South Boston

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This article is about the neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. For the town in Virginia, see South Boston, Virginia. For the town in Indiana, see South Boston, Indiana.
South Boston
Neighborhood of Boston
South Boston from the air
South Boston from the air
Nickname(s): Southie
Coordinates: 42°20′10″N 71°02′45″W / 42.33611°N 71.04583°W / 42.33611; -71.04583Coordinates: 42°20′10″N 71°02′45″W / 42.33611°N 71.04583°W / 42.33611; -71.04583
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Suffolk
Neighborhood of Boston
Annexed by Boston 1804
Population (2010) 35,200
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
Zip Code 02127
Area code(s) 617 / 857

South Boston is a densely populated neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, located south and east of the Fort Point Channel and abutting Dorchester Bay. One of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in the US, South Boston is most popularly known as Southie or "God's Country" Although still popularly known as a working class Irish-American neighborhood, it is also home to the Boston area's small but vibrant Polish and Lithuanian communities, and its demographics are rapidly changing. South Boston contains Dorchester Heights, where George Washington forced British troops to evacuate during the American Revolutionary War. South Boston's real estate market has exploded in recent years and South Boston has seen property values join the highest in the city.


Dorchester neck can be seen on this early map of Boston in the lower right.
South Boston in 1888 ("Süd Boston" on this German map.)

Geographically, Dorchester Neck was an isthmus, a narrow strip of land that connected the mainland of the colonial settlement of Dorchester with Dorchester Heights. Landfill has since greatly increased the amount of land on the eastern side of the historical neck, and widened the connection to the mainland to the point that South Boston is no longer considered separate from it. South Boston gained an identity separate from Dorchester, but the two were annexed by Boston in pieces, from 1804[1] to 1870.

During the American Revolutionary War, George Washington placed a cannon on Dorchester Heights, thereby forcing the evacuation of British troops from Boston on March 17, 1776. The British evacuated Boston and Fort William and Mary for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Fort William and Mary was replaced with a brick fortification known as Fort Independence. That fort was replaced by a granite fortification (bearing the same name) prior to the American Civil War, and still stands on Castle Island as a National Historic Landmark. Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Castle Island for five months in 1827 and was inspired to write The Cask of Amontillado based on an early Castle Island legend.

During the 1970s, South Boston received national attention for its opposition to court-mandated school (de facto) desegregation by busing students to different neighborhoods.

South Boston includes what is thought to be the first Vietnam veterans memorial in the United States. It predated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., by 13 months. It was dedicated on September 13, 1981 and is located at Independence Square, which is more commonly called M Street Park.[2]

In the 1990s, South Boston became the focus for a Supreme Court case on the right of gay and lesbian groups to participate in the Saint Patrick's Day (Evacuation Day) parade. The case was decided in favor of the parade's sponsors when the United States Supreme Court supported the South Boston Allied War Veterans' right to determine who can participate in their annual St. Patrick's Day parade.[3] In 1996 local Dorchester author Paul Walkowski and Attorney William Connolly detailed the case in their book "From Trial Court to the United States Supreme Court".[4]

In the early 21st century, property values, especially in the City Point neighborhood near Castle Island, rose to the level of some of the highest in the city. The City Point area of South Boston, labeled "East Side" by realtors, has seen a major increase in property values due to its close proximity to downtown Boston and gentrification.[citation needed] The "West Side" of South Boston, also known as the "lower end" by lifelong residents, though slower to begin the gentrification process also benefits from the proximity to not only downtown but also the popular South End. Additionally, the West Side is home to the first green residence (Gold LEED certified) in Boston — the Macallen Building which was featured in the movie The Greening of Southie.[5] The City of Boston is investing in the West Side through developments like the ~150,000-square-foot (14,000 m2) mixed use (residential and commercial) building being developed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority on West Broadway.

Waterfront redevelopment[edit]

New convention center
The Federal Courthouse on Fan Pier
Institute of Contemporary Art

The section of South Boston north of First Street has been targeted for massive redevelopment by the administration of Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA).[6] Initially referred to as the "Seaport District" by the BRA, this area was officially restyled the "South Boston Waterfront" after virulent protest from natives and local politicians, including City Council President James M. Kelly.[7] However, it is still also referred to as the Seaport District as of 2012.[8][9] The South Boston Waterfront area is part of the Port of Boston on Boston Harbor. While the area is not clearly defined, the Fort Point Channel forms one border and some parts of the area are also included in Fort Point neighborhood, an older, more historic term.

