North End Knowledge

Most of us think of the North End as the most delicious place to carbo-load west of Italy. The Italians are well-known for their food and their vino, and CoupMe has put together quite the relaxing day in the North End for you, so you can make like an Italian with dinner at Davide or Riccardo’s Ristorante and a fabulous 75-minute massage at North End Bodyworks.

But after you’re both totally stuffed and totally relaxed, it’s time to discover the beauty of Boston’s North End–because aside from the food and the Italian flags, the North End has a history all its own. So try to see a little beyond the cannoli filling, and wow your date with our top historical spots and fun facts about this tiny Boston neighborhood with gigantic flavor.

  • It’s easy to walk around the neighborhood, which is Boston’s oldest residential community (established in 1630). The entire place is one-third of a square mile…but in it, there’s 100 eating establishments! You’re going to have to take a lot of North End laps to burn off all those calories.
  • We think of Italy when we think of the North End, but if you’d lived around Boston for a few hundred years or so, you might just think of the North End as an immigrant community. While it was first settled by wealthy residents, it later became a community of freed and escaped slaves. In the early 1800s, the North End was full of Irish immigrants. Notice Hebrew inscriptions on some of the buildings? A huge Jewish population once settled in the neighborhood as well. It wasn’t until about 100 years ago that the North End became the center of Boston’s Italian culture.
  • In 1919, the Boston Molasses Flood killed 21 people and injured 150 when a 50-foot tall tank that held two million gallons of molasses erupted. The hot molasses spread in waves throughout the North End, crushing homes and drowning people and countless horses. A plaque in remembrance of the event is down by the North End waterfront.
  • Head over to 44 Hull Street to see the Skinny House, Boston’s narrowest house. The four-story house is 10.4 feet wide at its widest point, and was apparently built as a spite house after one brother squandered another’s inheritance. (Check out the story here. And yes, people do live there, in what the Boston Globe has called “a vertical life.”
  • You can thank CoupMe’s amazing deals for the fact that you won’t have to imitate one of the world’s most famous crimes: The Great Brinks Robbery in 1950. It took place in the North End, and has been called “The Crime of the Century.” The 11-member gang eventually went to prison. $2.7 million was stolen in the ingenious plan, and only $58,000 has ever been recovered. The rest is rumored to be hidden in the hills near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.
  • If you’re Irish or into politics, check out the birthplace of Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy at 4 Garden Court. Her father was the Democratic boss of the North End and was eventually elected mayor in 1905.

How can you resist a fabulous checkered past like the North End’s? It’s almost as hard as resisting the pasta and seafood featured in today’s deals! And after you do your trek around the neighborhood, relax with a massage. Pretty sweet!

Let us know if you think we missed any of the North End’s historical or architectural high points in the comments below!

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