Cultural Experience | Boston

A Hometown Within the Big City

Great University Neighborhoods: Boston University’s Brookline

By Madeline Rae, Boston University.

Aerosmith Concert in Brookline

Aerosmith Concert in Brookline

Boston is home to some of the cutest and most unique neighborhoods in the country. Half the fun of being a student in Boston is having that big city atmosphere while also being able to explore these small-town neighborhoods and get the different vibes emanating from each.  Let me tell you about the neighborhood I live in: Brookline. Close to Boston University’s campus, Brookline is a prime destination for BU students like myself to find a nice apartment off campus. That being said, it is still a residential area home to plenty of little kids and elderly people alike. It always felt like I was going home when every night at 9 p.m. I would pass the Dunkin’ Donuts where two old men – one always wearing a sweatshirt and the other always sporting a white t-shirt and red suspenders – would sit and discuss all the problems of the world with each other.

That familiarity of the little girl who walks her pet Yorkshire Terrier every afternoon after school, is what makes someplace ‘home.’ Even if you don’t call Brookline home, there is plenty to do here. As a student it is important to find good places to study. I recommend a little coffee shop called Tatte’s on Beacon Street. They have great shortbread cookies, one of the best cappuccinos I’ve ever had and provide a great atmosphere to sit and chat or buckle down on some serious study time.


If it’s a nice day, particularly in the fall when all the leaves are changing, parks are my favorite place to sit out, enjoy the fresh air and do some much needed reading. Emerson Gardens, by Davis Avenue and Emerson Street has some great trees shading some pretty comfy benches. There is also a massive playground there, so its perfect for kids too. You can also try Linden Park between Linden Place and Linden Street (confusing I know). To be honest, my favorite part about this park is the bench at the back entrance, which the town dedicated to “Alan J. Gagne (1952-2006), Linden Street’s beloved mailman.”

I’ve already mentioned the Dunkin’ Donuts, but let me assure you that this is a rarity in Brookline. The little village is known for its mom and pop stores and is notorious for not letting any chains build on Brookline property. There are so many cute little cafes, bookshops, yoga studios, pottery workshops and bakeries here. One of my favorite shops is Horai-San Book and Crystal Shop on Washington Street. You walk in and the smell of incense immediately fills your nostrils. You can’t help but feel at peace walking around looking at all the books, jewelry and artwork while a large Buddha fountain continues to bubble in the middle of the store.

Another unique fixture in Brookline is a pub called Matt Murphy’s on Harvard Street. This pub has no televisions – that’s right no TVs – so you are forced to interact with other people. They play soft music in the background so as not to detract from the deep conversations you have suddenly struck up with complete strangers and all of their food is homemade. In fact, Esquire magazine put their lamb sirloin in its rankings as Best Sandwiches in America. Matt Murphy’s stocks local liquor, such as vodka from Nantucket, and they ban all commercial soda, so don’t think you can get a Diet Coke in here.

You will truly never get bored discovering all the little wonders Brookline has to offer.


Madeline Rae

Boston University | 1 story

Madeline Rae is a junior studying journalism and cultural anthropology at Boston University. Originally from Los Angeles, CA, Madeline has adopted Boston as her home away from home and loves to get out and explore. She is currently studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland, learning how to be a true Irish native, but will soon return to her studies in Boston.

One response to “A Hometown Within the Big City”

  1. Mia says:

    Being a Brookline native… calling it a “village” might be a stretch. It’s actually a very large town that extends far beyond just Beacon Street and Harvard Street. And the “mom and pop” stores aren’t actually so “mom and pop” – most have multiple branches throughout Boston.

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