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The Boston waterfront has arrived

It feels like the newest, coolest, and most vibrant part of the city, pulsating with activity, suddenly crammed with tourists — and even longtime Boston residents.

Boston’s waterfront has exploded in the public consciousness. It feels like the newest, coolest, and most vibrant part of the city, pulsating with activity, suddenly crammed with tourists — and even longtime Boston residents — who marvel at newly discovered delights around every corner of its 47 miles.

 That’s right: 47 miles. The waterfront stretches from the southernmost tip of Dorchester through South Boston, to downtown, the North End, Charlestown, and finally to East Boston. Eighty-five percent of the shore is pedestrian-friendly, part of the groundbreaking public way known as the HarborWalk. New apartments and condos are popping up everywhere, notably in South Boston, but also, hopefully, East Boston. And the list of attractions along its course is staggering. There are the marquee names (the USS Constitution, the Aquarium, the soon-to-reopen Boston Tea Party Ships & Museum, the Children’s Museum, the Institute of Contemporary Art, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum), parks galore (including the launching point to one of the most stunning of them all, the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area), and myriad smaller amusements (tasting room of Harpoon Brewery, anyone?). And, of course, there are the retailers and restaurants that stretch its length, upscale and everyday, famous chefs and casual cooks. More are slated as eager businessmen and women, sensing money to be made, realize that the waterfront, no longer ignored and neglected, has arrived.

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