Back Bay - Midtown neighborhood notes

Staff Writer
Link Boston Homes

Rediscover the North End through the French Lens

Join guide Steven Galante from the French Cultural Center for a one-hour morning stroll on Saturday, Jan. 16 and discover French inspiration in the North End. Galante is looking forward to answering your questions.

The group will meet at Christopher Columbus Park at the back of Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel at 10:20 a.m. so the tour can begin at 10:30 a.m. sharp. Face coverings are mandatory.

This program is part of the series of tours en français.

Go to for more information and registration (Members - $12 | Non-members - $17).

Build It! (on Zoom)

Children, ages 5 through 12, and their families are invited to join the BPL’s Children’s’ Librarians from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 16 to tackle a monthly building challenge. The participants will use supplies found in their homes, principles of engineering and a lot of ingenuity.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

'High Brow, Low Brow: Phrenology, Fashion and Female Activism in the 19th Century'

Between the 1830s and 1860s, Americans began fighting over a curious topic: female foreheads. While feminists and phrenologists saw “high brows” as an alluring sign of intelligence in women, gender conservatives viewed them as a troubling assault on patriarchal hierarchies.

At first glance, the public battles over female foreheads might seem like frivolous exchanges over women’s appearances. In reality, they were not just political conflicts, but also scientific debates about the capacities of the female brain.

The History of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Seminar invites everyone to join the conversation from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Nadia Owusu with ‘Aftershocks: A Memoir’

When Nadia Osuwu moved to New York City at age 18, she had already lived in five countries outside the United States and her parents’ homelands of Ghana (her father’s) and Armenia (her mother’s family). She grew up disconnected, without a culture she called her own. In Aftershocks she shares her jarring story of being state-less and, ultimately, parent-less, as the survivor of trauma; she describes the heart and will it takes to pull though.

Learn about her life and enthralling memoir looking at race identity and immigration, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets and the push and pull of belonging in the United States from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19 - presented in partnership with GBH Forum Network.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Author Talk: ‘The Sword and the Shield’ (Malcolm X and MLK, Jr.)

To most Americans, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. represent contrasting ideals: self-defense vs. nonviolence, black power vs. civil rights, the sword vs. the shield. The struggle for Black freedom is wrought with the same contrasts. While nonviolent direct action is remembered as an unassailable part of American democracy, the movement's militancy is either vilified or erased outright.

In The Sword and the Shield, Peniel E. Joseph upends these misconceptions and reveals a nuanced portrait of two men who, despite markedly different backgrounds, inspired and pushed each other throughout their adult lives. This is a strikingly revisionist biography, not only of Malcolm and Martin, but also of the movement and era they came to define.

Visit for more information and registration for this virtual author talk slated from 6 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Book Tasters (on Zoom)

Looking for a new book, a recipe or just something to do?

Join Book Tasters from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

The group will talk books, then craft, play games and chat over Zoom. At the end of the session, participants will get a new recipe to try at home. Come for the book review, stay for the fun.

The group is aimed at Grades 4 through 6; Families welcome.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Teen book discussion: ‘March Book One’

Passionate about teen reads? Join a group of teen librarians from 3 to 4 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 to discuss the graphic novel March: Book One, written by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell.

The book is presented in the form of a graphic memoir of John Lewis's life, depicting his early life in a sharecropper family, his dream of becoming a minister and his early involvement with the civil rights movement, all set against his role in 2009 as a Congressman as Barack Obama was about to be sworn in as the United States President.

Teens are encouraged to join the conversation whether or not they’ve read the book.

Visit for more information and link to the Twitch channel to join (no registration required).

New York and London in the Gilded Age: Annual DiCamillo Companion Rendezvous

Perhaps no single person defines the Gilded Age more than Edith Wharton, the aristocratic American novelist who realistically captured this privileged late 19th-century world. For this special virtual presentation of their annual DiCamillo Rendezvous, they will look at the Gilded Age in America and England through Wharton’s perceptive lens.

Historian Carl Raymond will guide registrants through Wharton’s New York, after which Curt DiCamillo will take them on a tour of Gilded Age England, where Edith’s influence was keenly felt.

The story of the collapse of an old world and the birth of a new one is a tale of money, power, jealousy, grand houses, great art collections and a clash of cultures.

Join American Ancestors Research Center/New England Historic Genealogical Society for this richly illustrated historic romp through one of history’s most intriguing epochs from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Visit for more information and registration ($35).

Family Book Group: 'The Book Itch'

Join friends, family and fellow Yearlong Reading Challenge participants at the Boston Public Library from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 to discuss the January Community Read for families – The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.

