The Neighborhood as a Membrane & Conclusion

The busiest intersection in Dorchester Heights is a quiet one. It allows people from many walks of life to cross paths.

Homes in Dorchester Heights

Old colonial-style homes dominate Dorchester Heights and were primarily the residences of the upper class in South Boston.

Besides Thomas Park and South Boston High, two huge public spaces which dominate Dorchester Heights, the Heights is surrounded by a residential neighborhood. In fact, to many Southie residents who don't use the park to walk their dogs or don't have children that attend Excel School, Dorchester Heights is first and foremost a neighborhood.

The busiest intersection in Dorchester Heights is the five-way cluster of Telegraph St., Old Harbor St., and Thomas Park. Like much of Boston's layout, at this intersection the streets are not well-planned and not necessarily efficient. Boston's history again shows itself in the present through its narrow and winding streets, remants of old cowpaths. Despite the lack of logic at this intersection, though, people from all walks of life cross paths here. A short period of observation will see upper-class Dorchester Heights residents walk past junkies and vice versa. Dog-walkers pass the cross country team on a run from the nearby Catholic high school, Boston College High, and working-class carpenters mingle with teachers from South Boston High on their way home from work. Cars, scooters, trucks, and bicycles share the road.

After watching this intersection for sometime, there is a real sense of the commingling of different walks of life and the departure from Friedrich Engels' description of Manchester. Engels painted a verbal picture of Manchester, emphasizing the fact that the upper class designed the city so that they would never have to see the squalor of the working class. He speaks of the "outspoken conscious determination [that] the working-people's quarters are sharply separated from the sections of the city reserved for the middle-class" (1).

A walk through Dorchester Heights shows how integrated Dorchester Heights is within Southie and its working-class culture. South Boston does not follow the mold of Manchester. While there are clear racial delineations in South Boston, it seems as if the boundaries of class lines are more fluid. Southie residents were traditionally Irish and working-class. If you fit this mold, whether you were a Kennedy or living in the projects, you were considered part of the neighborhood.

The streets of Dorchester Heights are filled with celebrated history and wisdom. Every year on March 17th, residents celebrate Evacuation Day in honor of the British evacuation as the result of Dorchester Heights' occupation. Due to the Irish majority, this holiday and celebration has become entwined with St. Patricks Day and the residents of Southie celebrate in the streets accordingly. This event is a similarity that all South Boston residents can share and serves as a focal point of community in the neighborhood.

Another major similarity, touched on before, is the importance of faith to the history of South Boston. The Catholic neighborhood of Southie calls upon prayers and Irish proverbs to inform its cultural history. These pieces of wisdom adorn the streets of Dorchester Heights if you look hard enough. Many of the houses, in fact, have stone carvings or etchings with Catholic or Irish sayings. One etching which really stands out borrows a proverb from Ecclesiastes in the Bible and echoes the South Boston down-to-earth mentality.

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The streets of Dorchester Heights, a neighborhood at the top of the hill primarily constituted of upper class white residents, serves as an interesting and unexpected melting pot of class and culture. It boils the rich tradition and history of Southie down to its essence and presents it to the traveler who likely visited for its Revolutionary War signifiance. The neighborhood is separated from the busiest parts of Boston and the residents like it that way; the neighborhood of Dorchester Heights seems like an island of an old Boston of yesterday amidst a sea of change and gentrification.

The island of Dorchester Heights memorializes the rich history that took place at the site. The history of Boston lays itself out for the traveler to see and learn from; the neighborhood truly acts as a pallimpsest for the discerning visitor. The Heights are able to be such an accurate and careful record of the past for the reason that they are open to all members of the neighborhood. Walls and barriers do not separate Dorchester Heights from the poorer parts of South Boston and this membrane allows for an influx of ideas and thoughts which force the neighborhood to be cognizant of its past rather than memorializing the good aspects and destroying all evidence of the bad.

 
(1) Engels, Friedrich. "Great Towns," Blackwell City Reader, pp. 11.

The streets of Dorchester Heights are filled with celebrated history and wisdom. Every year on March 17th, residents celebrate Evacuation Day in honor of the British evacuation as the result of Dorchester Heights' occupation. Due to the Irish majority, this holiday and celebration has become entwined with St. Patricks Day and the residents of Southie celebrate in the streets accordingly. This event is a similarity that all South Boston residents can share and serves as a focal point of community in the neighborhood.

Another major similarity, touched on before, is the importance of faith to the history of South Boston. The Catholic neighborhood of Southie calls upon prayers and Irish proverbs to inform its cultural history. These pieces of wisdom adorn the streets of Dorchester Heights if you look hard enough. Many of the houses, in fact, have stone carvings or etchings with Catholic or Irish sayings. One etching which really stands out borrows a proverb from Ecclesiastes in the Bible and echoes the South Boston down-to-earth mentality.

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The streets of Dorchester Heights, a neighborhood at the top of the hill primarily constituted of upper class white residents, serves as an interesting and unexpected melting pot of class and culture. It boils the rich tradition and history of Southie down to its essence and presents it to the traveler who likely visited for its Revolutionary War signifiance. The neighborhood is separated from the busiest parts of Boston and the residents like it that way; the neighborhood of Dorchester Heights seems like an island of an old Boston of yesterday amidst a sea of change and gentrification.

The island of Dorchester Heights memorializes the rich history that took place at the site. The history of Boston lays itself out for the traveler to see and learn from; the neighborhood truly acts as a pallimpsest for the discerning visitor. The Heights are able to be such an accurate and careful record of the past for the reason that they are open to all members of the neighborhood. Walls and barriers do not separate Dorchester Heights from the poorer parts of South Boston and this membrane allows for an influx of ideas and thoughts which force the neighborhood to be cognizant of its past rather than memorializing the good aspects and destroying all evidence of the bad.

 
(1) Engels, Friedrich. "Great Towns," Blackwell City Reader, pp. 11.