Elfland – Somerville, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Elfland

A tiny town in an empty lot was the work of a local eight-year-old. 

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Sorry, Elfland is permanently closed.

Located northwest of Boston, Somerville, Massachusetts, has experienced a lot of change in recent years. A vibrant arts and music scene, proximity to many universities, and the presence of MBTA rail stops have made it a desirable suburb. This has led to many older buildings near desirable locations, such as Davis Square and Union Square, being knocked down to make way for condos.

At the intersection of Summer and School streets, near Union Square, there was an abandoned gas station. The lot was cleared and fenced off, but when new construction went in, the vacuum was filled, by Elfland, the idea of a local, anonymous eight-year-old.

The boy and his family started adding elf- and Boston-themed models, which grew into a tiny elf town. Other people started contributing, and now Elfland is a beloved local landmark. Developers have their eyes on the Elfland location, of course, threatening Elfland’s existence. And so the Somerville planning board met to discuss the issue late in 2021. Concerns were expressed about the fate of Elfland, as well as ideas about keeping it or relocating it. The potential developers “are hoping to honor ‘Elfland’ as a community art installation in some way.”

Know Before You Go

Elfland is at the intersection of Summer and School streets. There is an entrance that is occasionally open on School Street, but if not, you can see the whole thing through the fence, on Summer Street.


It should be possible to find parking on nearby streets.

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