West End

West End residents struggle to raise neighborhood’s profile
By Vivienne Belmont

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 Hawthorne.

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.

Ray 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.

Next: Old Loyalties Survive

Inside this story:

West End Home
1. A Historic Past
2. Old Loyalties Survive
3. A New West End Emerges

Photo Gallery
Old West End
New West End

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West End History


 

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