City Stories

Boston: The Lost of Roxbury and more

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The Boston Ghetto Story:

The Lost of Roxbury and more

The days of being known as the Bloody Bean are of the past as the city of Boston is currently one of the most gentrified cities in the country as many of the city’s urban neighborhoods within the Boston ghetto are slowly changing.

Before many of the residents that once resided in the urban communities of the Boston ghetto were being relocated outside of Boston in the nearby towns of Taunton or Brockton, most lived in the South End, Roxbury, parts of Dorchester, and Mattapan.

Communities filled with public housing complexes and apartment buildings along the numerous of blocks within the ‘hoods of Boston helped the city to truly developed its own identity, an identity that represents “the Three”.

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Debatable about what “the Three” truly stands for, the city of Boston’s culture within its streets includes people referring themselves as Dogs or wearing Adidas on their feet, which can also symbolize “the Three”.

As times change, the internet and the media gave the newer generations of Boston a different view outside of Boston’s culture as the old culture is not a prominent amongst today’s youth with them copying other cities’ styles.

The name of the Bloody Bean can come from numerous places or numerous reasons, but before gentrification the streets of Boston did once have conflict as different neighborhoods would beef with each other, like Academy against Heath Street.

While gangs like the Bloods or the Gangster Disciples never had an impact on the city, there have been times that the conflict between the neighborhoods can seem gang related, but the city does not have gangs and the days of the Bloody Bean are a generation or two in the past.

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Boston Black History

After World War II, 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 African-American and Latinos, along with a few other ethnicities to move into three of Boston’s main 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 community or the South End district for the city’s African-American population.

The South End area was originally known as a low income and working-class area with a diverse population of Jewish, Europeans, African-Americans and West Indians, but 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 the minorities of African-Americans, West Indians, and Latinos live in numerous of communities in the Boston area, their main areas are Mattapan, Roxbury, and Dorchester.

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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 community is more historically known for Boston’s black history.

When the new wave of southern Afrian-Americans moved into Boston during the mid-1900s, the first place most arrived was Roxbury and would later expand down Blue Hill Ave into Mattapan, but not before parts of the community expanded towards east into Dorchester.

Many of these communities were once home to Jewish and European families, but as an influx of African-American arrivals came into the city and the neighborhoods that they once called home white flight led them to move further out of the city.

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.

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Boston’s Process of Gentrification

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

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

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Currently, 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.

As these once prominent African-American areas are changing, many are being forced to live in cities and small towns miles away from the actual city of Boston like Brockton, Taunton, or even as far as Fall River.

The end seems near to the days of Boston’s culture of “the Three” or when African-Americans and Latino’s could call places like the South End, Roxbury or sections of Dorchester home.

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Click to check out a Boston Documentary Video, Boston ‘Hoods Map and more.

*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.