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|Neighborhood of Boston|
|Incorporated||June 1, 1630|
|Annexed by Boston||January 4, 1870|
|• Total||91,982 or 134,000|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|Zip Codes||02121, 02122, 02124, 02125|
|Area code(s)||617 / 857|
|Neighborhood of Boston|
|Incorporated||June 1, 1630|
|Annexed by Boston||January 4, 1870|
|• Total||91,982 or 134,000|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|Zip Codes||02121, 02122, 02124, 02125|
|Area code(s)||617 / 857|
Dorchester is a historic neighborhood of over six square miles in Boston, Massachusetts, United States. The town was founded by Puritans who emigrated from Dorchester, England in 1630. This dissolved municipality, Boston's largest neighborhood by far, is often divided by city planners in order to create two planning areas roughly equivalent in size and population to other Boston neighborhoods. It is named after the town of Dorchester in the English county of Dorset, from which Puritans emigrated on the ship Mary and John, among others and is today sometimes nicknamed "Dot" by its residents. Dorchester, now covering a geographic area approximately equivalent to the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded a few months before the city of Boston in 1630. It was still a primarily rural town and had a population of 12,000 when it was annexed to Boston in 1870. Railroad and streetcar lines brought rapid growth, increasing the population to 150,000 by 1920. In the 2010 Census the population was 92,115, although the city's previously mentioned artificial planning boundaries make the neighborhood's population size difficult to assess - it is likely closer to 120,000. Dorchester as a separate municipality would rank among the top five Massachusetts cities. It has a very diverse mix of Eastern Europeans, African Americans, European Americans, Irish American immigration, Caribbean Americans, Latinos, and East and Southeast Asian Americans. Recently, there has been an influx of young professionals, gay people, and working artists to the neighborhood, adding to its diversity.
May 30, 1630, Captain Squib of the ship Mary and John entered Boston Harbor and on June 17, 1630, landed a boat with eight men on the Dorchester shore, at what was then a narrow peninsula known as Mattapan or Mattaponnock, and today is known as Columbia Point (more popularly since 1984 as Harbor Point). Those aboard the ship who founded the town included William Phelps, Roger Ludlowe, John Mason, Samuel Maverick, Nicholas Upsall, Capt. Roger Fyler, Henry Wolcott and other men who would become prominent in the founding of a new nation. The original settlement founded in 1630 was at what is now the intersection of Columbia Road and Massachusetts Avenue. (Even though Dorchester was annexed over 100 years ago into the city of Boston, this founding is still celebrated every year on Dorchester Day, which includes festivities and a parade down Dorchester Avenue).
Most of the early Dorchester settlers came from the West Country of England, and some from Dorchester, Dorset, where the Rev. John White was chief proponent of a Puritan settlement in the New World. (Rev. John White has been referred to as the unheralded champion of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, because despite his heroic efforts on its behalf, he remained in England and never emigrated to the Colony he championed.) The town that was founded was centered around the First Parish Church of Dorchester, which still exists as the Unitarian-Universalist church on Meetinghouse Hill and is the oldest religious organization in present-day Boston.
On October 8, 1633, the first Town Meeting in America was held in Dorchester. Today, each October 8 is celebrated as Town Meeting Day in Massachusetts. Dorchester is the birthplace of the first public elementary school in America, the Mather School, established in 1639. The school still stands as the oldest elementary school in America.
The oldest surviving home in the city of Boston, the James Blake House, is located at Edward Everett Square, which is the historic intersection of Columbia Road, Boston Street, and Massachusetts Avenue, a few blocks from the Dorchester Historical Society. The Blake House was constructed in 1661, as was confirmed by dendrochronology in 2007.
In 1695, a party was dispatched to found the town of Dorchester, South Carolina, which would last barely a half-century before being abandoned.
