Copley Square is one of Boston’s liveliest public spaces, hosting many events such as festivals, concerts, and farmers markets. Boston Book Festival is held here and in contiguous venues annually and the finish line of the Boston Marathon is nearby. Surrounded by some of the city’s finest architecture, it is framed by Boylston Street and St. James Avenue on the north and south, with Clarendon Street to the east and Dartmouth Street on the west.
Copley Square was originally called Art Square for the many cultural institutions here. The Boston Public Library, Trinity Church, and the "new" Old South Church remain. Others, including the Museum of Fine Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, Harvard Medical School, and Museum of Science (formerly the Boston Society of Natural History) have since relocated.
The square was renamed for Boston native John Singleton Copley in 1883. A prolific and internationally acclaimed painter of portraits and historical pieces, he is considered to be the most important painter of Colonial America. The memorial statue of Copley, the work of sculptor Lewis Cohen, was installed here in 2002.
For a fascinating read about Copley’s art, politics and personal life, consider picking up A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley. Written by Jane Kamensky, Professor of History at Harvard University, the book was the nonfiction award winner in the 17th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards.
Our tour will proceed in a clockwise fashion around the square, now heading in the direction of Trinity Church.