Due to Newton’s geographic size (18.6 sq. mi.) and population (~90,000), the city is too big to have just one center of activity.
Therefore, Newton is generally broken down into its original 13 villages: Auburndale, Chestnut Hill, Newton Centre, Newton Corner, Newton Highlands, Newton Lower Falls, Newton Upper Falls, Newtonville, Nonantum, Oak Hill, Thompsonville, Waban and West Newton.
Many home buyers are often confused when locals refer to each village. While it is true that each village has a distinct look and feel, in reality they are far more similar than different.
That being said, each village has unique characteristics that tell us about its past. You can read about them below.
Auburndale lays on the northwest corner of Newton. The village has a beautiful center with many local stores including The Knotty Pine, a diner with a dedicated following.
‘The Dale’ also has easy access to the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstate I-95/128. Of course, as with many of the northern communities in Newton, the Mass. Pike splits Auburndale in two. The North side has the village center while the south side includes the Auburndale Historic District.
Additionally, Auburndale students sometimes are placed in the Newton South High School (and the city’s two southern middle schools) district, making for a long car ride for students. Lasell University is also located in this village.
Still, Auburndale is one of Newtons most lively and respected villages, just ask anyone who walks their dog at The Cove, one of Newton’s most beautiful parks on the mighty Charles River.
Chestnut Hill is one of Newton’s most iconic villages. Chestnut Hill is actually a neighborhood that is partially located in Boston, Brookline and Newton. It is home to many celebrities, CEOs, doctors and highly respected professionals. Homes in this area tend to be very expensive and are placed on larger lots.
Perhaps the most well-known landmark in this village is Boston College (main campus), an ACC powerhouse that employs a sizable minority of Newton’s residents. The Chestnut Hill Reservoir, mostly located in Boston but partially surrounded by Newton land, is also cherished by walkers and professionals alike, who look to get in an early morning jog before or after work.
Newton Commonwealth Golf Course, a public use course, is located in this village and is popular with many residents of Metro Boston; as are The Shops at Chestnut Hill, one of Newton’s heavily utilized malls. Although the MBTA Green line does extend into Chestnut Hill, many of the area’s residents commute by car via the scenic Commonwealth Avenue or more straightforward Route 9, two major roads leading in and out of Boston. Chestnut Hill is probably Newton’s most well-known village.
Newton Centre is arguably Newton’s busiest village. Newton Centre has a lively “center” that is home to numerous shops, restaurants and even our very own Coldwell Banker Realty – Newton.
The MBTA Green line also offers a stop centrally located in the village center. The northern part of Newton Centre is also home to Boston College Law School and a few of the freshmen dorms.
However, the most iconic feature of Newton Centre is Crystal Lake (formerly known as Wiswall’s Pond or Baptist Pond in olden times), which attracts a large number of swimmers in the summertime. However, this does not go without conflict as many people tend to swim in areas of the lake that do not have lifeguard protection, often to the concern of neighbors and the local police department. In recent years, significant debate has occurred over improving the safety of Crystal Lake while balancing beachgoers interest in enjoying the area’s amenities.
Newton Corner is a commuter’s dream, with the Mass. Pike located right in the center of the village. However, the on and off entrances to the Mass. Pike make up a giant rotary around the Crowne Plaza Hotel and office buildings, and create frequent traffic backups often referred to as, “Niagara Falls,” “The Newton Supercollider” or “The Circle of Death,” by motorists. Simply put, a suboptimal traffic design coupled with frequent use by motorists, has led to the area becoming gridlocked during rush hour traffic.
Nonetheless, Newton Corner offers easy access to Boston, as well as Brighton’s Oak Square, a village in itself. As noted, Newton Corner is split by the Mass. Pike, like Auburndale, West Newton and Newtonville; but it is home to many great public facilities, such as Farlow Park, Newton’s equivalent to the Boston Public Garden.
Southwest of Newton Centre is Newton Highlands. With a MBTA Green Line stop, ‘the Highlands,’ is one of Newton’s most interesting villages. Stores on both sides of Lincoln street make the borough attractive to shoppers, but the village’s relatively few shops means that traffic is usually minimal.
Route 9 serves as a good commuting option for those going into Boston. Cold Spring Park, a large park with walking trails and sports fields, lays at the northern end of this village and is perhaps it’s best natural feature. Miles of walking trails often attract wildlife rarely seen in such a developed area.
Newton Highlands also is home to a Whole Foods, at the 4 corners crossing, at the intersection of Beacon and Walnut street. Many of the homes in Newton Highlands are only a short walk from Crystal Lake, mentioned above.
