Dorchester, Massachusetts

Dorchester, Massachusetts

Dorchester is a neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. It is named after the town of Dorchester in the English county of Dorset, from which Puritans emigrated. Dorchester, including a large portion of today's Boston, was separately incorporated in 1630. [ History of Dorchester, Massachusetts] ] It was still primarily rural and had a population of 12,000 when annexed to Boston in 1870. Railroad and streetcar lines brought rapid growth, increasing the population to 150,000 by 1920. It is now a large, diverse working class community with many European Americans, African Americans, Caribbean Americans, Latinos, and East and Southeast Asian Americans, and is still a center of Irish American immigration.


Dorchester is Boston's largest and most populous neighborhood. Due to its size of about six square miles, it is often divided for statistical purposes. North Dorchester includes the portion north of Quincy Street, East Street and Freeport Street. South Bay Center and Newmarket industrial area are major sources of employment. The main business district in this part of Dorchester is Uphams Corner, at the intersection of Dudley Street and Columbia Road. The Harbor Point area (formerly known as Columbia Point) is also the home of several large employers, including the Boston campus of the University of Massachusetts. The southern area of Dorchester is bordered to the east by Dorchester Bay and to the south by the Neponset River.

Dorchester Avenue is the major neighborhood spine, running in a south-north line through all of Dorchester from Lower Mills to downtown Boston. The southern part of Dorchester is primarily a residential area, with established neighborhoods still defined by parishes, and occupied by families for generations. Yet it continues to change, as best observed in the growth of its distinct commercial districts: Bowdoin/Geneva, Fields Corner, Codman Square, Peabody Square, Adams Village and Lower Mills. Other Dorchester neighborhoods include Savin Hill, Jones Hill, Four Corners, Franklin Field, Franklin Hill, Ashmont, Meeting House Hill, Neponset, Popes Hill and Port Norfolk.

The eastern areas of Dorchester (especially between Adams Street and Dorchester Bay) are primarily ethnic European and Asian, with a large population of Irish Americans and Vietnamese Americans, while the residents of the western, central and parts of the southern sections of the neighborhood are predominantly African Americans. In Neponset, the southeast corner of the neighborhood, as well as parts of Savin Hill in the north and Cedar Grove in the south, Irish Americans maintain the most visible identity. In the northern section of Dorchester and southwestern section of South Boston is the Polish Triangle, where recent Polish immigrants are residents. In recent years Dorchester has also seen an influx of young working professionals, working artists (in areas like Lower Mills, Peabody Square and Savin Hill).

Savin Hill, as well as Fields Corner, have large Vietnamese American populations. Uphams Corner contains a Cape Verdean American community, the largest concentration of people of Cape Verdean origin within Boston city limits. Western, central and parts of southern Dorchester have a large Caribbean population (especially people from Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad and Tobago). They are most heavily represented in the Codman Square, Franklin Field and the Ashmont area, although there are also significant numbers in Four Corners and Fields Corner. Significant numbers of African Americans live in the Harbor Point, Uphams Corner, Fields Corner, Four Corners and Franklin Field areas. Jones Hill, Savin Hill and Fields Corner have recently gentrified as gay men and young professionals have moved into these neighborhoods in order to evade high real estate prices in downtown neighborhoods such as the Back Bay and South End.


As of 2000 the population of Dorchester was 92,115 and the ethnic makeup was 32% White alone, 36% African American or Black, 12% Hispanic or Latino, 11% Asian or Pacific Islander, <1% Native American, 4% some other race, 5% two or more races. []


The neighborhood is served by five stations on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Red Line (MBTA) rapid transit service, five stations on the Ashmont-Mattapan High Speed Line, commuter rail lines, and various bus routes. Interstate 93 (which is also Route 3 and U.S. 1) runs north-south through Dorchester between Quincy, Massachusetts and downtown Boston, providing access to the eastern edge of Dorchester at Columbia Road, Morrissey Boulevard (northbound only), Neponset Circle (southbound only), and Granite Avenue (with additional southbound on-ramps at Freeport Street and from Morrissey Blvd at Neponset). Several other state routes traverse the neighborhood (e.g., Route 203, Gallivan Boulevard and Morton Street, and Route 28, Blue Hill Avenue (so named because it leads out of the city to the Blue Hills Reservation). The Neponset River separates Dorchester from Quincy and Milton. The "Dorchester Turnpike" (now "Dorchester Avenue") stretches from Fort Point Channel (now in South Boston) to Lower Mills, and once boasted a horse-drawn streetcar.


