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Chinatown library service returning February 5, ending 62-year drought

Basement of 2 Boylston

2 Boylston Street
Photo via Castles Unlimited

The Boston Public Library is expected on February 5 to open a Chinatown branch in basement space at the China Trade Center at 2 Boylston Street.

The opening—which a February 3 ribbon-cutting featuring Mayor Marty Walsh will precede—will mark the return of public library service to the neighborhood after nearly 62 years.

The last branch was bulldozed in 1956 to make way for the Central Artery-slash-Mass. Pike and it never returned. Meanwhile, other neighborhoods such as Jamaica Plain and East Boston saw their branches majorly renovated. And Roxbury’s branch is undergoing major renovations right now.

As Walsh himself noted last year, the 1956 demolition rendered Chinatown “the only neighborhood in Boston without a library.”

So, while it’s not a standalone building (that’s supposed to come later), officials and locals are hailing the temporary Chinatown spot as a milestone for the neighborhood, one that stands athwart the area’s relentless gentrification.

The neighborhood has gone from an ethnic enclave with affordable apartments and retail space for immigrants and their immediate descendants to one of the priciest areas in the Boston region.