The discussion will be moderated by a librarian and will take place on Zoom. Caregivers are also welcomed to participate.

People do not need to be participating in the Reading Together challenge in order to take part in this book group, but are urged to join. Learn about the different monthly challenges, get recommendations for books to read and find other ways to connect with the reading community on the website.

Go to for more information and registration.

Ciné-Club online discussion: ‘Girl’ (2018)

French Cultural Center will host the first ciné-club online discussion of the year from 6 to 6:40 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 at which time they will dive into the demanding world of ballerinas with Girl. Watch the movie at your leisure (available on Netflix). Discussion in French.

Follow the impressive journey of Lara, a 15-year-old girl who was born in a boy's body and is committed to becoming a professional ballerina. Becoming a ballerina requires determination, blood, sweat and tears, but for Lara, it is a passion she is not willing to give up on no matter what it takes.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration (free; donations welcome).

‘Introducing the Harriet Hayden Albums’

Join Theo Tyson, Polly Thayer Starr Fellow in American Art and Culture, from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21 as she shares her insights and inquiries on a set of 19th-century photo albums that belonged to Harriet Bell Hayden (1816-1893), a survivor of slavery and anti-slavery activist.

Married to famed abolitionist Lewis Hayden (1811-1889), Hayden’s albums are a unique opportunity to explore the racial, social and cultural history of Boston’s thriving Beacon Hill anti-slavery community.

Tyson will discuss the types of visual and material culture needed to create and sustain archival collections. She will address how institutions can accurately share the histories of African Americans, formerly enslaved Black people, and especially Black women.

Visit for more information and registration (Members and VESP holders: Free | Visitors: $5).

Revolutionary Weddings: Marriage in the Black Panther Party

Revolutionary love and marriages in the Black Panther Party were powerful aspects of Black Power politics. This paper argues that Panthers viewed Black romantic love as an act and a tool of revolution. They believed that if African Americans embraced love and marriage, defining it and its parameters in ways that best suited individuals and race, they could reclaim, reimagine and build strong Black families and communities, destabilize white supremacy and realize Black liberation.

The African American History Seminar invites everyone to join the conversation with Traci Parker, University of Massachusetts – Amherst and Robyn Spencer, CUNY - Lehman College from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 21.

Seminars bring together a diverse group of scholars and interested members of the public to workshop a pre-circulated paper.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

BB@YOURHOME 2020-2021 Season Series

Enjoy a night at the ballet wherever you are with BB@YOURHOME, a new virtual series featuring fresh creations, signature works and classical ballet gems captured live in-studio and streamed directly.

Their reimagined season showcases the creativity and innovation that defines Boston Ballet, pushes the boundaries of their artform and continues to provide world-class dance despite the current constraints.

Jan. 21-Jan 31: Look Back, Focus Forward

Take a virtual voyage of Boston Ballet’s history and artistic achievements, including outstanding international tours, the special relationship with Jiří Kylián’s repertoire, the intimate ballets from Leonid Yakobson, and many more.

Feb. 25-Mar. 7: Celebrating Jorma Elo

Celebrate the boldness and choreographic evolution of Jorma Elo’s work through his 15 years as Boston Ballet’s Resident Choreographer. Watch as a new cast of dancers takes on his mind-blowing hit Plan to B and be the first to experience his brand-new work for two dancers.

March 25-April 4: The Art of Classical Ballet

Open a treasure chest of pas de deux from classical ballet including a rarely-performed gems. Experience a curated look at the foundations of the artform and the leaps ballet has made since then.

April 15-April 25: Process & Progress

Enjoy innovative, never-before-seen dance by new, international choreographic voices Nanine Linning and Ken Ossola, plus a preview of ChoreograpHER.

Bring the Ballet home. With each subscription ($180/series), you support their dancers, fuel new art-making, and invest in Boston Ballet's future.

Go to for more information and tickets.

The Ghost Light Series

The Ghost Light Series, a live half-hour music program filmed to an empty Wang Theatre illuminated only by the Ghost Light, will feature Jay Psaros, Alice Howe and The Restless Age.

Watch the performance at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 22 on New England’s Connection Network (NECN).

All previously recorded episodes are available to enjoy as well.

Visit for more information.

Virtual Preservation Roadshow

Is your closet full of boxes of old family photographs? Is your basement bursting with letters, diaries, and other documents from your family history research? Do you have family memorabilia that you want to make sure is around for generations to come?

This virtual preservation roadshow will teach you best practices for surveying, handling and storing family materials and provides expert advice on how to care for items in your collection.

