Canal Street in Boston’s West End will go car-free for one day this summer

Canal Street and Causeway Street in Boston’s West End.
Pat Greenhouse/Globe Staff/File
Canal Street and Causeway Street in Boston’s West End.

Following the success of the inaugural “Open Newbury Street” event last year, city officials announced on Friday plans to close off Canal Street to vehicles for one day this summer, giving pedestrians the opportunity to walk freely about the neighborhood with no cars in sight.

On July 8, “Open Canal Street” will turn two blocks of the West End into an inviting space for people looking to explore an area of the city they typically might not visit unless there is a game or concert happening at nearby TD Garden.

“With the success and excitement that came from ‘Open Newbury,’ we are thrilled to expand this pilot,” Mayor Martin J. Walsh said in a statement. “I know businesses, residents, and visitors will come together to celebrate and enjoy this pedestrian-focused event, and I welcome all.”


Canal Street is sandwiched between Causeway and Market streets, and features a row of eateries and spots to stop and grab a drink.

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Jay Walsh, executive director of the Downtown North Association, a nonprofit organization that represents businesses and residents in the neighborhood, said details are still being ironed out for the event. But he hopes to flood Canal Street with entertainment and food options for visitors this summer.

“I think it will be a little bit of everything,” he said during a telephone interview. “We want to make sure that everybody benefits from it, and we have so much going on in the area because it’s so walkable — not only on Canal Street, but the other streets, too.”

TD Garden is hosting a country music festival that night, featuring musicians Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. The event on Canal Street may tie into the country theme, he said.

Jay Walsh said the idea to host Open Canal Street came about following a series of discussions with the city’s Transportation Department, which focused on ways to direct more pedestrian activity there.


“We hope this is the start of seeing a lot more activity like this in the community,” he said.

According to the mayor’s office, Canal Street is part of the Boston Planning and Development Agency’s North Station Area Mobility Plan, which aims to “develop near-term, multimodal transportation improvements in the areas immediately adjacent to North Station.”

The July event is an extension of last summer’s Open Newbury Street initiative, when on a warm August afternoon the city shut down the boutique shopping and dining area to cars and let pedestrians take over.

In May, the mayor’s office announced plans to bring back Open Newbury Street on one Sunday each month in July, August, and September.

“After hearing from businesses and visitors, a lot of people said, ‘This is great, and we want more of this,’ ” Sam Chambers, a spokesman for the city’s office of civic engagement, told the Globe earlier this month. “This is something both the mayor and businesses on Newbury Street really enjoyed, and we think this will be another success.”

Steve Annear can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.