Upham's Corner Online

The Reputation of Upham's Corner in 2012

Posted: January 15, 2011     Nancy J Conrad


What determines a community's reputation? Certainly the people who live, work and visit help establish its reputation. Equally important, sometimes moreso, are the transitional people - those who come to visit (work, shop, organizations) and those who move out.

As long as I continue to visit or live in a community, I will find a way to compliment or at least tolerate it. A potentially stronger voice in a community's reputation may come from what the people who have left or who are looking at the community from afar.
  • What image does the community project to the outside world?
  • What do the people who live here have to say about it?
  • What do the demographics say about who we are and, therefore, who would feel comfortable moving here?
  • What labels are frequently used to describe the community?
  • How safe is the community?
  • What steps are being actively taken to change/manage the image?
In this article we will look at what one resident had to say about "labels" that can be used to describe Upham's Corner, the urgency of addressing the problem of crime and the reproduction of a conversation from the internet about Upham's Corner.

The focus is not so much on what steps should be taken to change/manage the city's reputation.  That will come later after we look at what is causing and influencing the reputation in the first place.

Labels An Upham's Corner resident recently addressed the issue of "labels" that get tagged onto a community and at least one reason why that happens.  Who wants to live next to a group home or a homeless shelter or even a huge subsidized housing project (development)? 
The high murder rate is a demographic and a symptom.  They symptoms have the potential for getting worse especially as our reputation grows. Addressing the root cause is necessary to stop "the bleeding."
What people say
Ask anyone.  They'll tell you:  "Don't move to Upham's Corner."  Reproduced below is a typical internet conversation about Upham's Corner.  It's not nice.

Same old Same Old

Aaron Larget-Caplan raised the an important concept at the January 10, 2012 meeting of the Upham's Corner Westside Neighborhood Association meeting.  It was during a rather heated exchange betwen members of the community and the two St Kevin's developer representatives.  St. Kevin's Developers get an Earful

Aaron pointed out that the presence of certain structures (and, by default, the absence of others) is causing undesirable "labels" to be attached to our community and to the name "Upham's Corner."

It is in this context that many of the attendees disagreed with, and strongly objected to the planned redevelopment project at the St. Kevin's site.  Aaron began by talking about what we have in Upham's Corner and what is causing the detrimental labels:

"We have group homes galore, a homeless shelter and now you are proposing to add subsidized housing.   The label we are going to get is not going to attract the kind of growth we want in Upham's Corner if the project is just another large apartment building."

He asked the developers if it were possible to build "something other than an apartment building."  He noted that "if you drive down Columbia Road, you will see lots of apartment buildings."  His vision of a new, vibrant and attractive Upham's Corner is not more of "the same." 

"Where you are proposing to put housing is part of the Upham's Corner Business District."  In other words, "housing" doesn't make sense.  Upham's Corner deserves something better.

What community components are helping to create the labels?
  • Three homes on Virginia Street used as group housing
  • A homeless shelter on Columbia Road
  • A shelter for women and infants on Jones Hill
All of these represent transitional housing for the poor or disadvantaged.  But they also provide fodder for engaging in value judgments.  What people say is the label that gets assigned.  A "transitional housing" label, while not necessarily bad can be a stigma unless it is managed properly.  Making a decision to add "more of the same" is probably not a good idea and will only reinforce the already questionable label.

Aaron's point is a lesson in understanding what helps create Upham's Corner's reputation.  If I am "blind" to what exists in Upham's Corner because I live here and don't pay much attention, then I need to "step back" far enough to be able to see it clearly. 

While it is incumbent on us, the residents of Upham's Corner, to carefully examine the decisions we make, Upham's Corner is not an island unto itself.  Who we are influences the reputation of Dorchester and Boston.  The responsibility for managing our community's reputation falls on all of us.

