During Kevin White's 16 years as mayor, Boston's streetscape and skyline changed significantly. Here are some of the greatest hits that happened on (and under) his watch:
The South End
There is perhaps no higher honor that a big-city mayor in America can receive than the sobriquet of "gentrifier." The South End was one of the sketchier neighborhoods when White became mayor in 1968, and was, by the time he left office in 1983, on its way to becoming one of its toniest. Why, just last year you voted it the Hub's best neighborhood!
The Four Seasons and the Heritage
As Brian McGrory wrote in yesterday's Globe: "It’s virtually impossible to imagine that ... a lounge called the Hillbilly Ranch ever fronted the Public Garden in the space where the Four Seasons Hotel and the Heritage now proudly stand."
Charlestown Navy Yard
The reclamation of the yard and other waterfront in the North End and South Boston meant it could be used for other uses beyond shipping, especially as that industry as a local economic driver declined (whether micro-apartments were envisioned is another matter).
The mixed-use giant in Back Bay opened just as White left office. It joined a plethora of other commercial development in the preceding 16 years: 38 newly constructed office buildings; 50 renovated ones; and 17 newly built or planned hotels.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace
This was the big accomplishment and the one that White was proudest of. It opened just in time for the Bicentennial and a visit from Queen Elizabeth II, supplanting the dingier Quincy Market and becoming a blueprint for urban revitalization.
The one great miss was the Park Plaza project proposed in 1970. Mort Zuckerman, now chairman of Boston Properties (and publisher of the New York Daily News), wanted to build several apartment and hotel towers, with retail, in a 35-acre swathe between Back Bay and Downtown. The theory? Make the inner-city attractive to well-to-do tenants (gentrification again), and broaden the tax base to do other big public-private projects. Park Plaza buckled by the end of the decade under pressure from preservationists and those who pointed out how dense the project would make Boston's interior.
· Kevin White: The Loner and the City He Loved and Changed [Globe]
· Kevin White, Mayor Through Era of Change, Dead at 82 [Globe]
· The Curbed Boston Cub Neighborhood of the Year: South End! [Curbed Boston]
· South Boston to Get Hundreds of Manhattan Apartments [Curbed Boston]