In the summer of 1614, Captain John Smith entered Boston Harbor and landed a boat with eight men on the Dorchester shore, at what was then a narrow peninsula known as Mattapan or Mattahunts, and today is known as South Boston. The town was founded at what is now the intersection of Columbia Road and Massachusetts Avenue in 1630 by settlers who arrived on the ship "Mary and John" (even though it was annexed over 100 years ago into the city of Boston, this founding is still celebrated every year on Dorchester Day, which includes festivities and a parade down Dorchester Avenue). Most of the early Dorchester settlers came from the West Country of England, and some from Dorchester, Dorset, where the Rev. John White was chief proponent of a Puritan settlement in the New World. [ [ John White, A Founder of Massachusetts, Rev. Arthur Ackerman, Dorchester Atheneum,] ] (Rev. John White has been referred to as the unheralded champion of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, because despite his heroic efforts on its behalf, he remained in England and never emigrated to the Colony he championed.)

They gathered as a church in England and founded the town and the First Parish Church of Dorchester, which still exists as the Unitarian-Universalist church on Meetinghouse Hill and is the oldest religious organization in present-day Boston. Columbia Point is home to the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Boston College High School and the University of Massachusetts, Boston Campus.

Dorchester is the birthplace of the first public elementary school in America, the Mather School, established in 1639. [ [ Notable Events in Massachusetts] ] The school still stands as the oldest elementary school in America. [ [ Mather Elementary School] ]

In 1695, a party was dispatched to found the town of Dorchester, South Carolina, which would last barely a half-century before being abandoned.

America's first chocolate factory opened at Dorchester in 1765, and the Walter Baker Chocolate Factory operated until 1965. Dorchester (in a part of what is now South Boston) was also the site of the Battle of Dorchester Heights in 1776, which eventually resulted in the British evacuating Boston.

Dorchester was annexed by Boston in pieces, beginning on March 6, 1804 and ending on January 3, 1870, following a plebiscite held in Boston and Dorchester the previous June 22.Clarifyme|date=March 2008 Dorchester Heights is now considered part of South Boston, not modern-day Dorchester. Additional parts of Dorchester went to Quincy (in 1792, 1814, 1819, and 1855) and the now-annexed town of Hyde Park (1868); the new towns of Milton (1662) and Stoughton (1726) were entirely carved out of Dorchester.

In Victorian times, Dorchester became a popular country retreat for Boston elite, and developed into a bedroom community, easily accessible to the city -- a streetcar suburb. The mother and grandparents of John F. Kennedy lived in the Ashmont Hill neighborhood while John F. "Honey Fitz" Fitzgerald was mayor of Boston.

In 1953, Carney Hospital moved from South Boston to its current location in Dorchester, serving the local communities of Dorchester, Mattapan, Milton and Quincy.

Also in 1953, the Columbia Point public housing projects were completed on the Dorchester peninsula. There were 1,502 units in the development on 50 acres of land.

The first community health center in the United States was the Columbia Point Health Center in Dorchester. It was opened in December 1965 and served mostly the massive Columbia Point public housing complex adjoining it. It was founded by two medical doctors, Jack Geiger of Harvard University and Count Gibson of Tufts University. It is still in operation and was rededicated in 1990 as the Geiger-Gibson Community Health Center. [ Roessner, Jane. "A Decent Place to Live: from Columbia Point to Harbor Point - A Community History", Boston: Northeastern University Press, c2000. Cf. p.80, "The Columbia Point Health Center: The First Community Health Center in the Country".]

The Columbia Point housing complex went through bad times eventually, until there were only 350 families living in it in 1988. It was run down and dangerous.

In 1984, the city of Boston gave control of it to a private developer, Corcoran-Mullins-Jennison, who re-developed and re-vitalised the property into a beautiful residential mixed-income community called Harbor Point Apartments which was opened in 1988 and completed by 1990. It is a very significant example of revitalisation and redevelopment and was the first federal housing project to be converted to private, mixed-income housing in the USA. Harbor Point has won much acclaim for this transformation, including awards from the Urban Land Institute, the FIABCI Award for International Excellence, and the Rudy Bruner Award. [Kamin, Blair. [ "Rethinking Public Housing"] , Blueprints magazine, Summer 1997, p.4, National Building Museum, Washington D.C.] [ Roessner, Jane. [ "A Decent Place to Live: From Columbia Point to Harbor Point"] , Boston, Northeastern University Press, 2000.] [ [ "Boston War Zone Becomes Public Housing Dream"] , The New York Times, November 23, 1991.]

