Boston has always been known as a city of neighborhoods, each with its own character. Even today, each neighborhood evokes a very distinctive identity—Beacon Hill retains a historic, if not aristocratic air; the North End is snug, Italian-flavored and packed with restaurants; Back Bay boasts a magnificent mélange of historic row houses, upscale shopping, top hotels and a swelling number of corporate headquarters. Yet the area of the city that offers a bit of everything that makes Boston, well, Boston, is Downtown. This is also the renaissance neighborhood, presently undergoing an astonishing transformation, and it is watched over and nurtured by Rosemarie Sansone, the dynamic president of the Downtown Boston Business Improvement District (BID). “If someone hasn’t been here for a long time, I think they’ll be completely amazed,” she declares.
Downtown has always been the heart of Boston, encompassing what is known as Downtown Crossing, as well as much of the Theatre District, the Financial District and the Ladder District. Visitors are attracted to its hotels, restaurants, colleges, high-end residences, banks, medical facilities and shopping, including the new Primark location, Macy’s, H&M, Marshalls and many more. The Millennium Tower, Boston’s tallest residential tower at 60 stories, is currently under construction. Downtown is the city within the city, connecting Beacon Hill to the waterfront and Chinatown to Faneuil Hall.
“We like to think we have it all!” Ms. Sansone says of Downtown Boston. First-time visitors will feel like they’re having it all if they meet one of the many BID Ambassadors. Identified by their bright orange shirts, ambassadors can be seen all over the area giving directions, answering questions, handing out maps and even watering the plants! With a bit of notice, they will also provide an escort to walk someone to a hard-to-find location or accompany a visitor back to their hotel or parking lot late at night. The Ambassador program is critical to Ms. Sansone’s vision for the district. You want “to make people feel welcome and comfortable,” she said. When asked what she hears from visitors, she has a ready answer. “I hear about the friendliness, and that there are many languages spoken and how the new residents and the college students have made it a 24-hour kind of place. There’s a mix of everything and a hubbub, an excitement and energy. I think they just like the vibe!”