Copley Square

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Lewis Cohen's John Singleton Copley, with Copley Square, Trinity Church, and the John Hancock Tower behind him.

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.

The Boston Public Library's McKim Building, seen across Dartmouth St. from the Square.
Detail of 1888 map of Boston, showing Art Square and vicinity
The Museum of Fine Arts' original home (on the site of the present Copley Plaza Hotel).
Copley Square fountain, with Old South Church tower in distance


The Square is outstanding for the number and variety of important architectural works that have been built there, many of them official landmarks.[clarification needed][citation needed] Prominent structures still standing include:

Among buildings no longer standing are:


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.[3] 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,[4] 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.[5] A memorial celebrating the race's 100th running (in 1996) is located in the park, near the corner of Boylston and Dartmouth streets.[6]

2013 Boston Marathon bombings[edit]

On April 15, 2013, around 2:50 p.m. EDT, about three hours after the men's and women's winners crossed the line, two loud explosions were heard from Copley Square, 14 seconds apart, one near the finish line alongside the Boston Public Library, the other about a block farther west. Three people were killed and at least 183 reported injured, including at least 14 victims confirmed to have lost limbs.

Image gallery[edit]


  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. ^ 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
  4. ^ Template:Http://
  5. ^ Powers, John (April 16, 2010). "Evolution of the Boston Marathon finish line". Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 October 2012. 
  6. ^ Boston Marathon Memorial, Boston Art Commission, 100 Public Artworks, p. 3
  • 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.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°21′00″N 71°04′34″W / 42.350°N 71.076°W / 42.350; -71.076 (Copley Square, Boston)