In addition to reviewing how-to videos, participants will be able to submit a photo(s) of one item from their collection and receive advice from archivists and conservator. Submitted items may include photographs, albums, scrapbooks, bound volumes, born-digital or obsolete media, textiles, certificates and other documents.

Access to recordings, handouts, guides and other materials will be available through April 30. A live broadcast will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, presented by experts at American Ancestors.

Visit for more information and registration ($85) for this online conference.

BB Mom’s Group

The Mom’s Group is being revived for Moms in the Back Bay to meet and connect. Their goal is to offer support and be a resource for local Moms. When possible, outdoor events will be planned.

For more information on joining, send an email to:

Barre en français

Exercise your body and your vocabulary. Join the French Cultural Center for a barre class that will help people to focus on strength, core stability, flexibility, muscle control, posture and breathing from the comfort of home.

French instructor Chloé Mizuta will guide participants in their practice from 9 to 10 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 25 via Zoom.

All levels of French and barre are welcome.

Visit for more information and reservations (Member - $7; Non-member - $10).

Facebook Live: Story and a Snack

Follow along with the Boston Public Library librarians as they share stories and show you how to cook up a delicious snack from 3:30 to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 26 at

Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them Online Book Group

The Fantastic Books and Where to Find Them Book Group at the Boston Public Library's Central Library is geared toward young adults in their 20s and 30s and meets every fourth Tuesday of the month from 6 to 7 p.m. on line. The group covers a wide variety of genres including historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, nonfiction, among others.

The Jan. 26 read will be The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro.

Visit for more information and registration.

Book Group for Adults on the Spectrum

A monthly online book discussion group for adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and related conditions or who identify as such will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on the fourth Tuesday of the month hosted by the Boston Public Library and the Asperger/Autism Network (AANE).

For Jan. 26 the group will discuss Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Visit for more information and the link to Zoom.

Taste of Israel 2021

Israeli food is so much more than hummus and falafel, and in 2019, JArts (Jewish Arts Collaborative) established Taste of Israel to celebrate this diverse cuisine. While there are a handful of Israeli restaurants already in Boston, Taste of Israel, which runs from Tuesday, Jan. 26 through Tuesday, Feb. 2, will feature restaurants from all culinary persuasions presenting their unique take on Israeli cuisine.

Each restaurant will create three-to-five special dishes that will be on the menu. Prices, hours and reservations will be set by the restaurant.

This year, particularly in light of the challenges the food industry is facing due to COVID-19, JArts is inviting all Boston-area food enthusiasts to support local restaurants while savoring the many flavors of Israeli food.

For a list of participating restaurants along with more information, visit

JArts Executive Director Laura Mandel shares thoughts on the restaurants at

‘Hatched: Breaking through the Silence’

The Esplanade Association will present “Hatched: Breaking through the Silence,” a four-week illumination and sound experience to provide a family-friendly and physically-distant celebration at the famed Hatch Memorial Shell in celebration of their 20th anniversary. “Hatched” will cut through the darkness of the winter months, offering a public space for joy and optimism in the New Year.

The work is an original 15-minute visual and sound performance led by Boston-based creative Maria Finkelmeier of MF Dynamics and is shaped specifically for the 80-year-old amphitheater itself.

Hatched is free and open to the public, taking place nightly from Friday, Jan. 22 through Sunday, Feb. 21. Viewers will be able to tune in to the original synchronized soundtrack on their personal devices while watching the illuminations. The work, made possible by collaborations with LuminArtz and projector sponsor Epson, will begin at 5 p.m. and re-start every 20 minutes until 9 p.m., offering more than 300 opportunities to enjoy the work in the open-air landscape of the historic Hatch Shell Oval Lawn. Masks and physical distancing mandated.

Visit to learn more about Hatched: Breaking through the Silence.

Virtual: CO|So’s New Members Show 2021

The Copley Society of Art features the 13 new members accepted into the gallery in 2020 showcasing a great diversity of artists’ backgrounds and media, including pastel, photography, oil and watercolor. The New Members Show will be on view through the gallery website at through Sunday, Feb. 14.

Artworks will also be featured through Co|So's social media platforms, Instagram and Twitter: @cosogallery and Facebook: "Copley Society of Art."

Community Read Book Group

Join friends, family and fellow Yearlong Reading Challenge participants at the Boston Public Library 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28 to discuss the January community read for adults – An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. The discussion will be moderated by a librarian and will take place on Zoom.

People do not need to be participating in the Reading Together challenge in order to take part in this book group, but are urged to join. Learn about the different monthly challenges, get recommendations for books to read and find other ways to connect with the reading community online.

Go to for more information and registration.