In 1765, chocolate was first introduced in the United States when Irish chocolate maker John Hannon (or alternatively spelled "Hannan" in some sources) imported beans from the West Indies and refined them in Dorchester, working with Dr. James Baker, an American physician and investor. They soon after opened America's first chocolate mill and factory in the Lower Mills section of Dorchester. The Walter Baker Chocolate Factory, part of Walter Baker & Company, operated until 1965.:627
Before the American Revolution, "The Sons of Liberty met in August 1769 at the Lemuel Robinson Tavern, which stood on the east side of the upper road (Washington St.) near the present Fuller Street. Lemuel Robinson was a representative of the town during the Revolution and was appointed a colonel in the Revolutionary army." Dorchester (in a part of what is now South Boston) was also the site of the Battle of Dorchester Heights in 1776, which eventually resulted in the British evacuating Boston.
In Victorian times, Dorchester became a popular country retreat for Boston elite, and developed into a bedroom community, easily accessible to the city—a streetcar suburb. The mother and grandparents of John F. Kennedy lived in the Ashmont Hill neighborhood while John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was mayor of Boston.
The American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, wrote a poem called "The Dorchester Giant" in 1830, and referred to the special kind of stone, "Roxbury puddingstone", also quarried in Dorchester, which was used to build churches in the Boston area, most notably the Central Congregational Church (later called the Church of the Covenant) in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood.:116
In 1845, the Old Colony Railroad ran through the area and connected Boston and Plymouth, Massachusetts. The station was originally called Crescent Avenue or Crescent Avenue Depot as an Old Colony Railroad station, then called Columbia until December 1, 1982, and then again changed to JFK/UMASS. It is a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority rail line station for both the subway and commuter rail line.
In the 1880s, the calf pasture on Columbia Point was used as a Boston sewer line and pumping station. This large pumping station still stands and in its time was a model for treating sewage and helping to promote cleaner and healthier urban living conditions. It pumped waste to a remote treatment facility on Moon Island in Boston Harbor, and served as a model for other systems worldwide. This system remained in active use and was the Boston Sewer system's headworks, handling all of the city's sewage, until 1968 when a new treatment facility was built on Deer Island. The pumping station is also architecturally significant as a Richardsonian Romanesque designed by the then Boston city architect, George Clough. It is also the only remaining 19th century building on Columbia Point and is in the National Register of Historic Places.
Dorchester was annexed by Boston in pieces beginning on March 6, 1804 and ending with complete annexation to the city of Boston after a plebiscite was held in Boston and Dorchester on June 22, 1869. As a result, Dorchester officially became part of Boston on January 3, 1870. This is also the historic reason that Dorchester Heights is today considered part of South Boston, not modern-day Dorchester, since it was part of the cession of Dorchester to Boston in 1804. Additional parts of Dorchester were ceded to Quincy (in 1792, 1814, 1819, and 1855) and portions of the original town of Dorchester became the separate towns of Hyde Park (1868 and later annexed to Boston in 1912), Milton (1662), and Stoughton (1726).
In 1895, Frederick Law Olmsted, architect of the Boston Public Garden/Emerald Necklace and Central Park, was commissioned to create Dorchester Park, to be an urban forest for the residents of a growing Dorchester.
In 1904, the Dorchester Historical Society incorporated "Dorchester Day" which commemorated the settlement of Dorchester in 1630. An annual event, Dorchester Day is a tableau of community events, highlighted by such activities as the Landing Day Observance, the Dorchester Day Parade along Dorchester Avenue the first Sunday in June, and as a grand finale, the Community Banquet.
There was also increased social activism in Dorchester during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Dorchester became home to the first racially integrated neighborhood on Jones Hill. One of the residents of that neighborhood, William Monroe Trotter, with W.E.B. DuBois, helped to found the Niagara Movement, the precursor of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Many leading suffragettes also lived in Dorchester, including Lucy Stone.
In the early 20th century, Dorchester also saw a large influx of new immigrants from origins such as Ireland, French Canada, Poland, Italy, and migrant African Americans from the south. This is the era when the trademark Dorchester triple decker apartment buildings were built.
