We were amazed at the blocks of elegant and elaborate 19th-century townhouses we saw, particularly in the Kensington and Chelsea neighborhoods of London. Many of these blocks surround private, gated gardens, or have a hidden garden behind them. They are almost uniformly kept in pristine condition, too. I rarely saw a building that needed restoration... or even its brass polished. (But at the same time, we didn't see scaffolding and constant repair work going on everywhere, as there is around here. I wonder how they do it. Fairies? Mary Poppins?)
Compared to London's lavishly ornamental townhouses, Back Bay has an almost Puritanical restraint. But now we can see where those 19th-century Brahmins got the idea. We always thought that Commonwealth Avenue, etc. was based on the Parisian, Haussmann model of wide boulevards and so on. But it was London all along:
This appears to be a single-family house. Look at the window boxes on three floors — with topiaries!
Turn a corner and find a castle.
These white-trimmed rowhouses turn the corner and continue down the other side of the block, all beautifully regular.