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Boston's South End

Boston's South End

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Boston's South End

Longueur:
209 pages
48 minutes
Sortie:
Jun 9, 2004
ISBN:
9781439615584
Format:
Livre

Description

Originally a narrow, barren strip of land known as the Neck, Boston's South End grew from a lonely sentry post and execution grounds to what is today the largest Victorian neighborhood in the United States. With the filling of the South Cove in the 1830s, the area became one of the greatest planned residential districts of its time, a heritage preserved in unique architectural features such as red brick swell bay facades, elaborate balusters, and fanciful porches.
Sortie:
Jun 9, 2004
ISBN:
9781439615584
Format:
Livre

À propos de l'auteur

Anthony Mitchell Sammarco is a noted historian and author of over sixty books on Boston, its neighborhoods and surrounding cities and towns. He lectures widely on the history and development of his native city.

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Aperçu du livre

Boston's South End - Anthony Mitchell Sammarco

Garden.

Introduction

The South End of Boston is today the largest Victorian neighborhood in the United States. Bound by East Berkeley (formerly known as Dover), Lenox, and Albany Streets and the tracks of the old Boston and Providence Railroad, the South End was originally known as the Neck, the area that connected Boston to the mainland at Roxbury, Massachusetts.

During the mid-nineteenth century, the former South Cove and South Bay areas were filled, creating large amounts of new land that constituted the New South End. During the colonial period, the area of Summer Street was referred to as the South End (in contrast to the North End). However, by the early 1850s the former Neck (a barren strip of land, at its narrowest point averaging 100 feet in width, that was once the site of executions and a sentry post one had to pass to enter Boston) was infilled with soil in a process that not only took a great deal of foresight, but that would eventually lead to the engineering skills necessary to complete the infilling of the Back Bay.

The South End was laid out by Charles Bulfinch in 1801 and was elaborated by city engineer Ellis S. Chesbrough and William P. Parrott as a grid pattern of streets that radiated from Washington Street, which was the street one traveled before the Neck was expanded. The South Cove Company began infilling the marshlands in 1833 and achieved 73 acres of new land in three years. The residential streets had center parks, a concept of green space that had been introduced in 1793 by Charles Bulfinch in the Tontine Crescent on Franklin Street and that was carried through to some new Victorian streets such as Union Park, Concord Square, Rutland Square, Worcester Square, and Chester Square. Enclosed by lavish cast-iron fences, these parks were planted with trees and often had playing fountains that sprayed water high into the air. The repetitive pattern of the South End rowhouses, a descendant of Bulfinch’s connected townhouses that he introduced to Boston in the 1790s, was evident in the uniformity of the roof cornices, the often-used swell bay facades, and the use of red brick as a building material. The South End was a district well laid out, and splendidly built to house those who demanded the best homes of that period. With the use of cast-iron fences, balusters, and in some instances fanciful balconies, the South End was the epitome of a planned residential district in the urban aspect of a city. However, some, such as Mr. Pier in The Sentimentalists, said that In this region the streets are flat, treeless asphalt wastes, lined with brick shells, in most of which the vestibule bears a perforation of electric buttons and suggest the but recently abated presence of a slovenly scrub-woman. The window curtains are uniformly of frowsy lace. (We can imagine Mr. Pier pontificating about the the tinge of Bohemia in the South End of Boston in the late nineteenth century!) Unfortunately, the South End rapidly slipped from fashion in the 1870s and increasingly became a lodging house district.

One feature of the South End is the large number of churches and institutions that relocated to the new area after it was infilled. As Boston’s population continued to expand in the 1830s and 1840s, through both nature and immigration, the lack of available lands for this expansion led to new perceptions of land use. Once the South Cove and South Bay areas were infilled and a grid plan of streets was laid out, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross began in 1866 to build a new church on Washington Street, selling its former property on Franklin Street in downtown Boston for a vast sum of money. Following the cathedral’s lead in moving to the South End was the Church of the Immaculate Conception on Harrison Avenue, which, like the cathedral, was designed by New York architect Patrick C. Keeley. Numerous Protestant churches also relocated to the South End, among them the South Congregational Church, the Zion German Lutheran Church, the Tremont Street Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Columbus Avenue Universalist Church. With this momentum, the aspect of a new neighborhood arose and schools, stores, and hotels were subsequently built.

In the nineteenth century, the South End’s new lands also attracted numerous hospitals that were built to serve the ever-increasing population of the city. Boston City Hospital was designed by Gridley J. Fox Bryant on Harrison Avenue between 1861 and 1864; it was followed by the Massachusetts Homeopathic Hospital, designed by William Ralph Emerson between 1875 and 1876 on East Concord Street, and the Boston University School of Medicine, which had in 1874 merged with the New England Female Medical College. These three hospitals created stability in the new South End and experienced tremendous growth and expansion over the next few decades. By the late nineteenth century, the South End was not just a residential district of bow-fronted, high-stooped townhouses, but was also the location of numerous businesses and factories, prominent among them piano factories.

After the Panic of 1873,

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