The Boston Street Railway Association, Inc. (BSRA) typically meets on the *first Saturday of the month at 7:30 p.m. with a short business meeting followed by an entertainment program. Everyone is welcome to attend this online gathering. This month, the group will meet on the second Saturday due to the holiday.

Feb. 6 – Boston Transit: A 20th Century Postcard History

Penny picture postcards were immensely popular in the early 1900s, and today those postcard views document what our city used to look like. Charlie Bahne will present a history of Boston transit, as seen from the medium of color postcards over the past hundred years with images taken from his own collection, the internet, and other sources.

The BSRA online store is open. A great selection of 2021 traction, transit and railroad calendars along with plenty of books and magazines, DVDs, home and accessories, vintage items and more are available for browsing and ordering.

Rollsign, a bi-monthly publication on New England transit news and history, is also available.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Give the gift of membership through January

Give the gift of membership to ensure that the beloved parks - the Boston Common, Public Garden and Commonwealth Avenue Mall - remain icons of Boston and continue to receive the protection, care and management that they need.

Donations can be made at

Monday Mettā

Join Rev. Kim at the Arlington Street Church at noon on Mondays for a half hour of loving kindness meditation. She will give brief instructions, and the group will join in sending loving kindness to ourselves and to the world. No meditation experience necessary.

Join with video at or participate by phone by dialing 929-436-2866. For either option, the meeting ID is always 895 886 6876.

New Parent Group (on Zoom)

Looking for a way to meet other parents with infants? Need support from experts while navigating new challenges? Have questions about childhood development, parenting and early literacy?

Join the Boston Public Library’s New Parent group on Zoom. The group will meet from 1 to 2 p.m. on (most) Tuesdays for an informal – and informative – program for families with infants, birth to 12 months.

Each week a guest speaker will talk about a variety of topics, including diapering, napping, feeding, early communication and general wellness for parents and infants. There will also be time before the guest speaker arrives so people can connect with other new parents and get early literacy recommendations from the librarians.

Visit for more information, including a weekly speaker/topic and registration.

The Buddhist book discussions and meditations

Buddha's Belly and Arlington Street Meditation Center (feel free to come to one or both) will meet via Zoom on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month.

6 p.m. Buddha's Belly: a book discussion group that explores a variety of books from Buddhist teachings. All are welcome.

7 p.m. Arlington Street Meditation Center: these gatherings include seated meditation, a brief reading from Buddhist teachings, and conversation. Beginners and experienced meditators from all traditions (or none!) are warmly welcome.

Visit for more information and links to attend.

Jackbox party gaming for teens on Twitch

A small team of the friendly Boston Public Library teen librarians will host wacky, irreverent

online party games from the Jackbox suite - all of which are designed to be played by large audiences from 3 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays using Twitch stream.

Kids in 6th through 12th grade are invited to join the fun, joke around in chat and even recommend the next game.

Visit for more information and registration.

A safe space for people of all colors

If you identify as a person of color, Old South Church (645 Boylston St.) invites you to a time of connecting, a moment of breath, a reprieve from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month. The group is open to people of all ages.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Tween Time (on Zoom)

Tweens, ages 8-12, are invited to join librarians for games and activities from 4 to 4:45 p.m. on Thursdays over Zoom. There will be something different every week and it’s a great way to hang out with kids your age.

Visit for more information and Zoom registration.

Virtual Jazz Coffee House

The Virtual Jazz Coffee House, featuring the Willie Sordillo Ensemble, will be live streamed from the Old South Church in Boston from 6 to 7 p.m. on Thursdays at

The Bach Cantata Series 2020 – 2021

The Orchestra and Chorus of Emmanuel Music, conducted by Artistic Director Ryan Turner, has returned to Emmanuel Church for the 2020-2021 Bach Cantata Series. As they were originally written for worship services, these cantatas are presented at the culmination of the 10 a.m. Sunday liturgy at Emmanuel Church, 15 Newbury St., where Emmanuel Music is the Ensemble-in-Residence. The series will be held through May 9.

Those aiming to hear just the cantatas are welcome to join at approximately 11 a.m., but both organizations encourage all to join at any time during the service with the motto that “the longer you are here, the more you will hear.”

The services are open to all with strict COVID-19 protocols in place.

The service including the Bach Cantata will be streamed live on Emmanuel Music's and Emmanuel Church's Facebook pages.

For more information, visit and/or

Future Readers Book Club and events

The Boston Public Library will host the Future Readers Club for children, ages five years and younger, and their caregivers, with a goal of reading 1,000 books together before the child begins kindergarten.

