> Boston's Neighborhoods
> South Boston
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David Thompson founds a trading post on Thompson's
Thompson Island is made part of Dorchester. The town
immediately taxes their new island neighborhoods and
uses the money to establish the town's first school,
the Mather School, under Reverend Thomas Waterhouse.
At the same time, a fort is constructed on Castle
Prior to this date, Dorchester Neck (known as "Mattapannock"
by the Native Americans) is used by Dorchester settlers
to graze animals. Telegraph Hill (Broadway and F Street)
is home to a quarry. Native Americans have fishing
rights at Powow Point (L Street Beach). Access to
Dorchester Neck is via Native American paths that
follow today's Dorchester and Emerson Streets. At
this time, 100 citizens from Dorchester are given
pasture rights on Dorchester Neck (today South Boston).
The lands of Dorchester Neck are laid out.
Captain Hepstill James Foster builds the first residential
dwelling on Dorchester Neck (as opposed to the original
settlements at "Mattapan") at Leek Hill
(Today 2nd and Dorchester Streets).
James Blake builds the second house in Dorchester
Neck near Five Corners (Emerson Street and Broadway).
Today, the house has been moved to Dorchester where
it is the home of the Dorchester
Three families live on Dorchester Neck.
There are seven houses on Dorchester Neck, belonging
to James Blake, Benjamin Bird, James Foster, Oliver
Wiswell Jr., and Richard Withington.
Stamps were held at Fort William, Castle Island after
the British pass the Stamp Act that imposed a tax
on deeds, property mortgages, playing cards, newspapers,
college diplomas, etc. All of these colonial papers
had to bear a stamp indicating that taxes had been
paid on them to the English Crown. The Stamp Act infuriated
the colonists who resented "taxation without
representation." The colonists felt that their
own local governments should have exclusive rights
to tax the people since only these governments drew
representatives from the American population.
12 families live on Dorchester Neck in 9 dwellings.
Residents leave the area in case the British occupy
February 14, British troops sweep through Dorchester
Neck burning everything. By March, the colonials have
fortified the hills under the direction of General
Thomas and set up batteries on the waterfront. When
the British evacuate Boston on March 17, they burn
Paul Revere commands Castle Island.
Castle Island is converted into a prison community.
Castle Island becomes property of the federal government.
The United States Public Health Service's first hospital
is built on the island.
President John Adams orders the construction of Fort
Independence (1801-1803), the seventh fort constructed
on the island.
Boston annexes Dorchester Neck (and its 60 families)
under heavy opposition from the town of Dorchester.
The original boundary runs along 9th Street and the
area's name is changed to South Boston.
Mather Withington and Stephen Badlam survey and lay
out the streets of Dorchester Neck in a grid-like
The 1,500 feet South Bridge is completed from Boston
to Dorchester Neck to act as a Toll Road (4th Street-Dover
Irish immigrant Thomas Murray is the first Catholic
undertaker in the neighborhood.
Thomas Cain pioneers flint and round glass manufacturing
(in the United States) from his factory on B and Second
Cyrus Alger's Iron Foundry on Dorchester Avenue (founded
in 1809) supplies the United States with cannon balls
during the War of 1812 and later the Civil War. His
factory dominates the industrial life of South Boston
and becomes the largest foundry in the country by
1850. The Iron Foundry builds the first rifle-cannon
in 1834, the first malleable iron cannon in 1836,
and improves time fuses for spherical shells. Alger
is also is active in town politics.
During the War of 1812, troops are stationed on D
Street and Dorchester Heights is fortified.
St. Augustine's Chapel is the first gothic style Catholic
Church in Boston.
Lot Wheelwright starts the first ship building company
on Dorchester Street.
Noah Brooks founds a shipyard on F Street.
The Hawes School is built on Broadway Street.
Mayor Josiah Quincy installs a poorhouse, insane asylum,
juvenile detention house, and prison in South Boston
leading residents to feel that the neighborhood is
the "dumping ground of the city."
The Boston Beer Company is founded on D and Second
Opening of the North Free (renamed Federal Street
Bridge in 1856) Bridge.
An omnibus route is created from Boston along Broadway.
The South Baptist Church is founded on Broadway Street.
The Broadway Universalist Church is built upon Pill
Hill and The Mount Washington Female Academy is founded.
Boston Wharf Company is founded to reclaim mudflats.
In 1855, the company creates the Commonwealth Lands
by filling part of the harbor.
The Pulaski Guards are located on C Street and Broadway.
Their first leader is Colonel J.L.C. Amee. They later
were an important part of Colonel Robert Codwin's
1st Massachusetts Regiment during the Civil War.
The Mount Washington Hotel is built on Broadway Street.
Later, the resort hotel goes bankrupt and the Perkins
School for the Blind moves into the building and stays
there until 1912 (when it then moves to Watertown).