According to the Boston Waterfront Guide, the South Boston Waterfront has 55 restaurants, four hotels, and nine major attractions, and continues to grow.[10] The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center straddles D Street. The Seaport Hotel and Seaport World Trade Center is located on Commonwealth Pier. A new home for the Institute of Contemporary Art hangs over Boston Harbor just north of Northern Avenue. The John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse is on Fan Pier.[8] The South Boston Waterfront, in a massive renaissance, has exploded in recent years; considered "the hottest, fastest-growing real estate market in the country",[11] the Waterfront has seen an enormous construction boom. The "Innovation District," as ex-mayor Tom Menino termed it, is now home to tens of new office towers, residential buildings, and "innovation labs" either proposed or under construction.[12] As of September 2010, the Seaport Square project was also under planning. It was expected to cost $3 billion and replace parking lots between the federal courthouse and convention center with a 6,300,000-square-foot (590,000 m2) mixed-use development. Construction was expected to begin in 2011.[13]

The Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) Project, also known as the "Big Dig", has created a completely new transportation network for this area.[14] The Silver Line of the MBTA provides public transportation to the area, and the Boston Harborwalk runs through it.

Due to the increase in nightlife in the neighborhood, on street parking for residents has become increasingly scarce. In response, city officials are launching a 90 day pilot program that will expand resident only parking to seven days a week, from four. The aim, according to City Council President Bill Linehan is to address the scarcity of parking for residents on weekends.[15]


Public schools are operated by Boston Public Schools.


  • South Boston High School, which is now divided into two different high schools all within the same building, 1st floor is Excel High School which focuses on public safety studies, 2nd floor is also Excel High School, which focuses on computer technology, 3rd floor is Boston Green Academy, which focuses on science studies (9-12).
  • James Condon Elementary School (K-5)
  • Joseph P. Tynan School (K-5)
  • Michael J. Perkins School (K-5)
  • Oliver Hazard Perry School (K-8)
  • UP Academy Charter School of Boston (6-8)


  • St. Peter Academy (Preschool-8)
  • South Boston Catholic Academy (K-6) (formerly St. Brigid's School and Gate of Heaven which were combined)
  • Julie's Family Learning Center (Montessori Preschool)
  • Labouré Center Early Childhood Services (Preschool)
  • South Boston University (University)
  • Cultural and language schools:
    • Szkola Jezyka Polskiego w Bostonie (John Paul II Polish School for Children and Teens)
    • Wood's School of Irish Dance

Places of worship[edit]

Mural in South Boston saying "Welcome to South Boston" in English and "Fáilte go mBoston dheas" in Irish. Also shown is a Celtic cross, the coats of arms of the Provinces of Ireland and the words "Sinn Féin" "Irish Republican Army" and "NORAID." This Mural has been torn down along with the building to make way for resident housing.

Catholic Churches

  • Gate of Heaven Parish
  • Our Lady of Czestochowa (Polish)
  • Saint Monica - Saint Augustine (currently merged)
  • Saint Peter (Lithuanian)
  • Saint Vincent de Paul[16]
  • Our Lady of Good Voyage
  • Saint Brigid

Albanian Orthodox Churches

  • St George Cathedral: Located near the intersection of East and West Broadway, St George is the largest Orthodox Christian house of worship in Massachusetts. As the mother church of the Albanian diocese, the Cathedral serves as episcopal seat of Bishop Nikon, Bishop of Boston, New England and the Albanian Archdiocese.
  • Albanian Holy Trinity Church, Kisha Shqiptare e Shen Trinise: Located at 245 D Street Boston, Massachusetts 02127.
  • St John the Baptist


  • St Matthew and the Redeemer (former)


  • South Baptist Church, at 80 L Street[17][18]


  • Fourth Presbyterian Church

Community resources and organizations[edit]

  • South Boston Neighborhood House[19]
  • South Boston Boys and Girls Club (Part of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston)[20]
  • Labouré Center[21]
  • South Boston Branch Library[22]
  • South Boston Community Health Center[23]
  • South Boston Action Center
  • Paraclete Center
  • Tynan Community Center
  • PAL Gym


Carson Beach at sunrise
Marine Park at City Point

Shoreline of Dorchester Bay[edit]

Fort Independence, a pentagonal five-bastioned, granite fort built between 1834 and 1851, is the dominating feature of Castle Island. This 22-acre urban park is connected to the mainland by both pedestrian and vehicular causeways. Pleasure Bay, the M Street Beach and Carson Beach form a three-mile segment of parkland and beach along the South Boston shoreline of Dorchester Bay. Carson Beach offers some beautiful views and great public amenities: a rehabilitated Mothers' Rest, public restrooms, exhibit space, first aid and lifeguard functions, while the outdoor courtyards allow space for passive recreation. Carson Beach also features a walkway which allows one to walk, bike, or run along the water's edge from Castle Island to the Kennedy Library.