Register at to keep track of the books you read together and earn badges for your young milestones at

In addition, the BPL offers an assortment of programs as part of the Future Readers Club to engage children in stories, songs, finger play and crafts.

Visit for more information and registration to each event.

Genealogy for the next generation

Several free, easy-to-do fun activities that will keep kids entertained and get them thinking about their family history are available at

These exercises are designed to teach critical skills while encouraging kids to explore their personal connection to the past. Studies show that young people who know facts about their heritage have a stronger sense of self, which can help them perform better in school and life.

Big Sister mentoring

Since 1951, the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston continues to make and support one-to-one mentoring relationships between thousands of women and girls each year.

The Big Sister professional staff matches a girl between the ages of 7 and 15 with a woman who is at least 20 years old, based on shared preferences and interests and continues to provide award-winning (virtual) support and guidance to each Big Sister, Little Sister and Little Sister’s family.

To learn more about how to become a Big Sister or to enroll a girl to become a Little Sister, visit

Support the Esplanade Association

The Esplanade is the stretch of public green space that extends for three miles one way along the Boston shore of the Charles River from the Boston Museum of Science to the Boston University (BU) Bridge.

In addition to providing a beautiful natural landscape, the park is home to the iconic Hatch Memorial Shell, various historical monuments, recreational facilities and more than five miles of pathway for walking, running or biking.

Please consider making a donation to the Esplanade Association to help keep the green space thriving and the activities alive.

People’s support of Esplanade Association is more critical than ever before, especially since the annual Moonlight Gala was canceled and this event typically makes up 50 percent of their operating revenue. All donations are tax deductible and people can use any means to send their support, including Donor Advised Funds.

Visit for more information and links to donate.

Free ‘grab-and-go’ meals/food resource information

Boston Eats will continue to provide free nutritious breakfast and lunch to city kids and youth –

18 years of age and under. No ID or registration required.

Visit or phone 1-800-645-8333 for a list of meal locations and other information. A list of food pantries and soup kitchens is also included.

Visit for a list of current food pantries, food closets, food banks, soup kitchens, congregate meal locations, food boxes, vouchers, etc.

If you need additional food resources, contact Project Bread’s Food Source Hotline at 800-645-8333.

Boston Ballet

Enjoy a variety of behind-the-scenes videos, virtual choreography, performance clips, and articles on along with exclusive, ballet videos posted Mondays through Fridays at and/or

Support Boston Ballet at

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs need help

Common Cathedral and Boston Warm programs under the umbrella of Ecclesia Ministries at Emmanuel Church (15 Newbury St.) needs partners to help them serve the increasing number of homeless and underserved during this critical time.

There are three specific ways that you can help make a difference:

1) Donate supplies listed on their Amazon account.

2) Donate individually wrapped homemade or purchased sandwiches, soft fruits and granola bars.

3) Donate your time, your treasures (donations) and your prayers – they are always welcomed and valued.

Visit for other information, including links to keep this mission alive.

Friday Night Supper Program emergency appeal

The Friday Night Supper program (FNSP) at the Arlington Street Church – the longest running program in Boston – has served more than 13,000 meals a year to more than 130 guests from all over Boston since 1984.

Your donations make a difference in the lives of people in need, whether through philanthropic dollars or individual gifts of money, clothing, toiletries and gift cards. Help fill the gap with their Emergency Appeal so they can continue their mission.

Visit to make a donation.

Support Women’s Lunch Place

Women’s Lunch Place, 67 Newbury St. continues to serve women while maintaining all three of their core services areas – healthy meals, direct care and advocacy.

WLP is open every day from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and provides one take out package that contains a nutritious breakfast and lunch with extra snacks to sustain their guests.

Women’s Lunch Place needs donations – money, gift cards, toiletries, underwear and other basic necessities – to keep their mission going.

Visit for more information.

‘BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception’

From 17th century attempts to woo European settlers to the New World with maps that exaggerated natural resources, to a 2019 Sharpie-enhanced weather map designed to reshape the politics of disaster planning, maps and visual data have always been tools for manipulating reality.

In a wide-ranging, year-long initiative comprising exhibitions, programs and educational activities, “BENDING LINES: Maps and Data from Distortion to Deception” at the Boston Public Library’s Leventhal Map & Education Center (Copley Square), offers a critical look at how to understand the world as it appears in geographic representations.

The show features historical and contemporary documents and interactive displays designed to show visitors the power of persuasive mapmaking and will be on view through May 2021.

Visit for more information.

This postcard shows the "new" highway running along the Boston side of the Charles River as it was in the 1930s and '40s. That highway cost $200,000,000 to build. Today, people know it as Storrow Drive.