Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Roxbury-Dorchester border

I was reading an article about OpenAir Boston describing how they brought wireless service to "the Grove Hall neighborhood of Dorchester." I remember when the service started and it was likewise described as being in Dorchester in the Globe.

The funny thing is, I was in Grove Hall this morning headed down Blue Hill Avenue to the Stop & Shop located in Grove Hall's Mecca. As an aside, 'Grove Hall's Mecca' is the most inappropriate name of any shopping center located next to a mosque. Anyhow, headed from Franklin Park, the typical blue oval sign that announces Boston neighborhoods reads, "Welcome to Grove Hall/ ROXBURY/ City of Boston/ Mayor Thomas M. Menino."

To my mind Dorchester has always ended at Columbia Road. I know it's not a perfect or official boundary but it works well enough in my mind. I travel the length of Dudley Street everyday, and when I cross Columbia Road in Upham's Corner, from Stoughton Street onto Dudley, my head knows I am still in the Dot, but my heart tells me I am entering Roxbury territory. In the opposite direction on Dudley Street, after the East and West Cottage Streets intersection I feel I am entering Dorchester, but I don't feel I'm home free yet until I cross Columbia Road at Upham's Corner.

I had a conversation recently with an acquaintance and he assured me Grove Hall is part of Dorchester. I'd known of the overlap but I've always thought it a part of Roxbury. It's a little off my radar to be Dorchester proper to me, just far enough to be somewhere else. That somewhere else is the next nearby neighborhood: Roxbury.

I'm sure real estate agents represent it as either, depending on their client, but the two neighborhoods are of similar essence. It is like comparing platinum to gold, one is somewhat more desirable, but both elements have high intrinsic value worth the investment.

Who decided that the official sign should designate Grove Hall as part of Roxbury? Surely, the incumbent mayor who is ever-sensitive to popular perception wouldn't have allowed his name to be attached to an erroneous attribution.?

In the end does it matter? It is Grove Hall, Boston, after all, another example of parochial hair-splitting. It is like my personal decision to end Dorchester at Andrew Square. That seems to be where the Dot's magnificence ends and Southie's begins. I've talked to people from South Boston who have debated me that Andrew is definitely, solidly part of Southie, stomping grounds of Whitey Bulger and Michael Flaherty. Who am I to argue? These things are hazy. The important thing is that all of these places are Boston.
A book about Dudley Street. I recommend it.


Not Whitey Bulger said...

Everything north of Seaver street and east of Blue Hill Ave is Roxbury. Travelling north, at about Genevam about a block to the west of Blue Hill Ave. was also Roxbury.

Times change, and boundries may wander, but coming north on Blue Hill Ave from Mattapan, I'd put the Roxbury sign at Grove Hall too. It's a borderline case - literally - but if you're going to put the sign anywhere on Blue Hill ave, that's where it belongs.

Ask five locals who think they know, and you'll generally get five uninformed guesses passing for insider knowledge.

Whalehead King said...

Thanks Not-Whitey. It's no wonder people get lost. Confusing boundaries in a confusing city.


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