In the late 1950s, the Boston Redevelopment Authority oversaw the wholesales demolition of several acres of the West End and the displacement of thousands of residents, many of them long-timers. It was all in the name of urban renewal, a mid-20th-century effort that turned out to be far from renewing for many neighborhoods in several cities nationwide (read Robert Caro's The Power Broker if you don't believe us). High-rises were plonked in place of the West End's more intimate streets and lower-rise dwellings; and that was that: a neighborhood undone and cut off from the vibrancy of the rest of Boston.
The BRA wants to make up for what its urban-renewal wrought, in a way. At a West End Museum event last week marking the opening of an exhibition on—what else?—urban renewal, current BRA Chairman Brian Golden, who wasn't alive when the West End was razed, issued a formal apology on behalf of his agency. As the Globe's Jon Chesto points out, though, Golden's mea culpa comes amid a current BRA push to renew the very tools it used to wreck the West End all those years ago. This time, though, the BRA promises to be more surgical in its efforts. Per Chesto: "Golden, in his speech ... said the BRA hasn't been in the business of clearing neighborhoods for a long time." Fingers crossed.
· BRA Director Offers Formal Apology for West End's Demolition [Globe]
· Is the South End Blighted? Boston Mulls '60s-Era Designation [Curbed Boston]