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Remembering The ‘West End’

BOSTON — The familiar sign on Storrow Drive reads, “If you lived here, you’d be home now.” It’s promoting an apartment complex that replaced a neighborhood that used to be home to a diverse and bustling working-poor community of immigrants.

In the 1950s, residents of the West End were forced to leave when Boston seized the land by eminent domain for an urban renewal project — now widely denounced as a massive mistake.

To this day, former residents feel the loss of their homes, and they occasionally gather to talk about the old days.

This weekend, former “West Enders” will gather in their old neighborhood for another reunion. The reunion coincides with a new exhibit at the West End Museum curated by Duane Lucia, titled “Leaving The River” by fellow West Ender and artist Evelyn Berde.

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  • Macpet49

    Didn’t stop developers from pushing people out and doesn’t in the future.  The City of Boston has always been a haven for bullies of all types esp. political bullies and they were in on the deal to make a lot of money fast by bulldozing and rebuilding.  They still do it and nobody now cares or dares do anything.  Life in America is relatively fascist–right wing.  This kind of West End thing and wiping out history will happen a lot more!

  • Chester Hartman

    Earlier, that sign at Charles River Park (the upper-income housing on what was the West End neighborhood) had a spraypainted “less” next to “home” — so, “If you lived here, you’d be homeless now.”  I have a photo of that version in a community resource book — “Displacement: How to Fight It” –I co-wrote back in the 70s with two colleagues for the National Housing Law Project. As a graduate student in urban planning at Harvard, I was on the staff of the Center for Community Studies at Mass. General Hospital that, with a grant from the Natl. Inst. for Mental Health, studied in detail the damage done by forced displacement from this “urban village” (as sociologist Herbert Gans labeled the neighborhood in his classic study). I might be able to send a photocopy of the revised photo referred to above to anyone who would like to have it.  Chester Hartman, chartman@prrac.org

    • Stonehamsoccer42

      Hello Chester, my name is Alex and I am doing a project on the urbanization of the West End as a part of our National History Day at my high school. This year’s topic is Revolution, Reaction & Reform and my group decided to do it about the West End. I have read numerous articles on the mental and emotional impacts that the people who lived there had to bear with and I would love a photocopy! I’ve come across that quote numerous times and think it would be perfect with our project.

      Thanks, 
      Alex

  • Maggie21150

    I am currently researching and writing a story about the West End for my class.  I was born there in 1950.  My grandparents, Scilian immagrants were one of the families affected by the Urban Development that razed the neighborhood.  Now it looks like part of Beacon Hill with apartments whose rents only a doctor can afford.  The Mass General Hospital and parking lots occupy my family’s home.  How sad.  A “blighted slum” they called it, to justify tearing down the 5 story tenements.  A part of Boston’s history went with it.   

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