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Not to be confused with Matapan.
Neighborhood of Boston
The Mattapan-Ashmont Trolley
The Mattapan-Ashmont Trolley
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Suffolk
Neighborhood of Boston
Annexed by Boston 1870
Population (2010) 36,480
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
Zip Code 02126
Area code(s) 617 / 857
Mattapan bus loop

Mattapan is a neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. Historically a section of neighboring Dorchester, Mattapan became a part of Boston when Dorchester was annexed in 1870. As of the 2010 census, it had a population of 36,480. Like other neighborhoods of the late 19th and early 20th century, Mattapan developed, residentially and commercially, as the railroads and streetcars made downtown Boston increasingly accessible. Predominantly residential, Mattapan is a mix of public housing, small apartment buildings, single-family houses, and two- and three-family houses (known locally as "Three-Deckers" or "Triple-Deckers"). Blue Hill Avenue and Mattapan Square, where Blue Hill Avenue, River Street, and Cummins Highway meet, are the commercial heart of the neighborhood, home to banks, law offices, restaurants, and retail shops. The new Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public library opened 2009, at a cost of more than $4 million. Mattapan has a large portion of green space with in the neighborhood. The Harambee Park, the Franklin Zoo, the Boston Nature Zoo Center and Wildlife Sanctuary, and historic Forest Hill Cementary can all be considered green space within the neighborhood of Mattapan. Mattapan's demographics are diverse, with a large population of Haitians, Caribbean immigrants, and African Americans.[1]

Mattapan is claimed as the original Native American name for the Dorchester area, though accounts vary whether the phrase meant "a good place to be," or "a good place to sit" [2][3] or "an evil, spread about place." [4]



Mattapan was originally a part of Dorchester up until the nineteenth century, when it was annexed onto its own neighborhood. Dorchester was settled by English settlers in 1630.[5] The Neponsett Tribe originally settled Mattapan, which was a tribe of the Massachusetts confederation of Native Americans. The name Mattapan came from tis Native American tribe and it means “a good place to be” or “a good place to sit”. The belief behind why the Neponsett Tribe chose the name Mattapan is that the river runs through it and the area was so full of nature that it was a beautiful place to just sit back and take it all in. At the turn of the 20th century, Caucasians who were primarily Jewish inhabited Mattapan but around the late 1960’s the social movement of whites into the suburbs left Mattapan with a very large African American population. Another shift occurred in the 1980’s when a significant number of Haitians immigrated to Mattapan, which would lead to the current demographic population. Mattapan because of the Haitian population has become an important center for the Haitian cultural, social, and political life in the entire state of Massachusetts. In 2015, Mattapan has a large population of not just Haitians but also African Americans, Jamaicans, and other Caribbean immigrants.[6]

Demographic change[edit]

"Rise," a pair of statues installed in 2005, flank Blue Hill Avenue in Mattapan and define it as a gateway to Boston. This statue is by Fern Cunningham.
"Rise;" this member of the pair is by Karen Eutemy.

In the 1960s and 1970s Mattapan went through a major change in the makeup of its population. It shifted from a predominantly Jewish neighborhood to one that is now largely African American and Caribbean American having a population of 37,486 that is over 77% African American and Caribbean American.[7]

The period from 1968 to 1970 made up the most dramatic period of ethnic transition in Boston. According to Levine and Harmon in their book, Death of an American Jewish Community, redlining the area, blockbusting, and fear in neighborhood residents created by real estate agents allegedly brought about panic selling and white flight. The banking consortium Boston Banks Urban Renewal Group (B-BURG) allegedly drove the Jewish community out of Mattapan and are held partially responsible for the ensuing deterioration of the neighborhood, especially along the Blue Hill Avenue corridor. This widely held belief has been disputed, with differences between the Catholic and Jewish communities in Boston being the greater contributing factor.[8] According to Levine and Harmon, the reason behind this orchestrated attack on the community was to lower market values to buy property, sell the housing with federally guaranteed loans at inflated prices to black families who could not afford it, and to get the white community to buy property owned by the banks in the suburbs.


In Mattapan the population was 36,299 in 2013. Of this percent, 8.5% was Caucasian, 81% is African American, 1% Asian, 2% mixed race, and 6.5% is devoted to other races.[1] According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, 67.3% of households are family based rather than single men and women or couples. It was also mentioned that Mattapan is among the highest percentage of people who speak French in their homes.[2] Based on percentages in Mattapan the cost of living is 8% lower than Boston, the total crime rate is 27% higher compared to Boston, the amount of High School graduates are 11% lower than Boston, employment is 9% lower than Boston, and housing is 23% lower than Boston.[1] Also for your convenience and support, the Department of Housing and Urban Development have many options available for people or families with all different needs. Finding a job is very difficult nowadays but If you are unemployed and struggling to pay rent or looking for low income housing there are apartments that you can rent. Looking at it from a different perspective, if your looking for a place to own that option is available as well. There are single family homes, family apartments, disabled and senior citizen apartments, and apartments for children and their families all within your budget span. [3] Here is a place for all to live, they welcome diversity and the population of mixed cultures continues to increase.