The oldest surviving home in the city of Boston, the James Blake House, is located at Edward Everett Square, a few blocks from the Dorchester Historical Society. Although unconfirmed by radiocarbon dating, its year of construction is conjectured as 1648, 1661 or 1680.

A number of the earliest streets in Dorchester have changed names several times through the centuries, meaning that some names have come and gone. Leavitt Place, for instance, named for one of Dorchester's earliest settlers, eventually became Brook Court, and then Brook Avenue Place. [ [ A Record of the Streets, Alleys, Places, Etc. in the City of Boston, Street Laying-Out Dept., Boston, Mass., City of Boston Printing Dept., 1910] ]


Primary and secondary schools

Parochial schools

* Boston College High School, 7-12
* Elizabeth Seton Academy, 9-12
* St. Ann Elementary School, K-8
* St. Brendan School, K-8
* St. Gregory Elementary School, K-8
* St. Kevin School, - closing in 08, K-8
* St. Mark School, K-8
* St. Matthew School, K-8
* St. Peter Elementary School, K-8
* St. Margaret Elementary School, K-8
* St. Ambrose School - closed, K-8

Public schools

Students in Dorchester are served by Boston Public Schools.

* Boston Collegiate Charter School, grades 6-12
* Boston Latin Academy, 7-12
* Jeremiah E. Burke High School, 9-12
* Codman Academy Charter School, 9-12
* Dorchester High School, 10-12
* Edward Everett Elementary School, K1-5
* Lilla Frederick Pilot Middle School, 6-8
* Thomas J. Kenney Elementary School, K-5
* The Mather Elementary School, K-6
* Richard J. Murphy Elementary School, K1-8
* Neighborhood Charter School, K-8
* Patrick O'Hearn Elementary School, K-5
* Smith Leadership Academy Charter School, 5-8
* Lucy Stone School, K-5
* Uphams Corner Charter School, 5-8
* Woodrow Wilson Middle School, 6-8
* John W. McCormack School, 6-8

Colleges and universities

The University of Massachusetts Boston campus is located in the Harbor Point area of Dorchester.

ites of interest

* [ Bayside Expo & Conference Center]
* James Blake House
* Captain Lemuel Clap House
* William Clapp House
* First Parish Church of Dorchester
* Franklin Park Zoo
* John F. Kennedy Library and Museum
* [ Neponset River State Reservation]
* William Monroe Trotter House

