One View of North End Living

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Returning from travel, I am always glad when my plane touches down at Logan. I have loved living in the North End these past 30 years. I have known why from the start but the 70 inches of snow in the last two weeks, with much more on the way, has driven the point home to me yet again. I don’t need a car when I step outside my front door. I know my neighbors and they know me. When you see someone on the street you know, you stop, say hello, and pass a pleasant moment. When you shop, it is with merchants you know. Shopping here, as in many European cities, is often done on a daily basis and in a neighborhood where you live. This makes shopping more a social event like visiting a friend. You can’t achieve the same experience in suburbia when restricted to a car and your shopping is done at a mall or in a box store.

Everything we could possibly need, including emergency medical services, is present within the North End. We are not limited in our shopping selections as there are multiple bakeries, butcher shops, tailors, wine merchants, barbers, cleaners, convenience stores, hardware stores, salumerias, panetterias, fresh seafood and sushi offerings, chic clothing stores, banks, and two very cool, high end, custom hat and accessory stores. One has a variety of options to select from within a particular shopping category.

We have a store dedicated to green grocer items, fresh herbs, along with fresh fruit and pasta. Another store caters to spice needs, nuts, tea, coffee, dried herbs and candies. We have a choice of pharmacies but are even more fortunate to have one which is not a chain store and has been family operated for many years. A pillar in our community, this pharmacy enjoys the support and trust of the entire community.

We have local craftsmen who can service all condo, apartment or building construction or repair needs. They will put on a new roof for you or repair the door latch leading to the roof. This is a small community where a service reputation is valued so performance tends to be good.

We have churches that remain open during the day. Two Catholic churches are open all or a good portion of the day and a third offers daily morning services. The Old North Church is open daily as a historic building but it is also an active Episcopal parish where people are welcome to enter and pray. If you would like to visit a church, you will find one available in the North End.

The North End Branch of the Boston Public Library is very popular with the young mothers and their children as well as the senior crowd. However, their programs reach out to the entire community. You can always stop by the local fire station and say hello. They are great with kids who have never seen a fire engine up close and personal. Our local parks are superlative. They are well supported by volunteer groups and function as great respites for North End residents and visitors all year long.

With the winter we are having, take a moment and reflect on how lucky we are to live in such a great neighborhood. It is within Tom Brady’s football throwing range to the heart of downtown Boston, one of America’s most loved and walk friendly cities. We have it all! Rejoice in that thought during these next blizzards. We have the MBTA (most of the time) so park the car and leave it until spring.

James Ring is a former FBI agent and longtime resident of Boston’s North End. He is also author of the book “Necessary Assets,” an inspired fictional story of an Al Qaeda terror plot that brings forth an unusual alliance between a modernized Sicilian Mafia and a retired FBI agent who lives in the North End. Jim blogs regularly at

6 Replies to “One View of North End Living

  1. So fortunate that my ancestors had foresight and chose to rehab and remain in this — the oldest and most unique city neighborhood in America. It is nice that it continues to evolve and be rediscovered.

  2. Thank You Mr. Ring~~~I am glad you see the quality in our neighborhood as we have for 100s of years ! Your article is so well written and from your heart~~~that it is a pleasure to welcome people like yourself to come and enjoy our homestead. Unfortunately there are the other types of people that only come here to USE and ABUSE our town!! I choose to focus on the heartfelt folks like yourself ! Thank You for the reminder.

  3. Dear Jim,
    Thank you for your article. You have mirrored my sentiments perfectly. I have been trying to explain to my friends from far and near, who have expressed concern both by e-mail and Facebook, as to why I’m so happy to be situated where I am in Boston. They will understand when I post this. It’s the first time in my very long life, I’ve felt safe and have friends nearby who are concerned for each others well-being.
    The North End/Waterfront area is THE most unique community in Boston to live in.

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