End residents struggle to raise neighborhood’s
A historic past
Joyce Grazian is a longtime resident of Charles River Park.
Her father was one of the first residents to move into the
In the late 1950s, the old West End was demolished by city planners
in the name of urban renewal to make way for luxury, high-rise
apartments and government buildings. The city targeted the West
End as a slum and forced out 7,000 residents, largely poor, blue-collar
workers, who were powerless against City Hall.
One of the first projects run by the Boston Redevelopment Authority,
a city organization of planners and developers overseen only by
the mayor, the project is now widely recognized as one of the worst
examples of urban renewal the nation has ever seen.
Once the neighborhood was razed, Jerome Rappaport, Sr., a politically
connected developer, built Charles River Park into a campus of
high-rise apartment buildings with rents the former residents could
not hope to afford. The buildings went up slowly over the decade
of the 1960s.
Lapointe moved to the old West End in his thirties.
Today, Charles River Park has around 3,000 residents.
Much of the West End was eaten up by government buildings. Bowdoin
Square was absorbed into Beacon Hill. The name, the West End,
was no longer recognized by the city.
Rappaport remained the sole property owner of Charles River Park
until 1999 when he sold it. During that time the development had
no community oversight. Meanwhile, old West Enders, though scattered
throughout the city and region, remained loyal to the neighborhood.
Old Loyalties Survive