Current Demographics[edit]

Today Mattapan is seeing another major population shift, albeit a natural turn over of housing, as a large number of immigrants from Haiti and other Caribbean countries continue to move in. Mattapan now has the largest Haitian community in Massachusetts, and is also largely made up of African Americans and immigrants from other Caribbean countries.[1] In 2013 the population in Mattapan was 36,299.Of this total 8.5% were Caucasian, 81% were African American, 1% were Asian, 2% were a mixed race, and 6.5% were devoted to other races.[9] According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority 72.4% of the population living in Mattapan were born in Massachusetts, 23.6% were born outside of the states, and 3.2% were born outside of the United States. Of those born outside of the United States 33.2% were born in Haiti and 17.2% were born in Jamaica. For the total adult population, 38.9% graduated from High School, well only 14.7% have a Bachelors degree. The median household income in Mattapan is $44,744.[10]


PCC 3238 at Mattapan

The Mattapan-Ashmont trolley line of the MBTA serves Mattapan as well as several bus routes. This line is the only one in Boston that has streetcars which makes it extremely unique because it is a part of our worlds history that still works today; it is explained that riding on the Mattapan Line gives people "a strong sense of what transit was once like in Boston." This specific line is said to be "the most scenic transit route in Boston today." To give you an idea of what riding in a streetcar is like, the Mattapan High Speed Line website explains it best with these next few sentences, "Since the line was converted from steam train to streetcar operation in 1928, the Mattapan Line trolleys have shuttled riders from Ashmont Station in the delightful Lower Mills neighborhood of Dorchester along the Neponset River through Milton to Mattapan. The line instantly takes a country feel to it after it leaves the urban setting of Peabody Square. From then on, the line runs alongside the Neponset River, where one can see greenery and water all around. Milton, particularly the area around the Central Avenue station, feels very classic, with plenty of small independent shops and restaurants some of which still retain 1950s signage. At the Butler, Milton or Central Avenue stations, one can hitch onto the Neponset Trail and take a "walk through the country," or even a bike or kayak ride, about half an hour away from Boston!" All in all, the Mattapan Line provides a scenic, easily accessible country retreat from thrills of Boston all for the cost of a typical T fare. [11]

The Fairmount Line of the MBTA Commuter Rail also serves Mattapan at Morton Street, providing service to downtown Boston and the suburbs. The Fairmount Corridor Commuter Rail Line currently runs from South Station south through the Boston neighborhoods of Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and terminates in Readville section of Hyde Park. It consists of approximately 9.2 miles of track, four stations (Uphams Corner, Morton Street, Fairmount, and Readville) and forty-one bridges. It is the only Commuter Rail Branch that exclusively serves the City of Boston and MBTA’s Urban Core.[12]

Government and infrastructure[edit]

Map of Boston City Council District 4, 2012

The United States Postal Service operates the Mattapan Post Office.[11]

Urban Policies[edit]

Mattapan platforms and yard

In 1960, redlining was a huge issue in Mattapan. Redlining was an act of discrimination. It denied people the access to get loans or mortgages on houses if you lived in a certain area. Racial segregation is a constant problem in society today and although it has become less of a problem it still exists. "The population in Manhattan during the 1960's rose from 500 to over 19,000 in one decade. This was followed by an influx of thousands of Haitians in the 1970s. By 1999, The Boston Globe reported that there were between 70,000 and 120,000 Haitians living in Mattapan, making it one of the largest Haitian communities in Massachusetts." Nowadays Manhattan is still a very popular place to live. Mostly people of color migrate here because of racial segregation, for example, stated in the article, over 90% of the population is made up of colored people, 84% being Black, 7% Latino, 3% White, and 1% Asian. [4] Per capita income in Mattapan for a typical neighborhood is just $14,800.[4]

