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Chinatown/South Cove

Home > Boston's Neighborhoods > Chinatown/South Cove

Learn more about your ancestor's neighborhood through the timeline, find more information in the Further Reading section, or use the links to experience life in that community today.

Timeline

  • 1700-1805: Area to be known as the South Cove/Chinatown neighborhood consists of tidal flats.
  • 1761: Phillis Wheatley is brought to America at the age of eight. She begins writing poetry at the age of 13 and publishes Poems on Various Subjects: Religious and Moral (1773) in England. She is bought by the Wheatley family at the dock on what is now Beach Street in Chinatown.
  • 1805: Landfill project begins along Fort Point Channel from Washington Street to Harrison Ave.
  • 1835-1845: Second landfill project fills from Harrison Ave. east to Albany Street.
  • 1835-1850: Home of middle income White Americans.
  • 1845-1848: Irish settle in South Cove in great numbers. The center of their community is St. James Church on Albany Street (later moved to Harrison Ave).
  • 1847: Boston architect, Gridley J. F. Bryant, who later designed Old City Hall, designs The Quincy School. The Quincy School, named after Mayor Josiah Quincy, is the first graded middle school in the country.
  • 1850s: Area becomes home to the leather and garment industries. Middle class Yankees move out in the 1860s-1890s, Irish, then Jews and Arabs, primarily Christian Syrians, move in.
  • 1885: The first Chinese move into Oliver Place (Ping On Alley) among resident Syrians. Chinese work for the New England Telephone Company on 50 Pearl Street and live on Beach Street, Oxford Place, and Harrison Ave.
  • 1890: Approximately 200 Chinese are in Chinatown. The Chinese Monthly News begins publication.
  • 1896: Syrians primarily in Oliver Place, Chinese Harrison Ave, Jews and Irish south of Kneeland Street, Blacks in Oak Street near the railroad.
  • 1899: Construction of Boston Elevated Railroad pushes Chinese south to Tyler and Hudson Streets.
  • 1900: White immigrants groups move out, Chinese move in.
  • 1924: Jewish businessmen establish multi-story garment shops along Kneeland Street. Prior to WWII, the employees were mostly Irish and Italian women. After the war, Chinese women dominate.
  • 1935: Chinese inhabit roughly the area of today's Chinatown.
  • 1938: The interior blocks of Harrison Ave and Tyler Street are cleared to create parking.
  • 1950s: Chinatown expands south of Kneeland Street displacing the former Irish, Syrian, and Jewish populations.
  • 1952: Chinese Merchants Association Building is constructed at Hudson and Kneeland Streets.
  • 1955: After the Mass Pike Extension is constructed, many Chinese are displaced and begin moving either to the South End or into the suburbs of Allston-Brighton, Brookline, Roxbury, and Dorchester.
  • 1956: Central Artery cuts through Albany Street.
  • 1970: Chinatown Little City Hall founded. There are now 1,900 in Chinatown.
  • 1993: The first bank to be owned and operated by Asian Americans in Boston, The Asian American Bank, opens on Kneeland St.

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