The SoWa district (South of Washington) is an area of Boston's South End famous for its art galleries, restaurants, shops and open markets. Centered around the artist studios located at 450-460 Harrison Ave, SoWa spans east-to-west from East Berkeley Street to Massachusetts Avenue, and north-to-south, from Washington Street to Albany Street.
GTI Properties and owner Mario Nicosia are credited with rejuvenating the district, beginning in the early 2000s, and also for coining the SoWa name. Their redevelopment of the massive factory buildings on Harrison Avenue has since drawn high-end restaurants, art galleries, retail stores and creative businesses to the growing neighborhood.
In the 19th century, SoWa's brick & beam factories were home to manufacturers of pianos, canned goods, shoes and other merchandise. In addition, 540 Harrison Ave, a building currently used to host various markets & events, originally opened in 1891 as the Central Power Station for the West End Street Railway Company, the precursor to the MBTA. The Romanesque and Gothic Revival structure was the world’s largest electrical power station at the time and later became a trolley barn.
Due to the number of artists & galleries located in the neighborhood, SoWa has become a creative epicenter, attracting a wide range of art-enthused fans. Every month, over 80 artists & galleries throughout SoWa stage their new 30-day shows featuring the works of emerging and established painters, photographers and sculptors. This event, known as "First Fridays", is held on the first Friday of every month starting at 5:00pm. In addition, the SoWa Art Walk (an annual art festival held each spring), draws thousands of visitors to the neighborhood.
The SoWa Open Market was created 10 years ago by New York transplant Chris Masci and his company NE Open Markets LLC. This collection of vibrant open air markets, brings over five thousand visitors to the SoWa District every Sunday. The SoWa Open Market, SoWa Farmers Market. SoWa Food Trucks run from May – Oct, while the SoWa Vintage Market run year-round indoors.
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