by Michael Manni
Photography by Michaela Johnston
More than simply making up Boston University's "backyard," the Fenway Neighborhood is a historically diverse and beautiful section of Boston. Formed in the 1870s as part of a deal to annex land from Brookline, Fenway is named after the main thoroughfare through the neighborhood called “the Fenway.” The Back Bay Fens park grounds were designed by Frederick Olmstead, a legendary landscape architect and designer of other urban parks, including the famous Central Park in New York City.
The Fenway Neighborhood is broken up into four distinct areas: West Fenway, East Fenway, Kenmore, and Audubon Circle. Two of these areas are very familiar to most students, with Kenmore being a major hub of activity for most BU students and the home of many popular sites such as Kenmore Square Station and the BU Bookstore, and Audubon Circle being where most South Campus residences at BU are situated.
West Fenway, an area just south of BU’s South Campus, has recently become an extremely busy and modern area, with large construction projects of glass and steel high rises being erected, and modern delights like Target coming in over the past year. The main hub of activity in this area is Boylston Street, which has many places for BU students to enjoy, including popular staples like Tasty Burger and Yard House.
Just a block south of Boylston is Peterborough Street, a brownstone-lined residential area that is charmingly quiet for being so close to the bustle of the modern construction to the north. On Peterborough there are amazing little restaurants, including Neighborhoods Coffee and Crepes, an excellent place to get crepes and pastries. Enjoy a “Sweet Simplicity” banana and Nutella crepe, and you might run into other students from the neighboring Simmons and Emmanuel colleges. The abutting restaurants El Pelon Taqueria and Thornton’s Fenway Bar and Grill are also area-favorites for their convenience and affordable prices.
Continuing eastbound a few blocks down Peterborough Street, you will see Olmstead’s quiet system of parks: the Back Bay Fens. Fenway residents use the Fens as a recreational area; it includes a relatively new playground, athletic fields and the beautiful Victory Gardens. The Victory Gardens are quite fascinating, and were actually constructed in the 1940s as a response to food-rationing during World War II.
The Gardens are split into individual plots that are privately owned by residents of the Fenway-Kenmore area, and vary greatly from intricately designed floral gardens with water features to simple vegetable gardens. The Fens is also home to ducks and geese during the warmer months, and you can even sometimes spot a swan in the Muddy River, which runs through the center of the park.
The Fens is a great alternative to the often crowded and loud BU Beach if you’re looking for a quiet study space outside in the spring. Enjoy an afternoon with a delicious crepe, exploring the gardens, feeding the ducks in the Muddy River and stopping at Target to pick up a few things (because who doesn’t love Target?).