Newton Lower Falls
Newton Lower Falls is Newton’s only village that is located west of Interstate I-95/128. Although geographically cutoff from the rest of Newton, Lower Falls actually has a vibrant community life with many events taking place at the Lower Falls Community Center.
Due to the surrounding public golf course, many residents enjoy the quiet and almost country like atmosphere of the neighborhood. Woodland Golf Club is also nearby, and is a popular private club with Newton residents. Additionally, Lower Fall’s close vicinity to Wellesley, Natick and Interstate I-95/128 makes for a commuter’s dream, as well as nearby restaurants for a fun night out.
Newton Upper Falls
Located just south of Route 9, Upper Falls has a distinct feel. Most of its buildings are older and appear more rustic, but many of the businesses themselves are sleek and modern. The quaint feel is evidenced by many residents noted as living in Lower Falls on historic maps.
Perhaps Newton’s most iconic landmarks, Echo Bridge and Hemlock Gorge Reservation, are in this village. Together these two attractions are visited by people from all over the area. Upper Falls is a classic village in a charming city, something rare in the 21st century, where much original character has not withstood the test of time.
Newtonville is home to Newton North High School, a nearly 200 million dollar complex to educate half of the city’s high school age population. A new Cabot School, the village’s elementary school, has also recently been constructed.
The village is geographically cut in two by the Mass. Pike, with some of the village’s homes north of it and others south. A number of hotly contested new building projects are currently being developed in Newtonville’s village center, which has caused a strong rift between many residents in the area. Essentially, the village is in the process of being revitalized, or gentrified. Newtonville also has numerous shops including two supermarkets, a Whole Foods and a Star Market.
Perhaps Newton’s most “vibrant” village, Nonantum is located in the north-eastern part of the city, but is often at the center of attention. Nonantum has a number of yearly community events, including a parade and festival. An annual Christmas lights celebration also occurs here.
Nonantum homes are usually smaller and are on narrower lots than those in the other villages of Newton, resulting in slightly more modest housing prices. Nonantum also was the former home of Silver Lake, a name the village is sometimes referred to as, which was filled in more than a century ago.
However, Nonantum has a number of perks that other villages can only dream of: Its location makes commuting via Storrow Drive and the Mass. Pike a breeze, and being so close to Waltham and Watertown allows one to try new restaurants and visit various stores, all of which are no more than a short drive away.
Oak Hill is Newton’s southernmost village. Public transportation is limited in Oak Hill, but is countered by beautiful scenery and quiet surroundings.
Oak Hill Park lies at the southernmost tip of the Oak Hill village, and contains many ranch style homes, most of which were put up for returning veterans after World War II.
The village is home to a number of both public and private schools, as well as the Mount Ida Campus of UMass Amherst. Additionally, the Wells Ave office area is home to many local businesses. It’s workers often commute from all around Metro Boston. It is a very desirable village to live in.
Thompsonville is split by Route 9 in the center, but you would hardly notice you were in this village in the first place as it has no village center, nor any iconic attractions. Some assume that before Route 9 was established, Thompsonville had many shops on the street that Route 9 would one day become, and therefor little evidence of the village’s past remains. Although, this is only speculation and further research is needed.
That being said, Bowen Elementary School is located centrally in this village and most of its elementary-aged students attend it. Dudley Road, one of Newton’s most scenic roads, also is partly located in Thompsonville. Thompsonville is also near the shops on Route 9 in Chestnut Hill, making it a prime location for shopping.
Although all of Newtons villages’ geographic dividing lines are obscure and unpublished, Thompsonville is perhaps the most unclear. Simply put, Thompsonville is Newton’s most mysterious village. Little is known about its past.
Waban is often described as Newton’s most prestigious village and there are a number of benefits of living there.
A MBTA Green line stop located near the end of the line means that getting a seat when heading into Boston is usually guaranteed.
Brae Burn Country Club is nearby, as other numerous shops and the new Angier School. Waban is home to many expensive homes, some of which command multi-million dollar listing prices.
Like Newtonville, Auburndale and Newton Corner, West Newton is split in two by the Mass. Pike. The southern part of this village is generally referred to as West Newton Hill and is home to large lots and big homes, just like Chestnut Hill.
The northern part of the village consists of a city center, which has a shopping district, including a movie theatre, as well as a MBTA Commuter Rail stop. West Newton is also home to the Dolan Pond Conservation Area and a number of smaller parks. Additionally, West Newton touches part of Waltham, which with Moody Street and High Street contains many fine eateries and shops.
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