According to this article, [4] Black and Latino residents in the Mattapan area experience higher levels of chronic disease, mortality, and poorer health than the White residents living in Mattapan. This is an issue of unequal opportunity within Mattapan. Whites in any city or town get the proper health care that is needed whereas Blacks are discriminated against just because they are a different color. With information to build off what I just said, the Boston Health Public Commission (BPHC) stated that, "These persistent health disparities are driven by the interaction of several factors including racism, living conditions, physical environment, socioeconomic status, food security, lifestyle, available health services, and existing health policies. The data provided offers a broad picture of the health experience of our city, identifies individuals and communities at greatest risk for certain conditions, and stimulates discussion among individuals within our communities. Understanding the city's diversity is essential to developing policies and strategies that address health equity in Boston."[4]

Urban Renewal has played a great deal in the city of Mattapan. Then Boston Mayor Thomas Menino helped put these projects into place in 2006. After increased business and capital investment in commercial areas along with peoples properties, Mattapan became more popular and more of an increasing area that people moved to.[5]

Urban Policies 2[edit]

In 2006, Mayor Thomas Menino implemented the Mattapan Economic Development Initiative. Mayor Menino created “MEDI” (Mattapan Economic Development Initiative so that there was a specific plan and framework to grow the economy and the quality of life within the Mattapan community. The three main goals of the “MEDI” are to “1. Improve the business districts of Mattapan Square, Blue Hill Avenue Center, and the Morton Village Corridor. 2. Create job opportunities within the neighborhood. 3. Increase capital investment in commercial areas and properties.” The Boston Redevelopment Authority was in charge of ensuring that these goals would be met. Mayor Menino backed this redevelopment plan with $250,000 to ensure that small business growth occurred.[12] Mayor Menino also funded and allowed for a Community Implementation Team to be put in place to work with the Mattapan Economic Development Initiative to work with the zoning laws and issues within the neighborhood of Mattapan. Some major issues being addressed with zoning in Mattapan is to increase the building heights and density of the buildings in the business districts. Another major issue that the Community Implementation Team is looking at with zoning is how to better make the neighborhood a welcoming and healthy environment to reside in. According to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, “Commutatively, the zoning recommendations have the minimum potential to add 100,000 square feet of commercial space, 500 jobs, 700 housing units, and bring an additional $11 million dollars in purchasing power to Mattapan.” [12]


Primary and secondary schools[edit]

Boston Public Schools (BPS) operates public schools in Mattapan. Ellison/Parks Early Education School is in Mattapan.[13] Elementary schools include James J. Chittick,[14] Mattahunt,[15] and Charles H. Taylor.[16] Mildred Avenue K-8 School is located in Mattapan.[17] The Young Achievers Science and Mathematics Pilot K-8 School, a BPS school,[18] occupies the former campus of Solomon Lewenberg Middle School, which closed in 2009.[19]

Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston operates the Mattapan Square Campus. (Formally the Saint Angela Merci elementary school)[20]

Education 1[edit]

Education is one of the most important things people look at when moving to a new town/city. Mattapan has countless school systems for parents and children to research and visit to find one that best fits the needs of their child. Depending on what grade your child is in here are the options, "there are 7 K-12 schools in Mattapan, MA, including 5 public schools and 2 private schools. There are 8 Mattapan elementary schools, 3 Mattapan middle schools and 21 Mattapan preschool schools." [9]All within the Boston District Community. There is also a Boys and Girls Club called the Mattapan Teen Center which is a safe and fun environment for kids to go and take on responsibilities that will later help them evolve into responsible adults. It is a time for kids to have fun, interact with one another, and face the realities of the real world. [10] Statistically, Mattapan school systems resulted in 40% of males receiving their High School Diploma and 33.9% of females receiving theirs. [1]

The schools in Mattapan have received some really good reviews from parents who's kids went to these schools. One school, which is Dr. Catherine Ellison-Rosa Parks Early Education School, is for third graders only, and got 5 out of 5 stars and her review was, "I love this School! My son has been here for 2 years and I love this small and cozy school. Its sad that is only to 3rd grade. I love the School personnel, and specially Luis because he help me and my son in our native spanish language. Love you all and Thank's 4 everything!!!" [9] It is important to see that the staff at this school are working tirelessly with students who speak a different language and with further research I'm sure there are plenty more schools like this. Parents or caregivers have the option of sending their children to either public or private schools and within these schools there are many accommodations to work with both the families and children who may have a disability or who needs to learn to speak English fluently.

