Overview & History
Chestnut Hill is an exclusive neighborhood that is partially in the tony suburb of Newton, the urban and sought-after town of Brookline, and Boston itself. It is best known as the location of Boston College’s campus. It was primarily agrarian until the 20th century. Because of the beauty and variety of the architecture of the 1850s-early 20th Century homes built by wealthy landowners in what was then considered remote from Boston, the neighborhood is designated as a National Landmark. Now it functions as a sought-after suburb of Boston.
Statistics of Chestnut Hill
Nearly 52% of adult residents have a graduate degree
The average annual household income is $177,000
Average household net worth is $1,046,705
Single Residence Homes of Chestnut Hill:
How Margie Would Get from Southie to Chestnut Hill:
Boston is notorious for arranging its public transportation in such a way that keeps less “desirable” populations (be it Irish, African American etc) isolated. Areas that are in close proximity can often take hours to reach by public transit because routes have been arranged to avoid connecting various neighborhoods.
According to the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s trip planner map, it would take Margie roughly an hour, four transfers (two busses and two T lines), and a half mile walk in order to travel from her home to Mikey’s.
South Boston is a neighborhood within Boston city limits famous for its close-knit Irish Catholic population and its elaborate Saint Patrick's Day parade. It is famous for notorious residents like gangster Whitey Bulger and has been immortalized as a hard scrabble, insular neighborhood by films like Good Will Hunting and The Departed. The area has traditionally been an populated by blue collar workers and their families, but is currently ungoing massive gentrification, raising the cost of living there drastically.
Irish Catholic immigrants began moving to Boston in large groups during the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s-50s. According to Susan Orlean of The New Yorker, Irish immigrants arrived in Boston at the height of a wave of anti-Catholic and Irish sentiment. Jobs, housing, and services were restricted to the newcomers who rapidly congregated in the South Boston neighborhood where they could find heavy industry jobs and later service work. According to her article The Outsiders South Boston’s physically isolated location only bolstered the community’s sense of insularity.
South Boston in the 1970s
South Boston, a predominantly working class Irish American neighborhood gained national attention in the 1970s and 80s as it became ground zero for Boston’s attempts at desegregation via busing students into different neighborhood school systems after a ruling from the MA District Court case Morgan v. Hennigan, a full decade after the federal court ruling Brown v The Board of Education. The local response to the busing was extremely violent. If Margie and Mikey are about 50 in 2010, they would have been young teenage students when busing began and would have borne witness to the conflict.
Growing Up In Southie in the ‘70s
Mikey is supposed to have grown up in the Old Harbor (also known as Old Colony) Projects famous by that time for being the childhood home of then notorious and extremely active South Boston gangster Whitey Bulger, his politician brother Billy, and Agent John Connolly, who although posing to the FBI as Bulger’s handler, was instrumental in the murders of the many potential informants who came to the FBI (although this would not become public knowledge for decades). The Old Harbor projects were the oldest government assisted housing in the city and had a reputation for being tough.
Columbia Point, Dorchester
Another Boston Neighborhood: Columbia Point
Columbia Point used to be a community of government subsidized housing in the Boston neighborhood of Dorchester. In recent years it has been rebranded and marketed as mixed-income housing marketing toward Univeristy of Massachusetts, Boston students.
The neighborhood where the boys Mikey fought as a teenager were from, Columbia Point Project was constructed in the 1950s on the edge of Dorchester Bay and became home to the first Community Health Center in 1965. By 1975 courts declared the Boston Housing Authority an “unfit landlord” to the already dilapidated community, according to The Globe’s Astead W. Herndon. Demographically, it was at that point primarily African American, which led to tensions with nearby South Boston—especially when “bussing” began.
The neighborhood became increasingly dangerous, eventually falling under the control of the notorious Columbia Point Dawgs gang. Cabs would not service the neighborhood in the 1970s and early ‘80s and firetrucks refused to enter the projects without a police escort.
Beginning in the mid-1980s the city launched an initiative to transition the area to “mixed rate” housing in part to accommodate the growing student community at nearby UMASS Boston. In this process, 17% of the tenants were evicted. Today the renamed Harbor Point apartments boast two swimming pools, a fitness center and various other amenities with a one bed, one bath apartment renting at $1950/mo.