Home > Boston's Neighborhoods
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
- 1600-1650: Mattapan is the original Native American Mattahunt
tribe name for the Dorchester area. The earliest development
was around present day Mattapan Square and Babson
- 1650-1850: Mattapan is part of Dorchester.
- 1855: The Midlands Railroad comes through town.
- 1870: Dorchester is annexed to Boston after a vote of 928 to
726. Mattapan becomes part of Boston.
- 1874: The Municipal Building is at Field's Corner. Mattapan,
the original Native American name for the area, is
given to the southwest section of Dorchester. There
is no formal political demarcation line as it is a
neighborhood, not a political entity.
- 1886: The Church of the Holy Spirit is built on River Street.
- 1893: Trolley service begins and spurs a period of intense
construction along Blue Hill Ave and in Wellington
Hill (Morton Street on north, Blue Hill Ave on east,
Walk Hill and Almont Streets on the south, Boston
State Hospital/American Legion Highway on the west).
Mattapan becomes a "streetcar suburb." Many
immigrants, especially Irish, move into Mattapan.
The Chelsea fire causes many Jews to move south into
- 1920-1940: Jews continue moving into Mattapan as two family
homes are built in the Mattapan Square area (present-day
Cummins Highway, Blue Hill Avenue, and River Street).
Blue Hill Avenue become the center of Jewish working
class Boston culture. The area near Gallivan Boulevard,
Morton Street and Mattapan Square are the commercial
centers of the neighborhood.
- 1930: The Mattapan Chronic Disease Hospital is completed after
20 years of construction.
Mattapan Trolley gets twelve new cars. It runs
2.55 miles from Ashmont to Mattapan. As late as 1993,
7,000 passengers a day use the trolley.
South Mattapan develops gradually with single-family
homes on large lots. The two areas that develop are
Western Mattapan (Harvard Street on west, Almont Street
to Blue Hill Ave on north, Neponset River on east,
Greenfield Street on south) and Eastern Mattapan (Penn
Central railroad on north, Blue Hill Ave on west,
Neponset River on south, Morton and Maryknoll Streets
on east). Western Mattapan is one of the newest areas
of Boston and most buildings are less than forty years
old. Eastern Mattapan, in contrast, has an ethnically
diverse population of Irish, Jews, and blacks.
The Census records the population of Mattapan
and the Franklin Field area northwest of Mattapan
at 44,520 and 5.6% of Boston's total population.
- 1960-1975: Many Jews leave Mattapan. Boston Banks set up Boston
Bank Urban Renewal Group (BBURG) area in the wake
of Martin Luther King, Jr's assassination, in an effort
to help African-Americans who do not own homes to
buy them as a way of quelling social unrest. African-Americans
begin moving into Mattapan. Middle class African-Americans
move into Wellington Hill and Mattapan Square area.
As blacks move into Mattapan, some families settle
in the Blue Hill/Norfolk area (Blue Hill Ave on west,
Morton Street on north, Penn Central railroad on east
Community gardens open on the Boston State Hospital
The Census has 20,637 people in Mattapan with
5,129 Blacks. The racial make-up of Mattapan has changed
greatly in the last decade; the percentage of black
residents has gone up 48%.
Two public housing projects are built in Eastern
Mattapan: an elderly development on River Street and
Haitians settle in the Dorchester and Mattapan
sections of Boston.
Horizons provides six units for housing endangered
(battered) women and the Massachusetts Department
of Housing and Community Development spends $83,000
for Horizons II with 11 units.
The Mattapan population is 19,585 and 3.4% of
the total Boston population. It has the second highest
minority percentage of the Boston neighborhoods: 89.2%
Black, 5.4% White, 4.5% Latino, and .6% Asian. The
median income is slightly above the Boston average,
except for single mothers with children have a significantly
lower than average income. The entire population of
Mattapan, especially in the Blue Hill/Norfolk area,
is much younger than the rest of Boston.
Another wave of Haitian immigrants move into
Dorchester and then Mattapan after the ousting of
Mattapan resident NT Izuchi, who emigrated from
Nigeria in 1976, starts the Igbo Organization of New
England. In 1999, the Organization estimates that
15-20,000 Ibgo live in New England and that there
are 30,000 Nigerians in the region.
- 1995-1999: Mayor Thomas Menino's Blue Hill Avenue Project
helps to revive business along Blue Hill Avenue into
- 1996: Thomas Finneran (D-Mattapan) is elected the 83rd Speaker
of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
- 1999: The Boston Globe reports that the largest concentration
of Haitians in Massachusetts, 70-120,00 people, live
in Mattapan. For example, St. Angela's parochial school
in Mattapan is 71% Haitian.
- Ginsberg, Yona. Jews in a Changing Neighborhood: The Study of Mattapan.
New York: Free Press, 1975.
- Mattapan: District Profile and Proposed 1978-1980 Neighborhood Improvement
Project. Boston: Boston Redevelopment Authority
Neighborhood Planning Program, Summer 1977.
- Mattapan: Neighborhood Profile 1988. Boston: Boston Redevelopment
Authority Neighborhood Planning Program, 1988.