The North End, also known as “Little Italy,” is the oldest neighborhood in the city of Boston. Each year, the activities and venues in this historic 1/3-mile neighborhood attract visitors from around the world who come to experience a unique ambiance and delight in the many authentic restaurants and cafes, unique shops, tourist attractions, and popular Italian feasts.
The North End was established and settled by English Puritans in the 1630′s and would soon become the center for many immigrants in the 19th century. The first immigrant population was the Irish, followed by the Germans, Russians, Polish Jews, and then some Portuguese. It was then the settlement of the Italian immigration population in the 1880s that would establish itself for decades as the center for the Italian community of Boston. Some interesting numbers to consider: the Jewish community realized a peak population of approximately 17,000 (visitors can still find Hebrew writings on many buildings); the Irish peaked at approximately 14,000; and the Italian community realized a peak population of 44,000! The North End comprises both commercial establishments and residences. In fact, it is where many of the nearby Haymarket Square vendors live. An interesting note is that the well-established Prince Pasta and Pastene Corporation both had their origins in the North End.
North End history doesn’t stop there. It was considered the birthplace of the American Revolution and was referred to as “the Cradle of Liberty” by some of Boston’s notable Patriots including Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and many others. It is also the neighborhood’s Old North Church from where the famous signal lanterns hung, prompting Paul Revere’s historic ride. Decades later, in 1919, the North End would also be the site of the Boston Molasses Disaster.
It is no doubt that visitors to Boston’s North End will discover an eclectic architectural ambiance from all eras of American history ranging from the late 1800s to the early 1900s. Some significant landmark structures in the neighborhood include the Paul Revere House, Pierce-Hichborn House, and the Cough House. One of America’s oldest cemeteries, Copp’s Hill Burying ground with graves dating back to the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries is also nearby. And, Boston’s narrowest house, the Skinny House, can be found across from the burying ground.