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The North End is one of the most historic neighborhoods in the city, with a past that is as varied as the cannoli selection at Mike’s Pastry. Irish immigrants, many escaping the potato famine, landed initially in the North End. As the Irish migrated south of the city, Eastern Europeans and Italians flooded in like a wave of molasses.
Want to see what it's like on the ground in the North End? Take a Google Maps "street view" stroll through the North End!
The Italian culture permeates the North End today, as it is known first and foremost as the premier destination for fine Italian dining. You can’t walk 5 feet down Hanover Street without getting distracted by the smell of herbs and garlic, as you are surrounded by top rated restaurants at every turn. Enjoy a hearty meal, but make sure you save room for dessert, as the North End pastries are just as prevalent as pizza. Choose a side in the age-old debate over who’s cannoli is better, Modern Pastry or Mike’s. Later on, skip over to Salem Street to visit Bova’s, the only 24-hour bakery, to grab some late night snacks after a few Peronis.
Feeling full? Walk it off by taking in some of the historic sites, including Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church, and the Copp’s Hill Burial Ground. If you make your way to the end of the street, you can look out across to Charlestown to see the Bunker Hill Monument and the USS Constitution.
If people-watching isn’t entertainment enough, then head over to Improv Asylum to see some of the most hilarious sketch and improv comedy in the city. On a busy weekend night, it is common to see violinists or accordion players serenading the passersby, perhaps to set the mood for a romantic date, or to play loud enough that you will give them a few bucks just to take the tunes elsewhere.
If you are really lucky, you will be around for one of the famous Italian Festivals, particularly Saint Anthony’s Feast. Soak in the excitement of the crowd, the colorful parades, and the delectable street food vendors. For a more relaxing and peaceful time, head over to the Rose Kennedy Greenway at the base of the North End, or the Harborwalk, for some quiet reflection.
The North End is always an adventure, whether you travel there just for the night or call it your home. With so many places to explore, it is easy to get a taste for the Italian-influenced culture that covers the streets like a marinara sauce. There is always a new dish to try, a laugh to be had, and something to see during a North End excursion.