West End

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

City Hall sits on what used to be Scollay Square, once considered to be Boston’s skid row.

Most Bostonians know the location of the city’s West End from the two signs on Storrow Drive that read, “If you lived here, you’d be home now.”

Today, Charles River Park, in Boston’s West End, is a residential area of towering luxury apartment and condominium high-rise buildings with million dollar views. Bordered by Beacon Hill, the North End and the Charles River, it is a utopian dream of ‘60s suburbanism created with lots of open space and bookended by hospitals and government buildings.

It’s a vastly different world from the West End of bustling front stoops, crowded streets and neighborhood stores demolished by the city during urban renewal in 1958-1959.

But residents of the new West End are striving to be recognized by the city as a neighborhood just as residents of the old West End have struggled to keep the name, and the neighborhood’s memory alive.

Today the West End is not recognized by the city of Boston as a neighborhood, said Louise Thomas, president of the West End Civic Association. In fact, she does not even know how the city recognizes the area.

“We’ve pushed to have the West End recognized,” she said. “Recently the newspapers have begun to refer to the West End again.”

The Longfellow buildings are part of Charles River Park, built by developer, James Rappaport.

Another bid to raise the profile of the neighborhood is being made by Richard Drinkwater, a real estate professional with Otis & Ahern. Since urban renewal took place in the 1960s, the West End has been isolated and nearly non-existent, Drinkwater said.

A few years ago when the South End was being revitalized, the Back Bay station name was changed to Back Bay/South End. “That gave it recognition as a neighborhood,” Drinkwater said. The West End could likewise benefit from having a T station of its own, he said.

In his newsletter, Charles River Park, Drinkwater asked residents if they would like to change the name of the Science Park T stop, the main stop for the neighborhood, to Science Park/West End.

Drinkwater said many residents are in favor of the proposal. “Everyone is really taken with it,” he said.

He said he hopes to approach the MBTA within the next couple months.

Next: A Historic Past

Inside this story:

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

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Old West End
New West End

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