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Rowes Wharf in Boston

Rowes Wharf in Boston, USA

Arched entrance at the Rowes Wharf in Boston, Massachusetts

Do you want to go to Boston by sea? Well then, be prepared to pass through the venerable Gateway of Boston, in the mighty Rowes Wharf. If you are exploring the Boston harbour area, this is one area you must watch. Home to one of the most iconic sites, the Rowes Wharf was set up in the early 17th century and is famous as home to Boston’s earliest settlers. Previously called South Battery, this land was bought by John Rowe, a property developer and merchant. It was he who built the first Rowes Wharf, that extended a little into the Boston Harbor.

A look at the Rowes Wharf would make you stand face to face with history. Initially used for industrial water traffic, it was quite famous for a century. Then came the 1800s, and with it, modern technology. The Rowes Wharf was connected to the rest of the city by elevated train, railroad and ferry. But as all good things pass, these connections too, ceased to exist. And by the 20th century, the area became dilapidated and was rarely used anymore.

But like all great things rise after falling, the Rowes Wharf also, was no different. At present, this is a 5.38 acre site in the Seaport District of Boston. A 345,000 square feet building forms its centrepiece. This is what is so famously known as the Gateway of Boston. This is a relatively new structure that was completed in 1987. Housing a spacious 16 stories and standing at 182 feet, it also hosts important marine facilities, a hundred luxury condominiums, and of course, the 4-star Boston Harbor Hotel that consists of 230 rooms.

Stand in awe of this majestic building, as it commands your attention. As designer Adrian Smith fondly remembered, “the building is a steel deck and beam frame clad with a curtain wall of brick, granite and pre-cast concrete”. At the pinnacle of the building, proudly sits a copper-dome observatory. This is “the hot-spot” that offers you a panoramic view of the city. Magnificent arches erected on its courtyard will take your breath away. This courtyard in fact connects to the waterfront with a public square.

Do you like curious concerts? Well get ready to be blown away as this site is also home to a free floating stage that sees a lot of concerts and public performances round the year, specially during summer.

So you have never traversed Boston’s waterways? Well, then get ready to tick that off your list because the Rowes Wharf connects to some of the most fantabulous waterways of the city. Water taxis serve about 30 docks around the city; this also includes Logan Airport. You can also get hold of commuter boat and cruise services from the Rowes Wharf dock.

But wait, this is not all. A 27-acre park called Big Dig is also being constructed in the area. This will increase the already enormous Rowes Wharf area upon being completed.

Rowes Wharf Map

Location Map of Rowes Wharf

Location Map of Rowes Wharf

Facts about Rowes Wharf

  • The South Battery, built in the present area of the Rowes Wharf, was established in 1666. It had only one gunner assigned to it, to protect against invasions! When the Battery extended into the harbor in 1740, the number of guns increased to 35.
  • After exchanging hands quite a few times, the land ended up in the hands of merchant William Foster, who purchased it in May 1782 for about 6,266 pounds and 12 shillings.
  • An exquisite collection of Boston Harbor maps by Norman B. Leventhal is displayed at the Boston Harbor Hotel lobby. These 90 maps mark the trajectory of development and changes along the Boston waterfront extending up to the New England coast from seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. What’s more, this lobby is accessible to everyone.

Where is Rowes Wharf?

  • Located in the Financial District of downtown Boston, the Rowes Wharf is pretty accessible by bus, subway and of course, the ferry.
  • It is serviced by the South Station on the Red Line and the Aquarium T station on the Blue Line. From the latter however, you have to walk a bit till you pass Harbor Towers.Paid parking is available in the Boston Harbor Hotel.
  • If you want to feel the cool water breeze though, you can take the F1 commuter ferry right from the Hingham Shipyard, Hingham and land straight at the Rowes Wharf.
  • The area is also serviced by several buses, although you might have to walk a bit. Buses 4, 6 and 7 from the MBTA Route will take you to the Moakley Courthouse. Then you cross over Fort Point Channel via Old Northern Avenue Bridge to the Wharf. Alternatively, buses 448, 449 and 459 from MBTA Route will take you to South Station. From there, you can walk North along Atlantic Avenue till you reach the destination.

Best time to visit Rowes Wharf

As it is located near the river, Rowes Wharf is pleasant for most parts of the year. January and February are chilly while July and August are warm. April to June (when you can enjoy the summer concerts) and September to mid-November are very pleasant and a great time to visit Boston.

More about Rowes Wharf

Nearby Attractions: Boston Harbor, Boston Harbor Hotel, Harbor Towers, previously known as India Wharf, Fan Pier Park, New England Aquarium

Related: Boston Location | Boston City Map 


Published On: Saturday, February 22nd, 2014