Using the Wrong Remedies

Whatever the St. Kevin's developers bring / don't bring to the table, we, the Upham's Corner community, have a bigger problem. 
Upham's Corner already has a bad - very bad - reputation.  Look at the murder statistics for 2011.
  • We can ignore the reputation as it is seen by the outside world.  (What do they know anyway?)
  • We can pretend all we want that our reputation is wrong or undeserved 
  • We can talk about how much (Upham's Corner News does this) we love our community. 
None of this changes our reputation. Upham's Corner is like a terminally ill patient.  Emergency measures are called for.
  • We can use the ancient, tried, tested and useless methods of bygone days. 
  • We can treat our spiritual and social "pneumonia" with opium, caster oil, and Virginia snake weed as did the doctors of President William Henry Harrison.
  • We can wait until the right lower lobe of our community's lungs is overtaken by pneumonia, jaundice and overwhelming septicemia.
  •  And like President Harrison, we can be the first community to "die in office."
Upham's Corner is ignored by many of our elected officials because we ignore ourselves. 

We are a broken neighborhood within the City of Boston.  Time cannot heal a community that is ready for life support.   Much bigger measures are needed.

Uphams Corner's Reputation

06-01-2009, 04:22 PM cmwyatt How safe is the area of Dorchester around Monadnock street?
06-01-2009, 05:53 PM bgrasser

I used to hang around that area back in the early sixtys before the bottom fell out; it was a safe and friendly area. In this day and age I wouldn't be caught dead within a three mile radius of the Monadnock St area. 
06-01-2009, 10:29 PM goyguy
Cambridge, MA
That neighborhood's been in a sorry state for some 25 years or so due to "White flight" and housing deterioration. It's in a high-crime area - lots of gang activity, shootings, robberies, all that fun stuff. You should be OK if you're visiting or working during the day, keeping your wits about you and an eye on your surroundings. Don't give relocating there any thought, though, and be gone by sundown.
06-02-2009, 02:40 PM eevee
in Uphams Corner near Columbia Rd? I'd avoid it (had family in that area that moved out years ago due to the rising crime)
06-02-2009, 06:04 PM Urban Peasant
Boston, MA
Very bad area indeed. A LOT of gang activity and rival families/clans that have squared off for years.
Look east of Dorchester Avenue or south of Gallivan Blvd. for safe parts of Dorchester.
09-03-2009, 03:15 PM virginiag What about Columbia Road right next to Dorchester Ave. Is that a bad area?
09-03-2009, 08:24 PM Urban Peasant
Boston, MA
I consider Dorchester Ave at Coumbia Road to be moderately rough but definitely better than Uphams Corner. The problem is that it is still quite close to Uphams Corner although lately that area has become popular with college students and some young urban professionals.
09-03-2009, 08:53 PM bostonguy1960 I drive a taxi in Boston, but Monadnock is one of those areas I won't take calls at night.

As I always say, even bad parts of Boston do have nice homes here and there, but stay away from the Dudley St./Uphams Corner corridor. Columbia and Dot Ave intersection area is better, near JFK red line. Savin Hill area near there is very nice in most parts, as are pparts of the Pleasant St. area.. Ashmont Hill near Gallivan Blvd is very nice in parts, as is Lower Mills and Adams Village. Melville Park area is nice; I love the Wellesley Park enclave. But all of these are close to bad areas, in my mind.

Dorchester Reporter is a small weekly; not sure if online.

Try Quincy, MA, where I've lived for 5 years. Not fancy, but safer neighborhoods. Located next to a part of Dorchester.
09-03-2009, 09:04 PM bostonguy1960 Location: Quincy, Mass. (near Boston)

Actually, Dorchester is becoming popular with gays in recent years, as downtown has prices have forced them out. Not all gay men are rich, contrary to popular perception. Bay Windows weekly (gay) has ads for Savin Hill area "over the bridge" or OTB, targeting gays; but Jones Hill (lovely Victorians) and Pleasant St. area attracts them also -- without being a gay ghetto.

Lots of Vietnamese business along the 900-1500 block of Dot Ave. More and more graffiti on steel grates of small storefronts as I drive by at night. Hate that, but most people don't seem to notice or mind. Prostitution seemed to be a problem on Dot Ave until about 10 yrs. Ago.

Source:   http://www.city-data.com/forum/boston/664166-safety-certain-area-dorchester-ma.html


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