In the early 1950s, Dorchester was also a center of civil rights activism. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived there for much of the time he attended Boston University for his PhD. "With Boston’s Baptist community riveted by his preaching and Coretta [Scott King] at his side, King’s circle grew. The Dorchester apartment drew friends and followers like a magnet, according to [friend and roommate John] Bustamante, with 'untold numbers of visitors coming from the other schools.' The roommates housed and fed the visitors, who would join in civil rights discussions."
During the 1950s-1980s, the ethnic landscape of Dorchester changed dramatically. Up until the 1950s, the Blue Hill Avenue part of Dorchester from Roxbury to Mattapan was primarily composed of Jewish Americans who had lived there for generations. The Neponset neighborhood was primarily Irish-American. During the 1950s-1960s, many African-Americans moved from the South to the North during the Great Migration and settled on Blue Hill Avenue and nearby sections. While some Jewish-Americans were moving "up and out" to the suburbs, certain Boston banks and real estate companies developed a blockbusting plan for the area. The Blue Hill Avenue area was "redlined" so that only the newly arriving African-Americans would receive mortgages for housing in that section. "White flight" was prevalent.
The first community health center in the United States was the Columbia Point Health Center in Dorchester. It was opened in December 1965 and served mostly the massive Columbia Point public housing complex adjoining it. It was founded by two medical doctors, Jack Geiger who had been on the faculty of Harvard University then later at Tufts University and Count Gibson from Tufts University. Geiger had previously studied the first community health centers and the principles of Community Oriented Primary Care with Sidney Kark and colleagues while serving as a medical student in rural Natal, South Africa. The Columbia Point Health Center is still in operation and was rededicated in 1990 as the Geiger-Gibson Community Health Center.
In 1977, after an unsuccessful bid to have the John F. Kennedy Library in Cambridge, Massachusetts close to Harvard University, ground was broken at the tip of Columbia Point for the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, designed by the architect I. M. Pei, and dedicated on October 20, 1979.
By the 1980s, the Blue Hill Ave. section of Dorchester had become a predominately black community. Numerous burned out buildings existed on Blue Hill Ave. During the 1990s, the city administration increased police presence and invested city money into the area for more street lighting.
In the last half of the 20th century, Dorchester had another wave of immigrants, this time from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Vietnam, Cape Verde, as well as other Latin American, Asian, and African nations. While there was still a large number of new immigrants from traditional countries of origin, such as Ireland and Poland. This made Dorchester more diverse than at any point in its long history, and home to more people from more countries than ever before. These immigrants helped revive economically many areas of the neighborhood by opening ethnic stores and restaurants.
Dorchester is located south of downtown Boston and is surrounded by the neighborhoods of South Boston, Roxbury, Mattapan, South End, and the city of Quincy and town of Milton. The Neponset River separates Dorchester from Quincy and Milton. According to the U.S. Postal Service, Dorchester includes the zip codes 02121, 02122, 02124, and 02125.
Dorchester is Boston's largest and most populous neighborhood and comprises many smaller sections and squares. Due to its size of about six square miles, it is often divided for statistical purposes in North and South Dorchester. North Dorchester includes the portion north of Quincy Street, East Street and Freeport Street. The main business district in this part of Dorchester is Uphams Corner, at the intersection of Dudley Street and Columbia Road. South Dorchester is bordered to the east by Dorchester Bay and to the south by the Neponset River. The main business districts in this part of Dorchester are Fields Corner, at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street, and Codman Square, at the intersection of Washington Street and Talbot Avenue.
Dorchester Avenue is the major neighborhood spine, running in a south-north line through all of Dorchester from Lower Mills to downtown Boston. The southern part of Dorchester is primarily a residential area, with established neighborhoods still defined by parishes, and occupied by families for generations. The northern part of Dorchester is more urban, with a greater amount of apartment housing and industrial parks. South Bay Center and Newmarket industrial area are major sources of employment and the Harbor Point area (formerly known as Columbia Point) is home of several large employers, including the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Archives, and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Distinct commercial districts include Bowdoin/Geneva, Fields Corner, Codman Square, Peabody Square, Adams Village and Lower Mills. Primarily residential areas include Savin Hill, Jones Hill, Four Corners, Franklin Field, Franklin Hill, Ashmont, Meeting House Hill, Neponset, Popes Hill and Port Norfolk.
