End residents struggle to raise neighborhood’s
A new West End emerges
In 1999, Rappaport sold his Charles River Park properties.
At the time, a group of concerned residents formed the Civic Association
to protect the neighborhood and voted to use the West End for its
name, said Thomas.
“Everybody knows the West End,” Thomas said. “And
there’s no reason to change the name.”
Charles River Park today is largely made up of professional, college-educated
adults, according to the 2000 census data. Less than half the population
is families and at least a third are single. The majority of the
units are rentals. Some subsidized units and have been built into
the park, so a small number of low-to moderate-income residents
live there. A building for retired people was also built in the
1970s, so there is a significant population of older people too.
Carol Macleod who lives in Whittier Place, one of the condominiums
in Charles River Park, said she loves living here because she likes
to go for long walks along the river bank.
Macleod said that although the area has a number of young children,
couples with school-aged children tend to move to the suburbs because
public schools are non-existent in the neighborhood and surrounding
One challenge that the Civic Association faces is that the neighbors
do not have a strong showing in local elections. Another challenge
the Civic Association is particularly concerned with is the growth
of the neighborhood.
When Rappaport owned Charles River Park, he did not allow anything
new to be built beyond the area he and the city agreed on in 1957,
Thomas said. But now a number of different companies own property,
and Mayor Menino wants more housing to be built throughout the
city, so plans are being drawn up for new buildings to fill in
some of the open space, Thomas said.
critics describe Charles River Park as a cold, sterile environment
that doesn’t fit in with the
rest of Boston, residents who live there like the open space.
“We kind of feel they’re running roughshod over
the West End again.”
– Louise Thomas
Residential, a Chicago-based rental company that owns the Longfellow
and the Emerson apartment buildings
in Charles River
Park, has plans to put up new buildings. One of them would block
the Emerson’s view of the Charles, Thomas said.
The Equity building is planned to be 16 stories, but the Civic
Association does not want any new buildings higher than eight stories
and no secondary buildings higher than the tree line to be built
in the park, said Paul Schratter, a resident and member of the
Civic Association. But Equity has the support of the mayor and
the BRA, Thomas said.
This time, however, as a new generation of West End neighbors
prepare to fight for their neighborhood against the designs of
development companies and city planners, they have a strong community
group prepared to stand up to City Hall.
“We kind of feel they’re running roughshod over the
West End again,” Thomas said.
The BRA did not return messages left in person at their office
and were not available for comment.
Whether or not history will repeat itself remains to be seen.