or "North Allston." The western edge of Allston is more roughly defined, but is primarily east of the westernmost point of Cambridge.

The busiest section of the neighborhood lies immediately south of the turnpike and centers on the stretch of Harvard Avenue between Commonwealth Avenue and Cambridge Street, which houses many shops, bars and restaurants. Recent business promotion initiatives have dubbed this area "Allston Village", though the prevalence of musicians and music venues has given rise to the popular nickname "Allston Rock City".Fact|date=November 2007 The center of the neighborhood is sometimes referred to as the "Allston Shuffle".


Allston was an eastern section of the former town of Brighton.

In 1868, a new railroad depot and post office in Brighton's eastern portion were given the name "Allston" after Washington Allston, the noted painter who had lived and worked across the Charles River in the Cambridgeport section of Cambridge. It can even be said to have been named for a specific painting: Washington Allston's "Fields West of Boston".

Allston has never existed as a separate political entity in its own right. The Town of Brighton was annexed by the City of Boston in 1874.

The Allston community developed largely around large railroad and livestock operations. The Boston and Albany Railroad (now CSX) operated a major yard. Stockyards and a large abattoir operated nearby in the northern part of Brighton. Much of the railroad yard remains in use today as the CSX Beacon Park Yard, but all livestock activity ended by the mid-twentieth century.

A strip running from Brighton Avenue in Allston out Commonwealth Avenue toward Kenmore Square was Boston's original "Automile," lined with automobile dealerships. Packard's Sales Stable and Riding School [ History of Packard's Corner] ] gave Packard's Corner its name, which was then perpetuated by the presence of an opulent Packard dealership. Few dealers remain, but many of their large-windowed storefronts can be easily spotted to this day.

The Massachusetts Turnpike Extension, built largely on part of the Boston and Albany right-of-way, opened through Allston in 1964 and 1965. [ Mass Pike Website] ]

The Boston Patriots (now the New England Patriots) of the National Football League played one season in Allston, 1970, at Harvard Stadium. The Boston Braves played at Braves Field, (now Boston University's Nickerson Field), at Allston's eastern edge, from 1915 to 1952.

Colleges and universities

Allston lies near two major universities. A substantial part of the campus of Harvard University is in lower Allston, including Harvard Business School and Harvard Stadium. Harvard also owns large portions of other land in lower Allston, much of which it plans to develop as an academic campus. Boston University lies along Commonwealth Avenue to the east. Berklee College of Music also has a practice and rehearsal building near Commonwealth Avenue, on Fordham Road, which runs between Commonwealth Avenue and Brighton Avenue.

Notable residents

*Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, lived at 100 Brainerd Road as a small child
*Aerosmith, rock band - wrote their first song in 1325 Commonwealth Ave, Apt 41
*Thomas Johnson, world championship bodybuilder
*Evan Dando singer and guitarist for The Lemonheads
*Jared Leto actor, musician
*Janeane Garofalo
*Mr. Butch street performer
*Big D and the Kids Table band
*Toxic Narcotic, a hardcore punk band from Allston.
*The Allstonians, a reggae/rocksteady/ska band.


The "B" Branch of the Boston MBTA subway Green Line runs through the neighborhood along Commonwealth Avenue. The former "A Line" of the Green Line ran along Brighton Avenue, since replaced by the number 57 MBTA bus. Other MBTA bus lines serve Allston, such as the 64, 66, 70, and 86. 43.88% of residents commute by mass transit, compared with 2% for the country as a whole.

In May 2006, Harvard officials said that they would like to establish a commuter rail stop in Allston on the Framingham/Worcester line. [Harvard Crimson, " [ University Plans Allston T Stop] ," May 10, 2006.]


*In 2003, the community, along with neighboring Brighton, saw an outbreak of bedbugs in hundreds of apartments. This was due to the practice of people buying used mattresses or accepting ones left behind by former tenants, commonplace among Allston's bohemian artist and musician element.Fact|date=February 2007 A $200 subsidy was offered to tenants with infested mattresses [ Allston Brighton Development website] ] , and bedbug extermination workshops were held by the Boston Inspectional Services Housing Division.
*In 2005, the New England Foundation for the Arts selected a site in Allston for its Art & Community Landscapes program. [ NEFA site] ] The artist team of Legge Lewis Legge [ Legge Lewis Legge site] ] was chosen to design this site which is known as the Lincoln Street Green Strip. [ Lincoln Street] ]


Marchione, William P. "The Bull in the Garden: A History of Allston-Brighton." Boston Public Library, pub., 1986. ISBN 0-89073-078-4.

External links

* [ Brighton Allston Historical Society]
* [ Allston Neighborhoods]
* [ Allston Rock City Photos]
* [ Allston Brighton Community Development Corporation]
* [ Royal Street Website]
* [ Lower Allston Website]
* [ Chestnut Hill Reservoir/ Boston Water Supply History.]
* [ Chart of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay with Map of Adjacent Country.] Published 1867. A good map of roads and rail lines around East Allston/Brighton, showing the town line brook of Brookline.
* [ Old USGS Maps of Brookline area.] See 1903 west maps. Click (slowly and repeatedly) on bottom right of small map image for big map image if your MSIE resize is on.
* [ "1871 Atlas of Massachusetts".] by Wall & Gray. [ Map of Massachusetts.] [ Map of Middlesex County.]
* History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Compiled by Samuel Adams Drake, published 1879, [,M1 Volume1 page 278 Brighton,] by Rev. Frederic Whitney. Note Brighton was originally part of Middlesex County before joining Boston which is Suffolk County.

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