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As you step off the MBTA’s B Line at Harvard Avenue, you’ll find yourself immersed in the world of Allston. Students gather at the inbound train platform to make their way to institutions of higher learning (after all, this is Boston’s Latin Quarter), while others scurry across the street to pick up some Russian culinary delights at the Berezka International Store. The veritable hum of the community might seem a bit chaotic to newcomers, but my guide to strolling Harvard Avenue will ensure that you’ll see some of the area’s many highlights. Trust me: You’ll be back.
Oh, Great Scott!
As you look over Commonwealth Avenue, you’ll see an august apartment building with a quiet looking club on the first floor. Hey, if the sun’s out, it’s probably quiet at the one and only Great Scott, which happens to be an anchor, a lodestone, and a fine outpost of live music of great variety. There’s music here seven nights a week, some of the shows are open to souls 18 and up, and tickets are very reasonably priced (usually no more than $15).
A Veritable Caravan of Books & Other Ephemera
Step down inside to the aptly named Bookistan, but just you wait: there’s more here than books, as you’ll immediately spy crates of LPs (Pixies, anyone?), curious bits of home decor, old watches, and historic prize ribbons hanging from the ceiling. In an era of increasingly bland bookstores (or hey, just no bookstores), Bookistan is a place you’ll want to wander around. The owner is very welcoming and willing to talk about his store and just about anything else.
Segments of Allston’s Past and Present, Barbershop Style
After you’ve collected your Bookistan purchases, walk a few feet north to Fast Eddie’s Barbership. Around the corner, you’ll find one of the many exuberant and wonderful murals that cover various walls throughout the Allston. This particular piece by artist Gregg Bernstein documents the history of Allston with black and white tones gliding gently into full-color offering up a brocade of streetcars, antique cars, storefronts, and more. Of course, there are many other murals you’ll want to check out, but this should pique your interest.
On a Board, Works of Art and More
As skateboarding and its many pleasures are embraced by a wider range of people, new stores have popped up around Boston. One such fave is the Orchard Skate Shop, which started life a few miles away in the Mission Hill neighborhood. Today, this stunning space is host to all manner of skateboarding items, including hats, t-shirts, accessories, and a lovely galaxy of boards. You’ll also want to check out their “Events” page, as it contains information about their upcoming demonstrations, pro signings, art shows, and video premieres.
Across Brighton Ave, Find Some Common Ground
At this point in your journey, you might very well be seeking a moment of rest, a drink, and perhaps some victuals. Why not stop by Common Ground Bar and Grill for such a trio? Located on the west side of the street, it’s a place where you might encounter a group of celebratory students, folks who’ve just called it quitting time, and locals arriving to take in a sporting contest on television for the evening. They have a range of Commonwealth beers on tap (including Jack’s Abby) and a delightful menu that includes an excellent spicy three bean burger and a range of daily specials. Personally, I wouldn’t miss their weekend brunch or their acoustic revue which happens on Sunday night.
TOPICS: Things to do in Allston