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Boston : Allston-Brighton
Revision as of 17:58, 26 March 2004 by Christopher S. Penn (talk | contribs) (Added TC, beefed up safety.)
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Allston-Brighton, Massachusetts is a part of the city of Boston, though it has alternated annexation over the years. First founded in 1646, Allston-Brighton was known as Little Cambridge for the better part of the 18th century. In 1807, Allston-Brighton separated from the City of Cambridge. For nearly a century, Allston-Brighton thrived as a meat-packing and slaughter town; in 1874, the City of Boston annexed Allston-Brighton.

Today, Allston-Brighton is known as the student village, owing to the enormous number of college students and recent graduates that live in the area. Boston University and Boston College bookend Allston-Brighton.

For more general history, visit the Allston-Brighton Historical Society.

Get in & around

By car

Travelling to Allston-Brighton by car is generally a bad idea and a means of transportation to be avoided if at all possible. Parking is difficult, extremely limited, and ticketing is very aggressive. Allston-Brighton can be reached via I-90 (Exit 20), as well as State Routes 20 and 30. One of the main thoroughfares in Allston-Brighton is Commonwealth Avenue, State Route 30.

Be sure to use SmarTraveler to check on road conditions before driving, especially during rush hour.

By train

The MBTA buses and Green Line LRV run through Allston-Brighton on Commonwealth Avenue and Brighton Avenue.

By plane

The nearest airport is Logan International Airport in Boston, which is now a scant 10 minute drive down the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) from Allston-Brighton.



Things to do in Allston largely include just walking about and enjoying the area. There's a lot of little boutiques, some interesting crowds, and a relatively easy-going atmosphere.


Need supplies for magic or just new age stuff? Visit Ritual Arts, on Harvard Avenue. 153 Harvard Avenue, Allston. The former store O has been incorporated into Ritual Arts, and offers exotic gifts for women.


Allston-Brighton has some of the best ethnic restaurants in the metro Boston area, bar none. Brazilian, Vietnamese, and Middle Eastern dominate, and the bars aren't half bad either, but more on that later. The best indicator of the local restaurants' quality are the patrons - if you want good Vietnamese, follow the Vietnamese crowd.

  • Pho Pasteur, 137 Brighton Avenue. Home of some of the best Vietnamese around. Their spring rolls are to die for.
  • Cafe Brazil, 201 Brighton Avenue (near the OscoDrug). An amazing buffet of Brazilian and South American foods.
  • Daiwa/Seatopia, at the intersection of Harvard Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue, offers very good sushi at moderate prices. It's a great family-owned business.
  • Tapeo, 1600 Commonwealth Avenue, offers tapas, small, appetizer-sized dishes that you order in groups as a meal. A tasty, fun way to enjoy multiple dishes from Spanish cuisine.
  • Tokyo City, 92 Harvard Avenue, offers inexpensive, good quality sushi and Japanese food.


Allston-Brighton is the student village of the area, and naturally you would expect bars. Lots of bars. You'd not be incorrect. As of 2003, there is no smoking in any restaurant or bar in the metro Boston area.

  • The Sunset Bar and Grill. With the exception of some bar in DC, the Sunset has the largest selection of beer in the country. 130 beers on tap, more than 300 bottled varieties. Get your free beer card at the door - then sample 20 different beers, and you get a t-shirt. There are bar stools with nametags on them. The honored ones sampled every beer the Sunset has.
  • Big City. Combination bar and pool hall, served by the Sunset. Exceptionally nice.
  • The Silhouette Lounge. If you are looking for the kind of bar that Archie Bunker would visit, this is it. The ceiling tiles are gray with age and dirt, the jukebox is broken, and the patrons are way past college age.


Oddly enough, for a college-burg, Allston-Brighton has few hotels. You'll probably need to venture into Boston or Cambridge for accommodation. For less expensive hotels, try Natick or Framingham, west of the city. Be aware that as a college town, any area hotels fill up quickly in early September and around graduation-- book well in advance.

  • Days Hotel Boston, 1234 Soldiers Field Road Boston, MA 02135. T: 1-800-359-4827. Note the name is Days Hotel, not Inn-- this can certainly cause confusion when getting directions. This hotel has gone through several incarnations and seen lots of wear. While not convenient for walking to popular destinations, there is plenty of parking and a large supermarket across Western Ave.

Staying Safe

Allston-Brighton has a large college student population, so criminals of opportunity - burglars, pickpockets, petty thieves - tend to visit Allston-Brighton in droves. Peak seasons for them are any time students are moving in and out - May and September. Allston-Brighton also has its fair share of very aggressive panhandlers and drunks - and not just the students.

Late at night, it's a good idea to travel in groups until you know the area. Even then, travelling in groups is not a bad idea. Allston-Brighton has reasonably good mobile phone coverage outside of buildings, so calling for help is relatively straightforward. However, due to recent budget cuts by the Boston Police Department, response times to 911 calls are significantly lower, in some cases 15-30 minutes for police or ambulance response.

Allston-Brighton also has one of the best martial arts schools in America, though you'd never be able to tell based on the building's appearance. The Boston Martial Arts Center, located at 161 Harvard Avenue, offers self defense classes six days a week. For those moving into the area or planning to stay awhile, it's a good idea to take a few.

External links