From Symphony to Brigham Circle

Walk in Boston # 16, from Symphony to Brigham Circle, is a 3 miles self-guided tour in East Fenway then Longwood.

You’ll explore the universities, galleries and museums of this part of the city.

It will take you about 2 hours, much more if you decide to do some of the visits suggested on your way.

You’ll often be off the beaten path.

Highlights: Northeastern University, Kentzman Quadrangle, Ell Hall, gallery 360, Curry Center, ISEC, Ruggles, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, Museum of Fine Art, Isabella Steward Gardner Museum, Quad Lawn, Gordon Hall, Warren Anatomical Museum, Brigham & Women’s Hospital.

T.stop: Symphony (start) and Brigham Circle end), green lines.

Car: never a good idea in Boston but if you insist, use a parking app to reserve a spot somewhere along the way and start where you are but you’ll have to come back there and it could double your walking time.

Good to know: Not many restrooms on your way unless you enter museums or universities. Same for places to sit. As for food,  most options are near Symphony Hall or Brigham Circle.


A: Once out of Symphony T. station, walk along Symphony Hall to find St Stephen St. on your left.

It’s a tree-lined street with four-decks red brick apartments. Many of them host Northeastern University students or University annexes.

B: At Opera Pl., turn left, go through Huntington Ave to get to Kentzman Quadrangle.

In front of you, Ell Hall; climb its stairs and once inside, turn right; gallery 360 is a bit further with works by students, teachers or international artists.

Keep going inside the building to get to Curry Center, the heart of student life at Northeastern: it hosts a library, a cafeteria, many work stations and a open space with bold architecture. Under you, underground passageways to avoid snow and cold in winter.

C: Find an exit on the right (there are many of them depending of where you went): from there, don’t trust the map. Instead, follow Curry Center on the left, then turn left.

You’ll see some sculptures and, above a mural (see photo above), a pedestrian pathway to Columbus Ave.

It will lead you to a parking (hence the impossibility to mark the way on the map) whose exit will be on Columbus Ave. Follow the colorful pathway inside the parking toward this exit.

At Columbus Ave, turn right. The ISEC Center will be a bit further on your right.

It’s a marvel of architecture favoring flux and movement. Enter its 1st floor to admire its staircase and, here too, its open spaces.

D: Then, keep going on Columbus Ave until you see the Ruggles Station on your right. Take the stairs to enter its hall.

Here, a series of panels tells you the story of the neighborhood.

At the other end, you’ll be at Centennial Common, a large plaza with colorful benches and chairs. Students train to walk on a wire, play balls or socialize on the lawn.

E: Once again, don’t trust the map but cross this plaza on your right; then turn right along older buildings.

Northeastern University bought an industrial complex in the 1960s to expand and accommodate its 25,000 students: you see here what’s left of this complex, remodeled as dorms or research centers.

Pass some other sculptures et murals, then go to the left toward West Village Quadran, another university housing complex.

Finally, exit on Rugles St.

F: You are now in front of an imposing Greek Orthodox Cathedral – which can sometimes be visited, and a bit further on the right, the Wentworth Institute of Technology, another university with approximately 4500 students.

Take Parker St. on the side of the church then turn right past an architecturally bold glass and metal building, the Center for Engineering, Innovation and Science.

On the ground floor, an open space exhibits the work of students or teachers.

A little further on your left, you’ll find the library and on the 2nd floor (take the elevator), another gallery that often shows technical creations in 3D.

On your right, the old part of the University, the buildings donated by his founder, Wentworth. To visit it, find its entrance on Ruggles St.

Otherwise, keep going toward Huntington Ave.

The Museum of Fine Arts will be nearly in front of you, on the right.

If you decide to visit it, it’s the 4th largest museum of the USA with 450 000 artworks to be discovered. It could well be the end of your walk!

If you continue straight ahead, you will reach another large Boston museum, the Isabella Steward Gardner. It houses the private collection of this patroness of the arts. It is also famous for its interior garden and architecture inspired by a Venetian palace. Its visit will require at least two hours and could also be this end of this tour.

Otherwise, take Huntington Ave on your left; go to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design on your right.

Once you reach a small park on your right, enter the building. You’ll find there its 2 main contemporary art galleries, free and always interesting. You’ll also see that the school is a kind of labyrinth connecting 6 buildings of different eras and styles.

H: Once out, keep a little further on Huntington Ave.; then, take Longwood Ave. on your right.

This time, you are in front of two medical universities, Harvard Medical School on one side and the Mass College of Pharmacy and Health Science on the other. Students in white coats are working behind windows facing the street.

Enter the MCPHS hall: behind its modern façade, another one much older and on the walls, unusual medical paintings.

I: Once at Pasteur Ave, turn left on Quad Lawn; at its end, you can see the imposing Gordon Hall.

Now, if you want to walk more, turn right instead: you’ll be a little after point B of Walk In Boston # 17, from Longwood to West Fenway.

Otherwise, if you like anatomy and skeletons, the Warren Anatomical Museum is on the right of Gordon Hall, on the 5th floor at 10 Shattuck St.

Its treasure is the Phineas Cage skull and its incredible story.

J: Then, behind Gordon Hall, you’ll find an old part of Brigham & Women’s Hospital with two nice spiral staircases in front of its façade.

Enter the building, cross it and emerge not far from Huntington Ave. Or walk on the left of it.

Your final destination, the Brigham Circle T. Station, will then be in front of you.

To see more photos of Boston or read a blog with articles about unusual sights in or around Boston, go to Citywalks.space.

But before you go, don’t forget your guide and see how to thank him at the bottom of the page. Then enjoy the rest of your day!


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