Thursday, June 04, 2009

Can Dorchester stand alone?

If you haven't spent 50 cents on this week's Dorchester Reporter, check this out. Local freelancer Adam Pieniazek has researched Dorchester's history and posed this question to thoughtful local residents: "Can Dorchester stand alone?"

I gave the twee reply that the Dot would just be another Quincy if it did and who needs two? Our correspondent from the Polish Triangle justifiably didn't report my response. While it is quotable, the observation doesn't apply. Neither does something someone said to me recently in passing, that if Dorchester had rejected annexation it would be a twin of Brookline. This also isn't exactly accurate. After a hundred odd years being under the aegis of Boston, itself, you can't go back again and rewrite history.

Unlike Quincy, Dorchester doesn't have any undeveloped land that I've ever seen. There is no room to grow, only room to improve. Unlike Brookline, which carves a hole out of Boston's silhouette, Dorchester is built up mainly for function rather than vanity. You won't find many empty parcels on which to drop your corporate headquarters and you won't find many majestic mansions on shady, meandering streets. Brookline and Quincy are suburbs. Dorchester is part and parcel of a bigger city, there is no cutting the cord this late after delivery.

Dorchester has no room to grow, only to improve. That sentence sticks in in the soul of every Dorchesterite. The neighborhood can only enhance not expand. It can get taller, more dense, more electric, it can bulk up on its muscle. In a place that is home to so many sheetrockers, roofers, carpet layers, masons, and pavers, more muscle is something they want to build in order to take on more work. Dorchester is proud of its strength. Like any body builder, it wouldn't mind having more health, stamina, focus, or heft. With its shoulder to the puddingstone, Dorchester is primed to push Beacon Hill off kilter on its foundation. The day will come. Mark my words.

Ask anyone in Dorchester if the city or the Commonwealth is run right. They'll tell you they could do a better job.

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