Boston, MA


The Short Boston Ghetto Story

Known as the “Bloody Bean”, Boston is currently one of the most gentrified cities in the country with many of the city’s urban neighborhoods in the Boston ghetto slowly changing.

Before many of the residents of the Boston ghetto were relocating to the nearby towns of Taunton or Brockton, most lived in the South End, Roxbury, parts of Dorchester, and Mattapan.

boston ghetto

Warren Street in Roxbury

During the late 1940s and 1950s, many white families left their original neighborhoods for communities that were mainly outside of the Boston city limits or right on the border.

This allowed blacks and Latinos, and a few other ethnic groups, to move into the main three communities of Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan.


There are other areas of the city outside of those main communities, like East Boston, Jamaica Plain, and Chelsea for the city’s Latino population or the amount of African-Americans that were and somewhat still are in Boston’s South End district.

The South End area was originally known as a low income and/or working class area, with a diverse population of Jewish, Europeans, African-Americans, and West Indians.  Starting in the late 1940s and 1950s the city built a number of housing projects in the South End, which would change the community’s racial makeup.

While families of African-Americans, West Indians, and Latinos live in a number of communities in the Boston area, their main areas are Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester.

While the South End is one of the first locations that blacks lived at in Boston, home to Lenox, Castle Square, Cathedral and the old Tent City housing projects, the Roxbury area is more historically known for the black population in Boston.

boston ghetto

When the new wave of southern blacks moved into Boston during the mid-1900s, the first place most arrived at was Roxbury and then would later expand down Blue Hill Ave into Mattapan, but not before some of the community expanded towards the east into Dorchester, replacing the Jewish and European families that once called these communities their home.

By the 1970s, these areas were predominantly black communities with Roxbury being the heart of the city’s black community, together with Puerto Ricans and Dominicans beginning to move into the area.

Starting in the 1980s, the city began its new era of community rebuilding, known as gentrification.  This started with the demolishing of the old Columbia Point housing projects, near Harbor Point.

Before the city was gentrifying its current neighborhoods, the 1960s had Boston residents to experience urban renewal, especially in areas like the South End that led to the building of the Tent City housing complex.

boston ghetto

The Heath Street Projects in the Mission Hill area

Right now the main areas that are experiencing gentrification are in the communities that are in the areas of the colleges, tourist attractions, and business districts, like Mission Hill, the South End, and parts of Roxbury.


Check out more on the communities of the New England area.

*Note: All information is provided through people of the community, outside sources, and research. Some information might not be current and/or 100% accurate.

Boston History Source’s:
Bluestone, Barry, and Mary Huff Stevenson. The Boston Renaissance: Race, Space, and Economic Change in an American Metropolis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2000. Print.

Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Boston’s South End. Dover, NH: Arcadia, 1998. Print.

Sarna, Jonathan D., and Ellen Smith. The Jews of Boston: Essays on the Occasion of the Centenary (1895-1995) of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston. Boston: Philanthropies, 1995. Print.