C.C. Walworth founds a manufacturing company on East
First Street where he produces Walworth radiators.
Several thousand Irish take a temperance pledge administered
by Reverend Terence Fitzsimmons.
The South Shore Railroad extends across Fort Point
Channel to South Boston.
Harrison Loring founds the City Point Works that makes
marine engines, boilers, and paper mill equipment.
In 1857, he begins building the first iron ships in
New England. His first two vessels, South Carolina
and Massachusetts are 1,150 ton steamships
built for the Southern Steamship Company and City
of Boston respectively. The Edison Plant is now located
at the old City Point site.
Opening of Boston Reservoir in Thomas Park on Dorchester
Heights. The park is named after General John Thomas
who fought during the evacuation of the British in
1776. At the same time, the Board of Health tries
to close St. Augustine's cemetery claiming that the
graves are too shallow and therefore pungent. The
board's action is actually a ploy so that local developers
can buy the land and turn it into real estate. The
ploy fails when Bishop John Fitzpatrick challenges
Briggs' shipbuilding company builds the record breaking
clipper ship The Northern Light. The eighth
fort (and second Fort Independence) on Castle Island
is constructed. It is essentially an overhaul of the
Introduction of the street railways of the Dorchester
Avenue Company and the Broadway Company.
Andrew Square (formerly Washington Village), named
for Governor John A. Andrew, is annexed to South Boston
from Dorchester. The boundary is now at Washburn Street.
The Lawrence School is built on B and Athens Streets.
It is the largest school in Boston at the time of
The Lincoln School is established on East Broadway
(Today it is home to a Boston Public Library branch).
Irish begin moving to South Boston from Fort Hill.
The Carney Hospital is opened by Irish immigrant Andrew
Carney, who made his fortune in the clothing business,
on Telegraph Hill (at the former J. Hall Howe estate)
for the free treatment of patients. After Carney's
death the next year, the hospital is funded by begging
nuns from the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent
de Paul. Today, the building is home to the Marian
Manor Home for the Elderly.
Organization of the longest continually operational
yacht club in Boston: The Boston Yacht Club.
The Norcross School is built on D and Fifth Streets
in honor of Mayor Otis Norcross (1867).
The Shurtleff School is constructed on Dorchester
Street and named after Mayor Nathaniel B. Shurtleff
The Dorchester Street Methodist Episcopal Church is
The first Mass is given at Saint Augustine's Church
on Dorchester Street.
Julia Ward Howe, author of "Battle Hymn of the
Republic" establishes "Mother's Day."
The Church of Saint Vincent de Paul is moved to South
Boston from Fort Hill.
The Gaston School, after Mayor William Gaston, is
built on L and Fifth Street.
George Lawley arrives in South Boston where he becomes
a leading manufacturer of yachts and sloops.
The Grace Episcopal Church is built on Dorchester
The City Point Methodist Episcopal Church is built
and the John A. Andrew School is constructed on Dorchester
Street. It is named after Governor Andrew.
The Phillips Congregational Church (organized 1823)
is built on Fourth Street (now on Atlantic).
Irish born resident Patrick Collins becomes the first
Irishman elected to the United States Congress.
Isaac and Stephen Jenney found Jenney Manufacturing
Company, which is taken over by Bernard and Francis
Jenney and turns out 500 barrels of oil a day by the
turn of the century.
The Church of the Redeemer is built on East Fourth
Street to serve the Episcopal community. The South
Boston branch of the Boston Public Library is
Employees of the South Boston Railroad Company go
on strike for a month.
The Federal Government transfers Castle Island to
the City of Boston.
A bridge to Castle Island is constructed.
A statue is dedicated to Civil War hero Admiral David
G. Farragut in Marine Park.
The wharf district is created along Summer Street
and Northern Avenue by massive filling. Early manufacturing
shifts to the wool trade except for machine/tool making
factories and engineering companies. The Head House
is constructed at Marine Park.
James Brendan Connelly of the Suffolk Athletic Club
wins the first gold medal at the first modern Olympics
in Athens, Greece for the triple jump. He drops out
of Harvard to attend the games.
The community is shocked when four children drown
when a float tips over at Castle Island.
Four people are killed at Castle Island during the
Spanish-American War when the last batch of defensive
mines they were removing from the harbor accidentally
The Congress Street Bridge is built and remains a
major route from Boston to South Boston. The same
year, St. Peter's is built for Lithuanians and presided
over by Reverend John Zilinskas.
The Bigelow School is founded and named after Mayor
King C. Gillette invents the 'safety razor' at the
Gillette Razor Company Plant on Dorchester Ave.
The first St. Patrick's Day parade is held. The town
library closes under the auspices of celebrating Evacuation
Day that commemorates the British evacuation of Boston
during the American Revolution.
South Boston High School opens.