Fort Independence and Castle Island are on the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and the fort is a National Historic Landmark. Fort Independence is open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, hours vary. Fort tours are conducted by the Castle Island Association in the summer months and there is interpretive signage for self-guided tours. The principal program theme, the History of Castle Island, stresses the role of the fort in harbor defense."[24]

Thomas Park[edit]

Atop the Dorchester Heights hill sits a tall monument commemorating the Patriot battery that drove the British out of Boston. A popular site to view the Fourth of July fireworks, the Thomas Park (the oval drive around Dorchester Heights) area is one of the most attractive areas in South Boston.

M Street Park[edit]

Between M and N streets and north of Broadway, the M Street Park was one of the most desirable addresses in Boston in the late 19th century, and the brownstone buildings overlooking the park on the south side of the park remain some of the best examples of this style of architecture in New England. M Street Park is also home to the 1st standing Vietnam memorial in the nation included in this memorial are all the names of the South Boston residents who gave their lives fighting for the freedom of the United States. Also a popular spot for, families, dog lovers, and for watching the St Patrick's Day Parade. In addition also, two softball fields, little league field, basketball court, and play ground all contribute to the beautiful neighborhood which is South Boston.

Public housing[edit]

South Boston is home to some of the oldest public housing in the United States.[25] In the last 30 years they have changed from having a mostly Irish American population to a more ethnically mixed population.[citation needed] The housing facilities are under the control of the Boston Housing Authority (BHA)[26] and include West Broadway which was built in 1949 and occupies 20 acres (81,000 m2),[27] West Ninth Street[28] (these three facilities are next to each other and commonly called D street), Old Colony which was built in 1941,[29] and Mary Ellen McCormack, which is the BHA's oldest development, being constructed in the 1930s. It was originally called Old Harbor Village.[30]

Other developments are Harbor Point (HP is in Dorchester), Foley[31] and Monsignor Powers.[32]


South Boston is served by two Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Red Line rapid transit stations: Broadway and Andrew.

MBTA bus service connects these stations with the residential areas of South Boston, downtown Boston and the Back Bay. The MBTA Silver Line, a Bus rapid transit service running partly in a tunnel from South Station, also serves the north side of South Boston. South Boston is also served by five bus routes including the numbers 5, 7, 9, 10, 11.

Notable residents[edit]

South Boston has been the birthplace and home to a number of notable people, including:



  1. ^ Topographical History of South Boston. 1970.
  2. ^ "History of the Memorial". South Boston Vietnam Memorial. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  3. ^ "U.S. Supreme Court HURLEY v. IRISH-AMERICAN GAY GROUP OF BOSTON, ___ U.S. ___ (1995)". FindLaw. 18 June 1995. Retrieved 2009-02-02. 
  4. ^ Walkowski, Paul; Connolly, William (April 1996). From Trial Court to the United States Supreme Court Anatomy of a Free Speech Case: The Incredible Inside Story Behind the Theft of the St. Patrick's Parade. Branden Books. ISBN 0-8283-2012-8. 
  5. ^ The Greening of Southie (2008)
  6. ^ "South Boston Waterfront Public Realm Plan". Boston Redevelopment Authority. October 21, 2003. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  7. ^ Marantz, Steve (June 12, 1999). "Menino ends name battle with S. Boston Waterfront.". The Boston Herald. But the major stipulation is the "South Boston Waterfront" name, a priority of City Council President James M. Kelly, who objected to the Seaport District appellation used in printed documents of the Boston Redevelopment Authority. 
  8. ^ a b Vogel, Chris; and Patrick Doyle and Matthew Reed Baker (July 2012). "The Rise of the Seaport". Boston Magazine. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  9. ^ Chesto, Jon (2012-04-17). "The South Boston waterfront gets a new website – and another new name". Mass. Market. Retrieved 26 March 2013. 
  10. ^ ] Boston Waterfront Guide]
  11. ^ Acitelli, Tom. "On Southie Becoming South Boston". Curbed. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  12. ^ Various. "Seaport Square". Curbed. Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Seaport makeover to begin next year". Boston Metro, 23 September 2010, p 3.
  14. ^ James M. Kelly, long-time city councilor and South Boston icon, dies. Boston Globe, January 9, 2007.
  15. ^ Ryan, Andrew. "South Boston skeptical of parking changes". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Cf. Sammarco (2006), p.25
  18. ^ History of the South Baptist Church, Boston, Boston : Alfred Mudge & Son, 1865.
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Boston Connects. South Boston[dead link]
  26. ^ "Welcome to the Boston Housing Authority". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  27. ^ "West Broadway". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  28. ^ "West Ninth Street". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  29. ^ "Old Colony". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  30. ^ "Mary Ellen McCormack". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  31. ^ "Foley". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  32. ^ "Monsignor Powers". Boston Housing Authority. Retrieved 2009-02-01. 
  33. ^ Marquard, Bryan (2010-06-22). "John Ferruggio, at 84; hero of 1970 Pan Am hijacking". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-06-27. 


Further reading

External links[edit]