Why do people want to live in one neighborhood, over another? I deal mostly with first-time homebuyers, empty-nesters, and people buying condos for their college-aged children. They all choose homes based on how much they can afford, convenience to things (transportation, school, stores), and safety. I guess those would be the top three.
A modest-priced home in a safe neighborhood, convenient to a grocery store and the MBTA. That’s they way most people would put it.
Back Bay is convenient – you can take the subway or walk to work/school, you can walk to Shaws supermarket and Newbury Street, or to the movies, library (um, yeah) and bank. It is safe, by any measure. Of course, the downside is, housing isn’t cheap.
The South End is a bit different. In fact, it meets few of the criteria. It’s a bit
remote out of the center of things – you can hop on the Silver Line, now, but to get to the subway, you have to walk up to Back Bay / South End Orange Line, or further, to the Green Line at Copley. From Washington Street, it’s a hike. And a hike to Shaws (although Foodies has just about anything you’d like). Still, I wouldn’t consider the shops and stores on Tremont and Washington Street able to fill the needs of its community. Too many restaurants (and real estate agencies). And too many dress shops. Plus, the South End is not the safest neighborhood.
South Boston actually has just about everything you need, along East Broadway. A Stop & Shop, restaurants, bars, banks, real estate agencies, quickie-marts, lawyers, etc. You could spend a weekend in South Boston and never have to leave to do anything.
Allston has some areas like that. Dorchester is too spread out to have a single neighborhood core. I hear Roslindale Square works well (although I didn’t like it the one time I was there, because the big park in the middle of the square really messes up flow of people & traffic – and shouldn’t downtowns be cramped and full of people?).
Why am I even talking about this? The Globe ran an (incredibly long) article on Jamaica Plain and Centre Street, over the weekend.
Centre Street, for all its character, colorful murals, and funky collection of shops, is also cluttered with run-down tchotchke stores, mediocre pizza parlors, an overflow of banks and real estate offices, and old salons and saloons that could use a serious face lift. The nicer restaurants fill up on weekends but are often quiet on weekdays. The streets, sidewalks, and crosswalks are so badly cracked in places that it’s hard to bike or walk
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