The Dorchester Heights memorial is dedicated.
The Edison Plant is established and helps expand electricity
Austrian Alois Anderle completes the first Boston
Lighthouse Marathon Swim. The event is a ten mile
race from Charlestown Bridge, east of Governor's Island,
west of Long Island, west of George's Island, and
finishing at Little Brewster Island where the nation's
first lighthouse was built in 1716. Anderle is later
disqualified for walking across an exposed sandbar
at Nix's Crag. The next year, 15 year old Rose Pitonof
wins the race with a time of 6 hours and 50 minutes.
Her record stands for several years. The race itself
is discontinued after World War II.
Filling has increased the size of South Boston from
600 acres to 1333 acres. South Boston hits its peak
population: 71,703. Lithuanians, Poles, and Italians
move into Dorchester Street breaking the near monopoly
the Irish have among the immigrant population.
The South Boston Municipal Building is built on the
site of the former Perkins School for the Blind. The
Boston Fish Pier, designed by Henry Keyes, is constructed
on Northern Ave. The Strandway, or Columbia Road,
is laid out from Dorchester Ave. to Marine Park, City
A U.S. Army Base is built in the neighborhood near
Black Falcon Pier. Boston is the military and naval
headquarters of New England during World War One and
the prime shipping port to England. Boston Harbor
is mined and a net is stretched across its opening
both to protect against enemy submarines.
A wooden bridge between Castle Island and Marine Park
is constructed. At the same time, part of the Czechoslovakian
Constitution of 1918 is written at the Czechoslovakian
Club on Columbia Road. Jan Mazaryk, the first president
of the Republic of Czechoslovakia was a South Boston
resident for a time.
1,134 Boston police go on strike protesting their
lack of unionization. Angry mobs attack the police
and vandalize and loot Boston's Neighborhoods. Mayor
Peters finally calls in the National Guard who fire
on a crowd in South Boston killing three and wounding
A subway route runs under Fort Point Channel-Dorchester
Route 203 from Dorchester to Brookline is named after
James A. Gallivan, a South Boston resident who served
in both the Massachusetts and United States House
Castle Island is joined to the mainland by a road.
During the Depression, the Public Works Administration
Housing Division builds the Old Harbor Village housing
project (later renamed the Mary Ellen McCormack Project).
The Boston Housing Authority constructs the Old Colony
Project to supply low cost housing for the poor.
State Senator John Powers of South Boston is the first
Democrat elected as President of the State Senate.
Kelly's Landing burns down thereby depriving Bostonians
of one of the best places to get fried clams in the
A dike is constructed from Castle Island to Sugar
Bowl thereby enclosing Pleasure Bay.
John W. McCormack (1891-1980) is the first Roman Catholic
elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.
Castle Island (1953) and its beaches (except L Street)
are placed under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan
After a ruling by Judge W. Arthur Garrity, the city
desegregates Boston's schools including South Boston's.
There is extreme controversy, violence, and protest
in South Boston in an effort to stop busing. Twenty-five
years later it is still impossible to write a brief
history which all sides might agree upon.
The South Boston Vietnam Memorial is erected.
Raymond Leo Flynn is elected Mayor of Boston. He is
the first Boston mayor from South Boston. He is re-elected
three times before leaving to become United States
Ambassador to the Vatican in 1993.
The Korean War Memorial is erected on Castle Island.
The Church of Saints Peter and Paul (founded 1844),
the second oldest Catholic Church in Boston closes.
The United States Supreme Court supports the South
Boston Allied War Veterans right to determine who
can participate in their annual St. Patrick's Day
parade. This same year sees long time South Boston
politician and President of the Massachusetts Senate
William M. Bulger made President of the University
The Evelyn Moakley and New Northern Avenue Bridges
The waterfront area filled in during the 1850s becomes
the focus of a huge planning and speculative push
after the Commonwealth decides to site a new convention
center in the area that is variously called the "Seaport"
area or the "South Boston Waterfront."
The New Broadway Bridge is constructed. The 200th
anniversary celebration of the construction of Fort
Independence takes place this summer.
Charles Bancroft. Illustrated History of South
Boston. South Boston: Inquirer Publishing Co.,
Patrick Jr. That Old Gang of Mine. South Boston:
Historic Commission Reconnaissance Survey Report,
South Boston, December 1980.
Thomas H. South Boston, My Home Town: The History
of an Ethnic Neighborhood. Boston: Quinlan Press,
Edward and Toomey, John. History of South Boston:
Its Past and Present. Boston, 1901.
Anthony Mitchell. South Boston. Images of America.
Charleston, S.C.: Temple Pub., 1996.
Thomas C. History of South Boston, Formerly Dorchester
Neck. Boston: 1857.
John J. and Rankin, Edward P.B. History of South
Boston. Boston: 1901.