As of 2010 the population of Dorchester was 92,115 and the ethnic makeup was 37% African American or Black, 28% White non-Hispanic, 14% Hispanic or Latino, 12% Asian or Pacific Islander, 0% Native American, 5% some other race, 4% two or more races.
The sections of Dorchester have distinct ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic compositions. The eastern areas of Dorchester (especially between Adams Street and Dorchester Bay) are primarily ethnic European and Asian, with a large population of Irish Americans and Vietnamese Americans, while the residents of the western, central and parts of the southern sections of the neighborhood are predominantly African Americans. In Neponset, the southeast corner of the neighborhood, as well as parts of Savin Hill in the north and Cedar Grove in the south, Irish Americans maintain the most visible identity. In the northern section of Dorchester and southwestern section of South Boston is the Polish Triangle, where recent Polish immigrants are residents. Savin Hill, as well as Fields Corner, have large Vietnamese American populations. Uphams Corner contains a Cape Verdean American community, the largest concentration of people of Cape Verdean origin within Boston city limits. Western, central and parts of southern Dorchester have a large Caribbean population (especially people from Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago). They are most heavily represented in the Codman Square, Franklin Field and the Ashmont area, although there are also significant numbers in Four Corners and Fields Corner. Significant numbers of African Americans live in the Harbor Point, Uphams Corner, Fields Corner, Four Corners and Franklin Field areas. In recent years Dorchester has also seen an influx of young residents, gay men and women, and working artists (in areas like Lower Mills, Ashmont Hill/Peabody Square, and Savin Hill).
The neighborhood is served by five stations on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Red Line (MBTA) rapid transit service, five stations on the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line, five stations on the Fairmount Commuter Rail Line, 3 of which have opened within the last year (Newmarket, Four Corners & Talbot Ave) and various bus routes. Over the last decade, the Dorchester branch of the red line had major renovations, including four rapid transit stations being rebuilt at Savin Hill, Fields Corner, Shawmut, and Ashmont. At Ashmont station, the city of Boston and the state of Massachusetts partnered with private investors to create The Carruth, one of the state's first Transit-oriented developments (TOD).
Interstate 93 (which is also Route 3 and U.S. 1) runs north-south through Dorchester between Quincy, Massachusetts and downtown Boston, providing access to the eastern edge of Dorchester at Columbia Road, Morrissey Boulevard (northbound only), Neponset Circle (southbound only), and Granite Avenue (with additional southbound on-ramps at Freeport Street and from Morrissey Blvd at Neponset). Several other state routes traverse the neighborhood, e.g., Route 203, Gallivan Boulevard and Morton Street, and Route 28, Blue Hill Avenue (so named because it leads out of the city to the Blue Hills Reservation). The Neponset River separates Dorchester from Quincy and Milton. The "Dorchester Turnpike" (now "Dorchester Avenue") stretches from Fort Point Channel (now in South Boston) to Lower Mills, and once boasted a horse-drawn streetcar.
A number of the earliest streets in Dorchester have changed names several times through the centuries, meaning that some names have come and gone. Leavitt Place, for instance, named for one of Dorchester's earliest settlers, eventually became Brook Court and then Brook Avenue Place. Gallivan Boulevard was once Codman Street and Brookvale Street was once Brook Street. Morrissey Boulevard was once Old Colony Parkway.
Throughout its history, Dorchester has had periods of economic revival and recession. In the 1960s and 1970s, Dorchester was particularly hard hit by economic recession, high unemployment, and white flight.
