Dorchester, Massachusetts

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1888 German map of Boston Harbor showing Dorchester in the lower left hand corner.
1888 German map of Boston Harbor showing Dorchester in the lower left hand corner.

Dorchester is the largest neighborhood within the City of Boston, located within Suffolk County, Massachusetts. It is now a large and diverse working class community with many African-Americans and East and Southeast Asians, and is still a center of Irish-American immigration. It is named after the town of Dorchester in the English county of Dorset, from which Puritans emigrated.


[edit] Neighborhoods

Neighborhoods within Dorchester include Uphams Corner, Harbor Point (formerly known as Columbia Point), Savin Hill, Jones Hill, Fields Corner, Four Corners, Franklin Field, Franklin Hill, Codman Square, Ashmont, Lower Mills, Meeting House Hill, Neponset, Popes Hill and Port Norfolk.

The eastern areas of Dorchester (especially between Adams Street and Massachusetts Bay) are primarily ethnic white or Asian, with a large population of Irish and Vietnamese, while the residents of the western, central and parts of the southern sections of the neighbourhood are predominantly of African origin. Neponset (which is the southeast corner of the neighborhood), as well as the north side of Uphams Corner close to the South Boston border are predominantly Irish. Savin Hill as well as Fields Corner have large Vietnamese populations. Uphams Corner contains a very large Cape Verdean immigrant community and has the largest concetration of Cape Verdean residents within Boston city limits. Western, central and parts of southern Dorchester have a large West Indian population (especially people from Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago). They are most heavily represented in the Codman Square, Franklin Field and Ashmont areas, although there are also significant numbers of them in Four Corners and Fields Corner. Significant numbers of American-born blacks live in the Harbor Point, Uphams Corner, Fields Corner, Four Corners and Franklin Field areas. Latin-Americans represent 17% of Dorchester's population according to the U.S. Census, with significant numbers of them living in the Harbor Point, Fields Corner and Codman Square areas.

[edit] Transportation

The neighborhood is served by five stations on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Red Line (MBTA) rapid transit service, five stations on the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line, commuter rail lines, and various bus routes. Interstate 93 (which is also Route 3 and U.S. Route 1) runs north-south through Dorchester between Quincy, Massachusetts and downtown Boston, providing access to the eastern edge of Dorchester at Columbia Road, Morrissey Boulevard (northbound only), Neponset Circle (southbound only), and Granite Avenue (with additional southbound on-ramps at Freeport Street and from Morrissey Blvd at Neponset). Several other state routes traverse the neighborhood (e.g., Route 203, Gallivan Boulevard and Morton Street, and Route 28, Blue Hill Avenue (so named because it leads out of the city to the Blue Hills Reservation). The Neponset River separates Dorchester from Quincy and Milton. The "Dorchester Turnpike" (now "Dorchester Avenue") stretches from Fort Point Channel (now in South Boston) to Lower Mills, and once boasted a horse-drawn trolley.

[edit] History

In the summer of 1614, Captain John Smith, of Virginia fame, entered Boston Harbor and landed a boat with eight men on the Dorchester shore, at what was then a narrow peninsula known as Mattapan or Mattahunts, and today is known as South Boston. The town was founded at what is now the intersection of Columbia Road and Massachusetts Avenue in 1630 by settlers who arrived on the Mary and John ship. They gathered as a church in England and founded the town and the First Parish Church in Dorchester, which still exists as the Unitarian-Universalist church on Meetinghouse Hill and is the oldest religious organization in present day Boston. Columbia Point is home to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Boston College High School and the University of Massachusetts, Boston Campus.

In 1695, a party was dispatched to found the town of Dorchester, South Carolina, which would last barely a half-century before being abandoned.

America's first chocolate factory opened in Dorchester, in 1765, and the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory operated there until 1965. Dorchester (in a part of what is now South Boston) was also the site of the Battle of Dorchester Heights in 1776, which eventually resulted in the British evacuating Boston. Dorchester was annexed by Boston in pieces, beginning in 1804 and completed in 1870.

In Victorian times, Dorchester became a popular country retreat for Boston elite, and developed into a bedroom community, easily accessible to the city -- a streetcar suburb. The mother and grandparents of John F. Kennedy lived in the Ashmont Hill neighborhood while John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was mayor of Boston.

In 1953 Carney Hospital moved from South Boston to its current location in Dorchester serving the local communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, Milton and Quincy.

The oldest home in the City of Boston, the James Blake House, built in 1648, is located in Edward Everett Square, a few blocks from the Dorchester Historical Society.

In 1980, local punk band The Gremies released a single, "No Surfin in Dorchester Bay", which featured a band member trying to surf in the still waters of the bay, wearing a "Dorchester" T-shirt with a picture of a classic Boston "triple decker" house; several Dorchester and Boston landmarks are visible in the background, including the Prudential Tower, the John Hancock Tower and the Boston Gas tank. In 2004 punk band the Street Dogs named a song after the neighborhood, entitled "In Defense of Dorchester."

[edit] Education

Students in Dorchester are served by Boston Public Schools. The University of Massachusetts - Boston campus is located in the Harbor Point area of Dorchester.

[edit] Points of interest

[edit] Notable residents

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c (1963) Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 

[edit] Bibliography

  • Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, "Boston's South End", Images of America series, Arcadia Publishing, 1998.
  • Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, "Dorchester", Images of America series, Arcadia Publishing, 2000.
  • Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell, "Dorchester: Then & Now", Arcadia Publishing, 2005.

[edit] External links

Neighborhoods in Boston, Massachusetts

Allston/Brighton · Back Bay · Beacon Hill · Charlestown · Chinatown · Dorchester · Downtown Crossing · East Boston · Fenway-Kenmore · Government Center · Hyde Park · Jamaica Plain · Longwood · Mattapan · Mission Hill · North End · Roslindale · Roxbury · South Boston · South End · West End · West Roxbury

Coordinates: 42°17′50″N, 71°04′28″W

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