Upham's Corner Online

Divided Upham's Corner - Weakened Community

Posted: June 21, 2011     Nancy J Conrad

There is a dividing line in Upham's corner.  It is a strip of land that winds from Franklin Park out to the very tip of South Boston.  It's part of a long sequence of parkways and waterways designed by America's first landscape architect - Frederick Law Olmsted. 

It's a strip of land that Olmsted would never have wanted to be used to separate one group of people from another, one socioeconomic class, one ethnic group, one racial group from any other. But that's how it is in Upham's Corner.  

Talk among the colored peoples is hush-hush.  It isn't politically correct to speak openly about the segregation that continues throughout Boston and especially in Upham's Corner.  The west side of Columbia Road marks a distinctly different section of Upham's Corner, and why?  Look at the facts.  Look at the colors.  The further east you travel, the more you find the politically savvy residents and the further east you travel, the whiter it gets.

Or look at in the other direction - cross Columbia Rd towards the tracks and watch how the conditions change as you move towards Roxbury - the businesses, the colors, the weeds, the condition of the properties.  Is it because the residents don't care?

Click to enlarge
Map Upham's Corner Upham's Corner
as defined by the BRA
BPD B2-C11 Boundaries
Area B-2 and C-11 Police Boundaries
Click image to enlarge

The west side of Columbia Road is under the jurisdiction of the area B-2 police while the east side of Columbia road is covered by area C-11.  Everyone knows that C-11 means Dorchester.  Everyone knows that B-2 means Roxbury. 

Area B-2 police are wonderful but they are the "Roxbury" police.  That makes the west side of Columbia Rd part of Roxbury when we are not. 

So when people say Roxbury, they don't mean Upham's Corner and, for them, the other side of Blue Hill Ave doesn't exist. 

We want our wonderful relationship with B-2 police to continue but we don't want to be forgotten because we don't have the name "Roxbury."

Clearly this is not a Boston Police Department issue. 

Upham's Corner does not stand out as unique and special enough for Bostonians to even remember where it is and how far it extends.

Councilor SupportDistrict 7 and District 3
City Councilor Boundaries
Click image to enlarge

The same type of division exists for our city councilors though slightly further east.  The west side of Columbia Road is under the jurisdiction of Tito Jackson. His responsibilites also snake part way down Hancock Street then up through Jones Hill starting at Rowell and out Everett Ave, then up Sumner to E Cottage Street.  

The remaining easterly section of Upham's Corner is under the jurisdiction of Maureen Feeney.  Guess who attends the Jones Hill Neighborhood Association meetings.  Maureen Feeney.

During Tito Jackson's campaign, he repeatedly forgot to mention the several jurisdictions under his political responsibility EXCEPT for Roxbury.  The byword was always Roxbury. 

In multiple venues Upham's Corner News had to shout out from the peanut gallery:  "Upham's Corner, Upham's Corner. Don't forget Upham's Corner." 

Note: Tito Jackson isn't forgetting Upham's Corner any more than his predecessor did.  Chuck Turner has many faithful followers in Upham's Corner.  He also has people who were very frustrated with him, those who say he didn't come through.  One example is cited by a Jones Hill resident.  "Chuck Turner never showed up at any of the meetings.  We are really grateful to Maureen Feeney for everything she did for us."

The whole of Upham's Corner has an image problem. 

Everyone knows that the east side of Columbia Rd is Dorchester.  What about the west side?  Where does Dorchester end and Roxbury begin?  Pity the poor people who live on the west side of the tracks but the east side of Blue Hill Ave.  What is that? 

It's Dorchester! but is it Upham's Corner?  Upham's Corner Main Street has streteched their interests out to the Kroc Center for obvious reasons, but not farther than that.  The BRA ends Upham's Corner at the tracks.  Upham's Corner is not Roxbury and Roxbury is not Upham's Corner.

Yes, during the campaign Tito Jackson forgot about Upham's Corner in his speeches and his promises but he is getting better - after all, he only took office Spring 2011. 

The problem, however, is pervasive.  In Mayor Menino's April 2, 2011 speech at the new Kroc Center, he described its location as Roxbury.

"this beautiful community center right here on good old Dudley Street, good old Roxbury MA."

Another reason for the Mayor to call it Roxbury? 
  • Dudley Square is Roxbury
  • Dudley Station is Roxbury
  • And Dudley Street?  Why that's also Roxbury, right?
On the east side of Columbia Rd, there is no ambiguity.  NO ONE would ever describe the east side of Columbia Rd as "good old Roxbury."  That's Dorchester.  In fact Dudley Street ends at Columbia Rd and continues "into Dorchester" as Stoughton Street.

So where does that leave the predominantly colored side of Upham's Corner? 

The "broken window" theory of neighborhoods applies to all sections of Boston but it finds no better home than the west side of Columbia Rd, north of Dudley Street.  There are so many blatant problems in this section - abandoned property, unkempt property, reputed drug house, two murders since the beginning of the year.  All of this comes together to paint a section of Boston that has long been neglected. 

Residents have called the police and Inspectional Services repeatedly.  "Nothing ever changes," they say.

At Safe Neighborhood Initiative (SNI) meetings, the term "quality of life" is used as an arbiter of what should or should not go on the "list" of neighborhood issues.  More than the "justifiable" violations of city ordinances, they say, are some resident attitudes towards "quality of life" - their's not anyone else's.  The fact that weeds and weed trees and trash don't cause harm is not a reason to tolerate their existence.  In frustration the residents say that Inspectional Services has told them: "There's nothing we can do." 

SNI has scheduled a neighborhood walk for June 21, 2011 to draw particular attention to some of the problems in this neighborhood.
  1. Project Pride - house in decrepit condition, abandoned for years
  2. 35 Humphreys - reputed drug house, under foreclosure
  3. Maxwell Flea Market building - DND not maintaining - weeds everywhere
  4. Wendover property - closed off by city, overgrown with weeds
  5. The top of Elder (and Columbia) where the teenagers are a problem every night
  6. Many residential properties that are "a mess," usually unkempt - weeds

SNI Sponsored Neighborhood Walk
Meet at the City School
6:30pm, Tuesday, June 21, 2011. 

The group expects the police, city and elected officials and residents to participate.  They are asking for help identifying problems and raising priorities for City assistance. 

Did you miss the meeting?  You can still drive through the area and get a sense of the problems.  Make your own list.  Call your councilor and lobby your support for this effort and your neighbors.
SNI Walk-thru
Two sets of garages in close proximity of concern to neighbors

Garages at (approx) 49 Humphreys St
SNI Walk-thru
Used for flea market activities after Maxwell closed
SNI Walk-thru
Garages at (approx) 8 Harrow Street used for car repair

SNI Walk-thru
Corner lot with garage - overgrown with weeds
SNI Walk-thru
Corner Humphreys and Quincefield Streets - weeds

SNI Walk-thru
Corner Humphreys and Groom Streets
SNI Walk-thru
35 Humphreys, reputed drug house

SNI Walk-thru
Project Pride house in April
SNI Walk-thru
Project Pride house in May
SNI Walk-thru
In front of Project Pride
SNI Walk-thru
Corner Humphreys and Groom Streets

SNI Walk-thru
City owned lot on Wendover Street - overgrown with weeds
SNI Walk-thru
Empty lot, Humphreys & Dudley

SNI Walk-thru
The old Maxwell Flea market, owned by DND,
as seen from Hillsboro St
SNI Walk-thru
Rounding the corner towards Groom St

SNI Walk-thru
Maxwell - notice condition of Hillsboro St
SNI Walk-thru
Poor condition of Hillsboro Street

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