In 1953, a major public housing project was completed on the Columbia Point peninsula of Dorchester. There were 1,502 units in the development on 50 acres (200,000 m2) of land. It was later known for high rates of crime and poor living conditions, and it went through particularly bad times in the 1970s and 80s. By 1988, there were only 350 families living there. In 1984, the City of Boston gave control of it to a private developer, Corcoran-Mullins-Jennison, who redeveloped the property into a residential mixed-income community called Harbor Point Apartments which was opened in 1988 and completed by 1990. It was the first federal housing project to be converted to private, mixed-income housing in the USA. Harbor Point has won much acclaim for this transformation, including awards from the Urban Land Institute, the FIABCI Award for International Excellence, and the Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.
During the housing crisis of 2008 in the United States, Dorchester's Hendry Street became the epicenter in the media In reaction, the city of Boston negotiated to buy several of the houses for as little as $30,000. It is moving to seize other foreclosed properties on which the owners have not paid taxes. The houses were renovated and added to the inventory of subsidized rental housing.
In 2008, plans and proposals were unveiled and presented to public community hearings by the Corcoran-Jennison Company to redevelop the 30-acre (120,000 m2) Bayside Exposition Center site on the Columbia Point peninsula into a mixed use village of storefronts and residences, called "Bayside on the Point". However, in 2009, the Bayside Expo Center property was lost in a foreclosure on Corcoran-Jennison to a Florida-based real estate firm, LNR/CMAT, who bought it. Soon after, the University of Massachusetts Boston bought the property from them to build future campus facilities.
The corporate headquarters of the Boston Globe is also located in Dorchester. In 2009, the New York Times, current owner, put the paper up for bid, leading to concern from local community members, who had seen other major employers close their doors. After negotiations with their union and cost reduction measures, the New York Times abandoned its plan to sell the Boston Globe in October 2009.
In the 20th century, many of the labor unions in Boston relocated their headquarters to Dorchester. This includes the Boston Teachers Union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, New England Regional Council of Carpenters, International Association of Fire Fighters Local 718, among others.
Dorchester, with a population of approximately 130,000, is home to nearly one quarter of all Boston residents. In early 1990's Dorchester, along with Roxbury and Mattapan neighborhoods had the highest percentage of victims with violence-related injuries. Since early 2000's crime rates across Boston declined. Compared with the same time period in 2012, in the first three months of 2013 crime rates in Boston reportedly dropped 15 percent. According to Dorchester Reporter crime maps, the more dangerous areas in Dorchester are located to the west of Columbia Road with criminal activity centered around Blue Hill Avenue area. Safer parts of the neighborhood include Savin Hill, Columbia Point, which is populated by mostly UMass students, Ashmont Hill, Cedar Grove/Lower Mills area, around the Neponset, Gallivan and Morrissey Boulevard areas, and the Jones Hill neighborhood, with the third largest percentage of same-sex households in Boston after the South End and Jamaica Plain
Dorchester High School predated the annexation of Dorchester to Boston. At its founding, it was an all male school, first opened on December 10, 1852. In 1870 Dorchester was annexed to Boston and its schools became managed by the City of Boston. A replacement facility opened in Codman Square on Talbot Avenue 1901. The current Dorchester facility opened in 1925 on Peacevale Road to males, while the Talbot Avenue building was for females. In 1953 Dorchester High School consolidated as a coeducational school.
Today, Dorchester houses many of the city's high schools. Dorchester Education Complex (formerly Dorchester High School) is in Dorchester. The schools within the Dorchester complex include the Academy of Public Service, the Edward G. Noonan Business Academy, and TechBoston Academy. In September 2009 the Academy of Public Service and the Noonan Business Academy will merge into the Edward G. Noonan Academy for Business, Public Service and Law. Boston Latin Academy, a 7-12 secondary school and one of the city's three exam schools, and Jeremiah E. Burke High School, a high school, are also located in Dorchester.
Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston operates the Columbia Campus, the Dorchester Central Campus, the Lower Mills Campus, and the Neponset Campus.
Other parochial schools include:
Jim Carey-former Boston Bruin and Vezina award winner. Capt. Roger Fyler - Founding member of Massachusetts Bay Colony. Sailed on the Mary John Ship from Dorchester, England, 1630.
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