Copley Square

Lewis Cohen's John Singleton Copley, with Copley Square, Trinity Church, and the John Hancock Tower behind him.
The Boston Public Library's McKim Building, seen across Dartmouth St. from the Square.
Copley Square fountain, with Old South Church tower in distance

Copley Square, named for painter John Singleton Copley, is a public square in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, bounded by Boylston Street, Clarendon Street, St. James Avenue, and Dartmouth Street. It is a pending Boston Landmark.


The Square has a number and variety of important architectural works that have been built there, many of them official landmarks. Prominent structures still standing include:

Among buildings no longer standing are:


Detail of 1888 map, showing Art Square and vicinity

A remarkable number of important Boston educational and cultural institutions were originally located adjacent to (or very near) Copley Square, reflecting 19th-century Boston's aspirations for it as a center of culture and progress.[5] These include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard Medical School, the New England Museum of Natural History (today's Museum of Science), Trinity Church, the New Old South Church, the Boston Public Library, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Massachusetts Normal Art School (today's Massachusetts College of Art), the Horace Mann School for the Deaf, Boston University, Emerson College and Northeastern University.

Known as Art Square until 1883,[6] Copley Square was originally cut diagonally by Huntington Avenue; it took its present form in 1966 when Huntington Avenue was truncated at the corner of Dartmouth Street, the Square partially paved, and a pyramidal fountain sculpture added. In 1991, after further changes including a new fountain, the new Copley Square Park was dedicated. The nonprofit Friends of Copley Square raises funds for care of the square's plantings, fountain, and monuments.

The Boston Marathon has finished at Copley Square since 1986.[7] A memorial celebrating the race's 100th running (in 1996) is located in the park, near the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth streets.[8]

2013 Boston Marathon bombings

On April 15, 2013, around 2:50 p.m. (about three hours after the first runners crossed the line) two bombs explodedone near the finish line near the Boston Public Library, the other some seconds later and one block west. Three people were killed and at least 183 injured, at least 14 of whom lost limbs.


Copley is served by several forms of public transportation:

And major roads:



  1. Mary Melvin Petronella, ed., Victorian Boston Today: Twelve Walking Tours (Northeastern University Press, 2004), 69, available onlime, access September 9, 2012
  2. Robert Campbell and Peter Vanderwarker. Coming into Copley. Boston Globe. Mar 26, 2006. p. BGM 16.
  3. "Chicago Man's Reputation". Boston Evening Transcript. Feb 3, 1900. p. 7. Retrieved 4 May 2015.
  4. Shand Tucci, Douglass (1978). Built in Boston (First ed.). New York: New York Graphic Society. p. 102. ISBN 0821207415.
  5. Douglass Shand-Tucci, The Gods of Copley Square, lecture series, 2009, sponsored by Back Bay Historical/Boston-centric Global Studies and the New England Historical Genealogical Society
  6. Powers, John (April 16, 2010). "Evolution of the Boston Marathon finish line". Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 October 2012.
  7. Boston Marathon Memorial, Boston Art Commission, 100 Public Artworks, p. 3

Further reading

  • Aldrich, Megan. Gothic Revival. Phaidon Press Ltd: 1994. ISBN 0-7148-2886-6.
  • Bunting, Bainbridge. Houses of Boston's Back Bay: An Architectural History, 1840-1917. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press: 1967. ISBN 0-674-40901-9.
  • Forbes, Esther, and Arthur Griffin. The Boston Book. Houghton Mifflin Company: 1947.
  • Holtz Kay, Jane. Lost Boston. Houghton Mifflin: 1999. ISBN 0-395-96610-8.
  • Shand-Tucci, Douglass. "The Gods of Copley Square: Dawn of the Modern American Experience, 1865-1915",, 2009.
  • Shand-Tucci, Douglass. "Built in Boston, City and Suburb, 1800-2000". Little, Brown. (Third edition) 1999.
  • Shand-Tucci, Douglass. "Renaissance Rome and Emersonian Boston: Michelangelo and Sargent, between Triumph and Doubt", Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2002, 995-1008.
  • "Greetings from Boston: Vintage Postcards", Exhibitions, Boston Public Library, 2010  |chapter= ignored (help)
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Coordinates: 42°21′00″N 71°04′34″W / 42.350°N 71.076°W / 42.350; -71.076 (Copley Square, Boston)

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