Notable residents

* Charles Baker Adams (1814-1853) - Born in Dorchester, noted academic and naturalistcite book | title = Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896 | publisher = Marquis Who's Who | location = Chicago | date = 1963]
* William Taylor Adams (1822-1897) - Wrote fiction under the pseudonym "Oliver Optic" and served on the School Board of Dorchester.
* Sheldon Adelson - born in Dorchester; the 3rd richest person in the country and 6th richest person in the world.
* Akrobatik (a.k.a Jared Bridgeman) - Hip hop artist. Born/raised in Dorchester.
* James J. Bulger - Irish American crime boss and one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives.
* Samuel Turell Armstrong (1784-1850) - Born in Dorchester, Governor of Massachusetts
* Ray Bolger - American actor. "Scarecrow" in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz
* Edwin Booth - 19th century actor and brother of John Wilkes Booth. Lived in Dorchester for a few months in the 1860s.
* William J. Bratton - former police commissioner of Boston and New York City. LAPD's 54th Police Chief. Born and raised in Dorchester.
* Herb Chambers - Born and raised in Dorchester. Owner and CEO of Herb Chambers Companies.
* Richard A. Clarke (1951- ) - Counter-terrorism expert.
* James Bryant Conant(1893-1978) - President of Harvard University, 1933-1953.
* Clarence Cook - Born in Dorchester. 19th century art critic and writer. [The New York Times, June 3, 1900: "Clarence Cook Dead".]
* Calvin Davis - athlete, 1996 Summer Olympics 400 meters bronze medalist
* Mark D. Devlin - Author of "Stubborn Child" (ISBN 0-6891-1476-1)
* Edward Everett - Orator and statesman whose speech preceded Abraham Lincoln's at Gettysburg
* Thomas Finneran - Former Speaker of the House, State of Massachusetts. Convicted felon (perjury and obstruction of justice), 2007.
* John Foster (1648-1681) - The earliest engraver in what is now the United States. The first printer in Boston, he set up a printing press in 1675. Also a teacher, painter, and fiddle player.
* Elliott Francis - Television news anchor, journalist.
* Kay Hanley - Music singer and songwriter. Former singer of Letters To Cleo
* Mike Gorman - Born and raised in Dorchester; American sports commentator for the Boston Celtics' television broadcasts
* Childe Hassam (1859-1935) - American Impressionist painter raised in Dorchester.
* Robert Ball Hughes - sculptor
* Rose Kennedy née Fitzgerald - matriarch of the Kennedy family was raised in the Ashmont Hill section of Dorchester, Massachusetts. The house itself later was destroyed by fire but a plaque was erected on the site.
* Jonathan Knight - member of New Kids on the Block, brother of Jordan Knight (see below)
* Jordan Knight - lead singer of the 80s-90s original boy band, New Kids on the Block
* Dennis Lehane - writer
* Cotton Mather - Puritan minister, prolific author, and pamphleteer. Influential in the Salem Witch Trials; son of Increase Mather.
* Increase Mather - Puritan minister involved in the Salem Witch Trials. Son of Richard Mather (see below).
* Richard Mather - Puritan minister and Pastor of Dorchester until his death in 1669
* Kevin McBride - Boxer.
* Chris McCarron - American thoroughbred horse racing Hall of Fame jockey from 1974-2002.
* Mike McColgan - Lead singer and founding member of the punk rock band Street Dogs, former lead singer of Dropkick Murphys.
* John W. McCormack - Speaker of the US House of Representatives.
* Leonard Nimoy- American actor. "Mr. Spock" of Star Trek.
* Lawrence O'Donnell Jr. - Emmy Award-winning television producer and writer, television political commentator, and former Democratic Chief of Staff of the US Senate Committee on Finance and the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.
* Status Quo - Hip hop dance crew featured on MTV's "America's Best Dance Crew."
* Lucy Stone- Women's rights activist and first woman to keep her last name at marriage.
* William Stoughton - Chief Justice at Salem witch trials, later Governor.
* Donna Summer - Grammy Award-winning American singer and songwriter.
* Edmund C. Tarbell (1862-1938) - Painter; principal of Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. Lived at 24 Alban Street.
* William Monroe Trotter - Co-founder of Boston Guardian newspaper; political activist; first black person awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key (Harvard 1895).
* Mark Wahlberg - Academy Award-nominated actor and television producer. Also had a brief stint as rapper "Marky Mark". Born and raised in Dorchester.
* Donnie Wahlberg - American actor and producer. Former member of boy band New Kids on the Block. Born and raised in Dorchester.
* Daniel Webster - Leading American statesman during the nation's antebellum era. Lived in Dorchester for a short time.
* Danny Wood - Former member of original boy band New Kids on the Block.



* Clapp, Ebenezer. [,M1 History of the Town of Dorchester, Massachusetts.] Published in 1859.

* Glover, Anna. [,M1 Glover Memorials and Genealogies: An Account of John Glover Of Dorchester and Some of his Descendants.] Published 1867.

* Orcutt, William Dana. [,M1 Good Old Dorchester: A Narrative History of the Town, 1630-1893.] Published 1893.

* The Vital Records of Dorchester (Births, Marriages, and Deaths) to 1825 were published in 1890 as the [ 21st Report of the Records Commissioners of Boston.]

* Dutton, E.P. [ Chart of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay with Map of Adjacent Country.] Published 1867. A good map of roads and rail lines around Dorchester. Note the Horse RailRoad on Dorchester Ave.
* [ Old USGS Maps of Boston and Dorchester area.] See the 1903 southeaster corner map.


* Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell.
** "Boston's South End", Images of America series, Arcadia Publishing, 1998.
** "Dorchester", Images of America series, Arcadia Publishing, 2000.
** "Dorchester: Then & Now", Arcadia Publishing, 2005.

External links

* [ Battle of Dorchester Heights in DotNews]
* [ Dorchester Community Website]
* [ History of Dorchester in DotNews]
* [ Dorchester Historical Society]
* [ Colonel Daniel Marr Boys and Girls Club]
* [ Uphams Corner Charter School]
* [ First Parish Church in Dorchester]
* [ Caritas Carney Hospital]
* [ Dorchester Atheneum] - Dorchester history
* [ Map of Dorchester section of Boston] - Open Space Plan, City of Boston
* [ Dorchester maps by City of Boston]
* [ Dorchester Community Website]

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