Pedestrians walk up and down Boston's Newbury Street during a 2021 Open Newbury event. Photo courtesy of the city of Boston

Boston’s biggest shopping street will be closed to cars every Sunday from Aug. 21 through the end of September in a dramatic expansion of the city’s hitherto three-days-a-year “Open Newbury” tradition, Mayor Michelle Wu announced Friday morning.

“The Back Bay Association is enthusiastic about an expanded Open Newbury Street,” Meg Mainzer-Cohen, executive director of the influential Back Bay Association, said in a statement provided by Wu’s office. “We look forward to hearing from Newbury Street businesses about how the increased pedestrian days impact customers and businesses on Boston’s iconic retail corridor.”

On most weekends, Newbury Street’s narrow sidewalks are bursting at the seams with pedestrians while most cars on the street inch by, slowed by double-parked delivery trucks and the large volume of pedestrians crossing from one side of the street to the other as they walk from shop to shop. During the summer, many parking spaces have been converted into outdoor dining patios by the restaurants and cafes that line the avenue.

The expanded Open Newbury schedule means pedestrians will have the rule of the street between Berkeley Street and Massachusetts Avenue from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Aug. 21, Aug. 28, Sept. 4, Sept. 11, Sept. 18 and Sept. 24. Parking will also be restricted on Newbury Street and select adjacent streets, with enforcement beginning at 5 a.m. Signs will be posted informing drivers of the change, Wu’s office said.

In announcing the six pedestrian-only Sundays, Wu’s administration said it believes the street closures will actually boost foot traffic and shopping.

“We are excited to increase the number of Open Newbury days through the summer and fall for more residents to enjoy,” Jascha Franklin-Hodge, Boston’s chief of streets, said. “More car-free open streets events for shopping, walking, cycling and active transportation helps us realize our vision of making Boston’s streets work better for everyone.”

And in a statement, Wu herself noted that by expanding the Open Newbury events into the fall, it would also draw in the region’s college students as they return from summer break..

Many local businesses appear to buy the argument, as well.

“In my nearly five decades of operating a business on Newbury Street, I have believed that creating a pedestrian space would effectively add to the sense of community and welcome to all,” Bernie Pucker, owner of Pucker Gallery at 240 Newbury St., said in a statement. “After visiting many cities with such spaces and feeling the positive energy and sense of joy, it’s a gift to see the same style of car-free environment expand in our area.”

Open Newbury began under former Mayor Marty Walsh in 2016 as a one-day event in August, and was expanded to three Sundays each summer in 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021.

“The expanded Open Newbury Street programming sounds great, especially with so many restaurants having street level patios,” Ellen Fitzgerald, co-owner of Mother Juice at 291 Newbury St., said in a statement “We’ve definitely noticed an uptick in foot traffic during Open Newbury in the past. The more, the better!”


Boston’s Newbury Street Will Close to Cars Weekly

by James Sanna time to read: 2 min