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Central Business District

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The Central Business District extends south and east from Boston Common (BH1) with Washington Street as its historic and current spine. The major shopping streets of the city are located here, mixed with key institutions and a palimpsest of earlier uses. Granite became the material of choice for public and commercial buildings in the early nineteenth century, giving greater monumentality to a city previously built of brick. The most dramatic moment in the history of this section of Boston occurred on November 9 and 10, 1872, when a burning holocaust consumed part of forty blocks of the commercial and nearby Financial District. Boston rebuilt quickly but conservatively from this disaster, the earlier street patterns being carefully maintained. With challenges from suburban malls and from boutique districts such as Newbury Street, the Washington Street corridor still attempts to serve the shopping needs of many Bostonians.

Writing Credits

Keith N. Morgan

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