South Bay, Boston

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The South Bay Interchange connects Interstates 90 and 93 with local streets. This photo was taken from the 44th floor of One Financial Center.

South Bay is a 10-acre (40,000 m²) site in Boston, Massachusetts between Chinatown and the Leather District. It is roughly bounded by Kneeland Street, Hudson Street, the Massachusetts Turnpike mainline, and the Interstate 93 mainline. Currently owned by the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA), the area is taken up by a major highway interchange between 90, 93, and local streets. There were originally plans to re-develop the area with a 600-foot tall office tower, but no such project has taken place.

History of the site[edit]

The South Bay district, as well as the adjacent Chinatown and Leather District neighborhoods, sit on filled land. Once part of South Cove, a portion of Boston's South Bay, it was filled in 1833 by the South Cove Corporation, who built an intermodal train/sea station as part of the Boston and Worcester Railroad. This development included residential and commercial area, and what was considered at the time to be the largest hotel in the United States. Throughout most of the 19th Century and the early half of the 20th Century, the district was made up of rail yards serving railroads entering Boston from the south and west.

The rail yards and terminus attracted leather and garment businesses, which constructed the commercial buildings in the adjacent Leather District. Similarly, the railroad served as an immigrant gateway, a role which it played beginning in the late 19th century for many Asian newcomers, particularly Chinese.

In the 1950s, the Massachusetts Highway Department displaced much of the rail yards to build the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway (the Central Artery). Later the South Bay interchange connected the Central Artery to the Massachusetts Turnpike. The intersection has since been reconstructed by the Big Dig, with tunnels to South Boston and Logan Airport.

Coordinates: 42°20′53″N 71°03′35″W / 42.348062°N 71.059613°W / 42.348062; -71.059613