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Old 07-04-2008, 09:44 PM
1 posts, read 2,412 times
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Hi, I'm new to this forum. I have a kind of esoteric question, but here goes:

What are the real boundaries of Beacon Hill; I mean what would "good" families have considered respectable and non respectable addresses 100+ years ago? Louisburg Square I know of, any other suggestions? I need it for a writing project for school.

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Old 07-04-2008, 09:52 PM
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You might want to take a trip to the Nichols House or the Otis House, both of which have lots of info on the history of Beacon Hill. The North Slope used to be where the middle class and poor lived, including a large population of blacks. The South Slope was always wealthy.
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Old 07-05-2008, 07:51 AM
Location: Cambridge, MA
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What Coem said. The north slope (I've never heard it termed that, so didn't capitalize the words) was once known as "[n-word] Hill," which is why the Afro-American history museum is there and why it's part of the associated walking tour. You should also visit and find out more about the Vilna Shul, which was once a synagogue and served new Jewish immigrants in the neighborhood. Before Charles River Park, the Holiday Inn, etc, the entire area bounded by Storrow Dr, Cambridge St, Staniford St, and what's now called Lomasney Way was known as the West End. It was a densely-populated community of mostly "new Americans," ethnically mixed but with not too many Blacks. The demolition of that entire part of town - along with Scollay Square to make way for Government Center - during the 1950's and early '60s has been for decades a literal textbook example of how not to "redevelop" a city. Beacon Hill once meshed easily and comfortably with Scollay Square and the West End, so shouldn't be researched exclusive of those places.

In comparatively recent times - though still, apparently, before you were born, lol - the northern half of Beacon Hill continued to hold affordable housing. There were rooming houses (lately called "SRO" for Single Room Occupancy) on Bowdoin St, and there was also the large building known as Beacon Chambers. A non-profit, possibly religiously-affiliated, group is maintaining one rowhouse on Bowdoin as an SRO while the others have long since been remodeled into apartments or condos. Beacon Chambers went up in flames of "suspicious origin" around 1983. If you want to broaden your theme not only geographically, pursue the socioeconomic angle of how urban communities are losing their accessibility to the poor to middle-class segments of society and seeing their unique identities compromised or eroded in the process.

Then again, do as you like! Best of luck acing this.
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