There are many entrances to the Blackstone Block, but the most rewarding for the historically minded walker is Scott Alley, at 22 North Street. Scott Alley is a narrow, enclosed alley tucked ingloriously between a Dunkin’ Donuts and a hair salon. As you reach the end of the alley and emerge into daylight, you will step into Creek Square. Immediately on your left is an interesting 19th-century building at 1 Creek Square.
Creek Square got its name from Mill Creek, which was dug between the Town Cove and the Mill Pond, beginning in 1643. As you face east, the creek would have been in front of you, running along where Blackstone Street is now located. The land directly in front of you (Creek Square) would have been marsh land.
That began to change in 1652, when Joshua Scottow bought this land from William Franklin. By 1654, Scottow had excavated the marsh land to create Scottow’s Dock. “Dock” here is used in the 17th-century sense, meaning a navigable harbor. The dock connected to Mill Creek and from there to the Town Cove. This dock became an important area for maritime commerce, with wharves and warehouses built along it in the late century. By the early 18th century, however, it had been filled in, as the city’s shoreline steadily migrated east.
Here more than anywhere else in Boston, you can peer north up the narrow cobblestone streets and imagine what the original colonial city, with its narrow alley and winding, irregular street patterns looked and felt like.