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Boston is sometimes called a "city of neighborhoods". There are 21 designated neighborhood areas in Boston used by the city. Bostonians also have a variety of overlapping districts which they consider neighborhoods, squares, areas, etc. Many other boundaries established by the city's residential parking districts, the U.S. Postal Service, and a multitude of individual neighborhoods and neighborhood associations exist throughout the city.
"Neighborhoods" exist on both large and small scales. Brighton (including Allston), Charlestown, Dorchester (including South Boston, Mattapan, and Hyde Park), Roxbury (including West Roxbury, Roslindale and Jamaica Plain), have all at some point been municipalities independent from downtown Boston, providing a source of well-defined boundaries for the largest areas. Neighborhood associations often form around much smaller communities, or around a commercial district (often with "Square" in the name) with a well-defined center but poorly identified extremities.
Boston's leveling and expansion by landfill has influenced the naming of certain neighborhoods, such as the Back Bay, South Cove, and Fort Point. The West End, North End, and South End are no longer at those geographic extremities, due to the annexation of surrounding communities. The names originally referred to their positions on the Shawmut Peninsula, the original extent of Boston.
Surrounding downtown are the neighborhoods of the South End, North End, West End, Bay Village, Beacon Hill, and Back Bay. The South End is the center of the city's LGBT population and also populated by artists and young professionals as well as a vibrant African American community. The North End retains an Italian flavor with its many Italian restaurants, though many of its Italian families have moved out, while young professionals have moved in. The Back Bay, west of the Public Garden, is one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the United States. Beacon Hill, another wealthy neighborhood, is the site of the Massachusetts State House. The Back Bay and Beacon Hill are also home to national and local politicians, famous authors, and top business leaders and professionals. Bay Village is smallest and arguably least known neighborhood in Boston, most of its residents live in small brick row houses.
North and east of downtown are the neighborhoods of East Boston and Charlestown. East Boston has a majority of Hispanic and Brazilian population with a remnant of older Italians. On the north bank of the Charles River is Charlestown, once a predominantly Irish enclave and site of the Bunker Hill Monument, now is a haven for young professionals.
West of downtown are the neighborhoods of Fenway-Kenmore, Allston-Brighton and Mission Hill. Fenway/Kenmore borders the campus of Boston University and houses many college students and young professionals and is the location of Fenway Park. Allston/Brighton is populated heavily by students from nearby universities, as well as recent graduates. Mission Hill is adjacent to the Longwood Medical district, full of world-class medical institutions and retains an extremely diverse mix of African Americans, Asian Americans, whites and Latinos.
South of downtown are the neighborhoods of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, Dorchester, and South Boston. Dorchester is Boston's largest neighborhood and predominantly a working class community considered to be Boston's most diverse. Roxbury is populated largely by African Americans, Caribbean Americans, and Latinos and is historically the center of Boston's black community. Jamaica Plain is a community of white professionals and Latinos, and includes the larger side of the Arnold Arboretum. South Boston is a predominantly Irish-American neighborhood, which hosts the city's annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
South of Roxbury, Jamaica Plain, and Dorchester are the neighborhoods of Mattapan, Roslindale, Hyde Park, and West Roxbury. Roslindale is known for its small business district and includes the smaller side of the Arnold Arboretum, Roslindale has also recently become a Majority minority neighborhood. Mattapan remains the neighborhood with Boston's highest concentrations of African Americans. Hyde Park and West Roxbury have a distinct suburban feel, while still being a part of the city of Boston. Both neighborhoods have large areas of wooded parks and recreation land. Hyde Park is populated largely by African Americans and Caribbean Americans, whereas West Roxbury is predominately white with rapidly growing African American and Latino populations.
The City of Boston is officially divided into 21 neighborhoods for purposes of neighborhood services programs. These are:
Some insular territories are administered as part of the Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area.
The 21 official neighborhoods in Boston are made up of approximately 84 sub-districts, squares, and neighborhoods within each official neighborhood.The Boston Redevelopment Authority defines 16 planning districts (plus the Boston Harbor Islands) and 64 Neighborhood Statistical Areas (with four areas further subdivided). These correspond roughly with the neighborhoods and sub-neighborhoods of Boston. Unofficially, Boston is made up of approximately 105 neighborhoods.
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