Education 2[edit]

In Mattapan there are seven schools ranging from preschools to middle schools. There are five public schools and two private schools located in with in the confines of the Mattapan neighborhood. There are twenty one preschools, eight elementary schools, and three middle schools.[21] The five public schools are all apart of the Boston Public School system. In terms of statistics 40% of males and 33.9% of females received their high school diplomas.[10] Mattapan schools have received high quality reviews from parents and the Dr. Catherine Ellison-Rosa Parks Early Education School has received a 5 out of 5 star rating on[10] In accordance with the Boston Public School system the mission of the Mattapan schools are to meet the needs of their students, whether it be through disabilities or language barriers. Also, parents or guardians have the right to school choice in order to meet the needs of their children. [22]

Community Resources[edit]

Along with the library, Mattapan has many other activities that you can take part in. If you have children you can choose to take them to the playground, the pop-up museum, which involves both the parents and child, while you work with education leaders in the community your child can learn about literacy and learn new activities with you by their side. Most importantly, there is a Mattapan Community Health Center in the center of the city which is very important and useful to know about. Also, "Child Quality Care Initiative (CQCI) aims to work with multicultural home care providers in the Dudley Square neighborhood to improve quality of care and school readiness." [6]This can be very beneficial to parents who just moved here and want their kids to get a head start on their education. It is also an advantage for children to get to know one another before entering school so they can make friends prior and feel more comfortable in the classrooms.

Within any city, what is usually significant to know is your surroundings, the people within your neighborhood, and making a positive difference in your city. Mattapan offers it all. They have endless options to allow you to give back to your community. For example, the Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition, Fairmount Greenway Coalition, Neponset River Greenway Coalition, Mattapan United, and the Youth and Family Enrichment Services is all being offered to anyone who wants to be part of it. To learn more about each of these very successful projects just click the links provided and it will direct you to what they entail.[7] Mattapan Community Health Center Mattapan Food and Fitness Coalition Fairmount Greenway Coalition Neponset River Greenway Coalition Mattapan United Youth and Family Enrichment Services And of course if you are feeling hungry and looking for places to eat there are plenty of restaurants that received four stars and have plenty of reviews available for you to read. Some of the best restaurants that are well known in Mattapan are, Chinatown Express, Simco's, Ali's Roti Restaurant, Flames Restaurant, and River Street Grill.[8]Conveniently enough, there is so much to offer in Mattapan in just 1 mile from the center of it. There are 20 grocery stores, 20 restaurants and liquor stores, 20 shopping areas, 1 coffee and cafe shop, 20 schools, 20 parks, 4 libraries, 1 night life entertainment, 20 public transportation, and 3 fitness centers.[1] There is ample amount of things to do in Mattapan with plenty of transportation to bring you back and forth.

Community Resources 2[edit]

Mattapan recently built a brand new library in February 2009. The Mattapan Branch of the Boston Public Library is a community resource for the neighborhood of Mattapan. The library offers programs and events for ages ranging from infancy to adulthood. The library offers a wide variety of literature, movies, and music to entertain the residents. There are also weekly films presented for toddlers, "Fun with Books" meetings, teen movie showings, and lastly a teen advisory board. All of these events and social gathers are important community resources for the youth of the neighborhood.[23] This not the only community resource with in Mattapan though. Another important resource for the Mattapan neighborhood is the Mattapan Community Health Center. This health center is vital to the community and provides health services to not just Mattapan but surrounding neighborhoods as well.[24] There is also the "Child Quality Care Initiative" is an organization in Mattapan. that works with multicultural home care providers in the Dudley Square area to better the ability of youth to enter into a school atmosphere. This is beneficial to parents and youth in the Mattapan neighborhood because it gives them an early start to their education and adjusting to the social aspect that entering into a new school brings with it.[25] There is a Boys and Girls Club in Mattapan that is also a Teen Center. The Teen Center is a safe and fun environment for kids and teenagers to congregate and to interact with one another.[26]

Public libraries[edit]

Boston Public Library operates the Mattapan Branch Library. On December 18, 1849 a Mattapan resident named Increase S. Smith opened the Mattapan Library Association. In 1870 Dorchester, Massachusetts, which included Mattapan, was annexed into Boston. The Mattapan branch began as a reading room attached to the Oakland Hall Building's delivery station. In 1923 the reading room was declared a branch of the Boston Public Library. On June 22, 1931 the Mattapan Library Branch opened on Hazelton Street. The current library opened on February 28, 2009 at 1350 Blue Hill Avenue.[27]

Notable residents[edit]


There are a wide variety of things to do in Mattapan, ranging from night clubs to restaurants. "MuCamba Latina" is located in Mattapan Sqaure and is a popular dance night club and has a positive atmosphere for an upbeat crowd. There is also "Ali's Roti" Restaurant which offers Caribbean inspired food. Which makes this a favorite local spot in Mattapan because of the high population of Caribbean descendants and natives. Another local favorite is "Only One Jamaican Restaurant", this restaurant specializes in Jamaican food. The restaurants in Mattapan are unique to the neighborhood and definitely worth the visit because of the authentic food to the culture that surrounds the area.[28]

