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Old 02-27-2011, 12:34 AM
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My creative writing class has been assigned the job of re-imagining a classic, and I've chosen to do The Great Gatsby set in Boston's neighborhoods. I've got most of it down, but some of my research still has me knotted up in a few places, particularly when it comes to West v. East Egg.

For West, I currently have Back Bay, as it seems to be more 'new money' - more extravagant, 'youthful' and bustling, and for East, I have Beacon Hill ('old money,' understated, quieter). Is one more affluent than the other? Many places have listed both as "one of the most expensive areas," but is there one that you'd suppose is more expensive than the other?

Does that sound correct? I've worked with a few guidebooks and some internet sources, but I figured it's best to ask some locals, too. Thank you!
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Old 02-27-2011, 06:44 PM
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The housing in both those neighborhoods is really unique. It really depends on the place.

One thing to note is that Beacon Hill can be divided into three neighborhoods; the top of the hill, the slope of the hill and the flat of the hill. Much of the top of the hill is not that elegant anymore. Suffolk University is an expansive presence. The "Flat of the Hill" is the wealthiest, it runs west of Charles Street. The slope is mixed. Also the south side that abuts the Boston Common and Public Garden is more wealthy than Cambridge Street side.

The Flat of the Hill also abuts the east side of Back Bay, which is also the most prestigious part of the Back Bay. The other end of the Back Bay, along Mass Ave is not as expensive. The cross streets of Back Bay are alphabetical. "A" Arlington abuts the Public Garden. "A" to "D" is the most expensive and desired. People will tell realtors "nothing past the 'C' block for example. While Back Bay gets cheaper heading towards Mass Ave, it becomes a frat row on the other side of Mass Ave. It changes quick.

So really that corner of the Public Garden, where Beacon Hill and Back Bay meet is the most posh. On Arlington, there is The Taj. The Park Plaza is down the street too. The Back Bay may seem younger because it has more hotels and bars, and Newbury Street and Boyleston Street; two iconic walking streets. Newbury is famous for its boutique shops and cafes. Boyslton has a bunch of bars. But I wouldnt call Back Bay younger than Beacon Hill. It just has more of a scene. Beacon Hill is quieter. There is a heart to Beacon Hill that many dont visit, even though its small. It does have its "own little world" vibe. Quaint, isolated. Back Bay has main drags... noisy, lots of traffic, people partying, milling and walking around.

Beacon Hill has an iconic street too, Charles Street. Charles is very quaint, toney, old school Boston. It has a bunch of antique shops and you are more likely to find old money Boston around Charles, and more tourists around Newbury. Also of note, Beacon Hill has Mass General (actually West End) but there is a strong presence of medical redsidents and health care professionals in Beacon Hill. Of course Beacon Hill has the state house, so there is a "politico" vibe to Beacon Hill. Salons pstronizing Scollay Square and 21st Amendment. Beacon Hill is really quaint old Boston. Two areas of note are Louisberg Square, where Sen John Kerry lives, and Acorn Street, which locals call the most photographed street in America.

Last edited by lukec; 02-27-2011 at 07:06 PM..
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Old 02-27-2011, 11:44 PM
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Interesting assignment, and an interesting idea to transpose Gatsby onto a Boston setting. I have a couple of questions:

First, is the time setting for the novel the present, or is it set back in the '20's like Gatsby?

My second question has to do with the physical setting for this piece, and how good a fit Back Bay and Beacon Hill would be as substitutes. It's been a while since I read Gatsby, but if I'm recalling correctly, the "Eggs" were on Long Island, some distance outside NYC, in an area of big country estates. Beacon Hill and Back Bay are right in the heart of Boston, and are both quite urban in character. Does this matter, or would it work better for you to have a setting out in the woodsy suburbs?
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