What defines a Boston ‘neighborhood’?

Over the next couple of months, we’ll be showcasing all the neighborhoods Boston has to offer in hopes of educating you (and ourselves) about areas you may not be familiar with; as well as exploring the distinguishing characteristics of each area.  Boston is certainly not the biggest city in the world but the diversity in the neighborhoods is astounding; turning a corner or crossing a bridge can feel like traveling to a whole different part of the world.

First, it’s important to distinguish what constitutes a ‘neighborhood’ in the city.  According to a Boston Globe article last Summer, most Bostonians have differing opinions about where a neighborhood starts and ends. The inconsistencies in zip codes, parking restrictions and Realtor definitions make it hard to tell who is right and who is wrong.  Your Realtor may tell you that your apartment is in the Southie to appease your requests; while the neighbors consider it Dorchester.  Further, you could have a South Boston resident parking sticker but have a Dorchester zip code – so who is right?

Some neighborhoods, like The North End and East Boston, are easier to define than others like Allston/Brighton due to natural borders.  Also, in a city of recent redevelopment and growth, there are new neighborhoods coming and going constantly.  (Remember the West End?)  Is ‘The Seaport’ part of “Southie” or is it’s part of Downtown’s Waterfront?  Some would refer to  it as “South Boston” to differentiate from “Southie”.  (Neither of which are not to be confused with the South End.)

In the same Boston Globe article, 950 Boston residents were asked to shade in where they thought the neighborhoods were divided.  The map below speaks for itself…The darker the blue, the more people thought it was that neighborhood.


As an East Boston resident, my neighborhood was not in question since it has Boston Harbor as a natural boundary; however tell an Eastie resident who lives in the Jeffries Point neighborhood that they live in Orient Heights, and they’ll have no problem correcting you.  So is my neighborhood East Boston or Jeffries Point?

At the end of the day, we’re all Bostonians but what makes our city great is the differences in neighborhoods!  Starting next week we’ll be showcasing them all and hope you learn a little bit!

What defines a Boston neighborhood to you?


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