Parks and Outdoor Spaces[edit]

In Mattapan there is a statue called the Rise/Gateway to Boston. It stands in Mattapan Square at Blue Hill Ave and Cummins Highway. The two 19-foot tall statues "suggests an archway that welcomes motorists and pedestrians into Mattapan Square. Former Mattapan residents each created one of the two sculptures. "One statue is known to depict the diversity of Mattapan, which has been home to many different ethnic populations." These two statues represent the Native Americans, more along the lines of the Mattahunt tribe who came here 400 years ago. The other statue is of a black Civil War solider and the purpose of this is to portray the immigrants who lived here in the earlier years, those being Jews, Germans, and of Irish descent. [13] There is also another statue across from this one and is described as, "Eutemy's more abstract piece evokes a positive future, illustrated through the symbol of a rising sun. The mask-like faces below belong to no clearly defined racial or ethnic group. Explaining the significance of their work, Cunningham and Eutemy borrowed the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “Live together as brothers or perish together as fools.” [13] These statues are of significant importance because Mattapan is so diverse and has been this way for such a long time that it needs to be honored and what better way then to make a sculpture to represent this. It has a purpose as to why it stands in Mattapan Square and that is to remind all everyday that we are all equal and need to be united as one.

Other than looking at famous pieces regarding Mattapan's history there are many other things for you to do, for instance, you have the option of going to Mattapan Square Farmer's Market to enjoy fresh fruit and you have the choice of paying with cash, EBT cards, coupons, or if your a senior citizen you can pay with the senior citizen coupons. It allows people the chance to buy fresh fruits and vegetables, etc, and the chance to pay for it all in the most accommodating way possible. [14] The Boston Nature Center in Mattapan is a beautiful scenery for people and families to enjoy. You have the option of going down trails or boardwalks or make your way through meadows and wetlands. "It is home to over 150 species of birds, 40 species of butterflies, and more than 350 species of plants."[15] The trails that are accessible for people to experience and try out is the, Snail Trail, Fox Trail, Rabbit Trail, Sensory Trail, and the Nature Nook. All of these trails have different scenaries for you to take in and appreciate and if you want to be hands on, the Nature Nook allows you to dig, build, climb, or make music and art. The Nature Center attracts many tourists and has endless amounts of things for people of all ages to do. [15]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Cf. "Heart of the City, Mattapan", The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston, at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  3. ^ Galvin, William Francis, (Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts), " Archaic Community, District, Neighborhood, Section and Village, Names in Massachusetts", Citizen Information Service, Office of The Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 2008. It lists: "Mattapan / Archaic Name of Dorchester / Suffolk".
  4. ^ Dorchester Atheneum,
  5. ^ "Matapan/Dorchester" (PDF). City Of Boston. 
  6. ^ "Facts". Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  7. ^ City of Boston: Neighborhood Profile: Mattapan
  8. ^ Urban Exodus: Why the Jews Left Boston and the Catholics Stayed by Gamm, Gerald, Harvard University Press, 1999. ISBN 0-674-93070-3
  9. ^ "Mattapan, Boston Ma". Area Vibes Inc. 
  10. ^ a b c "American Community Survey". Retrieved 25 March 2015. 
  11. ^ "Post Office Location - MATTAPAN." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  12. ^ a b "Mattapan Economic Development Initiative". 
  13. ^ "Ellison/Parks Early Education School." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  14. ^ "James J. Chittick Elementary School." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  15. ^ "Mattahunt Elementary School." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  16. ^ "Charles H. Taylor Elementary School." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  17. ^ "Mildred Avenue K-8 School." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  18. ^ "Young Achievers Science and Mathematics Pilot K-8 School." Boston Public Schools. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  19. ^ Vaznis, James. "A school’s roller coaster ride ends." The Boston Globe. June 27, 2009. 1. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  20. ^ "Mattapan Square Campus." Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  21. ^ "Mattapan Schools". Retrieved 21 April 2015. 
  22. ^ "Boston Public School". 
  23. ^ Mattapan Branch.  Missing or empty |title= (help);
  24. ^ Mattapan Community Health Center Retrieved 10 April 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ "Child Quality Care Initiative". Vital Village. Retrieved 10 April 2015. 
  26. ^ "Mattapan Teen Center". Mattapan Teen Center. 
  27. ^ "Mattapan Branch Library." Boston Public Library. Retrieved on May 23, 2010.
  28. ^ Mattapan Entertainment,+Boston,+MA&cflt. Retrieved 21 April 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°16′20″N 71°05′13″W / 42.27222°N 71.08694°W / 42.27222; -71.08694