Chinatown block demolished for Southeast Expressway in early 1960s to be developed again

Parcel 24. Graphic from Asian Community Development Corp.Parcel 24. Graphic from Asian Community Development Corp.

City and state officials gather Monday morning to announce financial help for a planned development that would restore housing to a block demolished for a support structure for I-93 nearly five decades ago.

The Asian Community Development Corp. and the New Boston Fund, Inc. plan a mixed-use development on Parcel 24, bordered by Kneeland and Hudson streets and the highway that will include 345 units of housing - 40% designated as "affordable."

The Herald reports the project will cost $130 million. The BRA awarded development rights to the two in 2006.

The announcement, which will include Gov. Patrick and Mayor Menino, starts at 8:45 a.m. at the corner of Kneeland and Hudson.



    Free tagging: 


    Not actually Chinatown

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    When this area was demolished, it was not considered truly Chinatown. Rather, it was home to Boston's (then) vibrant Syrian community. Syriatown, now unknown, was probably the most interesting overlooked part of our history.

    Check the video for details:

    You learn something every day

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    I wonder if they moved to Roslindale and West Roxbury, which have Lebanese and Syrian communities (even a Syrian Orthodox church).

    Apparently so...

    ...towards the end of that video linked above, the narrator says her family moved to West Roxbury after they were evicted.


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    I mentioned on Twitter that my husband's grandparents lived in Syriatown, and they later moved to Roslindale.

    We don't need more housing on Hudson Street

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    My neighbor spent most of this year trying to rent out her apartments. There are also apartments on Tyler Street (next street over) which have been vacant for a good amount of time. Just make that giant space a nice park.

    Small park at the Chinatown entrance?

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    Do you mean the little park at the Chinatown gate and plaza? I like that little spit of land. It adds a much needed softening to an area that is densely developed and hard with asphalt and concrete. I like that the giant red pieces look like Chinese writing (anyone know if they are?). The little stream adds a smooth, orderly and soothing sense of motion and energy in an area where the sense of energy is usually hard, ragged and jarring. The different plants bring out the feeling of a garden.

    I believe that the plaza next to the park still needs work. Replacing the previous trees with the newer trees is a step in the right direction. Extending the park into the plaza would help. I've heard that local residents don't want that.

    But all in all that little park draws me into Chinatown whenever I am in the area. In fact I will go out of my way just for the pleasure of walking along that short park. To me it's one of the best developed parcels of the Greenway.

    No, I meant the RKG

    The parks you mention here are nice, I was thinking more large picture. The Greenway is close by and underutilized. It may have some potential, but I'd like to see it more fully realized before we build another park in the area.

    Boston's version of Millenium Park?

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    A local version of Millennium Park in Chicago would be great. My favorite features of that park the bean and the fountain. But I realize these features require large expanses of land; The Greenway unfortunately is just a bunch of disparate parcels strung together like leafy rectangular beads on a string of asphalt.

    I'm guessing that the success of the Greenway is dependent on a couple of factors. One is the trial and error of different ideas to see which best activate the parks. Another is the growth of trees. If the parcels that are mostly greenery, such as those between Congress and Seaport Blvd, remain greenery, then the growth of trees will give the spaces a feeling of true strolling parks.

    What might be very cool is if these parks became a place for a Boston version of La Passeggiata. Granted the likelihood of this kind of leisurely and communal procession developing in a most usleisurely and communal city is very low. Yet, mirabile dictu, the tough hide of Boston does occasionally soften to allow new ideas and ways.

    Enough with the parks already!

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    This is a CITY, people. We have parks, but we don't need more. The utter failure of the dismal median strip known as the Greenway proves that. We don't neeed more green space at expense of all else. This is not a suburb or a forest. And I've seen drug deals go down in that Chinatown park, by the way, as they always did on that little alley of a street right next to it. These idle parks invite trouble.

    Wow, you've solved all of the city's problems!

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    Drug deals have happened in parks ---> stop making parks

    I have it on good authority that most child abuse and domestic violence takes place in buildings. I say these buildings are causing trouble and WE OUTLAW EM. I've also been hearing from this here Universal Hub that cars are hittin' people. We must put an end to cars!

    Have you spent any time on Hudson Street?

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    Seriously, people walk their dogs on that plot of land. During warmer weather kids play frisbee on the grass. On warmer nights, Chinese residents tend to sit in the grass and talk. Maybe you also didn't notice the path worn into the grass where people walk? I've even seen people flying radio controlled planes out there. There are plenty of rentals available in the area, and in nearby Bay Village. These are units both being rented and sold. Why do we honestly need to flood the marker with more apartments/condos?


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    Five decades ago, I-93 ended at 128 in Woburn. It soon opened to Roosevelt Cir. Medford, then to Mystic Ave. The construction in Boston was on the Central Artery / Southeast Expressway. It was given the I-93 designation much, much later.

    Actually, the Central Artery and

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    the Southeast Expressway north of Mass. Ave (aka the "Broadway Viaduct") were originally to be part of the I-95 routing through Massachusetts. Note that the "Southwest Expressway" portion of I-95 between Canton and Roxbury and the "Northeast Expressway" portion of I-95 between Revere and Peabody were never constructed, except for the fill across the Lynn Marsh that eventually collapsed under its own weight.

    In fact, the elevated Central Artery actually had I-95 shields on it for a short period in the later 1960s/early 1970s.

    What are now the "upper and lower decks" of I-93 were originally constructed in the late 1960s as part of the aborted I-695 "inner Belt". However, this roadway wasn't opened to traffic until September of 1973, when a truck collided with a support beam of the Tobin Bridge, partially collapsing the structure and closing it to all traffic for four months.

    The I-93 designation was formally extended through Boston and down the Southeast Expressway to I-95 in Canton in late 1974, at the same time the I-95 designation was re-routed around Boston on (then) Route 128 between Canton and Peabody.

    Going back further than that...

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    Construction of the Central Artery and the Southeast Expressway actually predated the Interstate Highway System, although I believe that the interstate numbers were designated before the last part of the Artery opened in 1959.

    When Interstate highways were designated in Massachusetts, I-95 was planned to enter Boston via the Southwest Corridor (the "Southwest Expressway"). Near Northeastern University it would have turned east along the Inner Belt (now the route of Melnea Cass Blvd.), then north on what is now the Mass. Ave on-ramp, and along the Central Artery (the John F. Fitzgerald Expressway). I-95 was then designated to continue over the Tobin Bridge and up the present U.S. 1 (the "Northeast Expressway") through Chelsea and Revere to the interchange with Route 60 (Cutler Circle). From there it would have continued through Saugus and Lynn; like the Southwest Expressway, that part of the road was never built.

    I-93 was supposed to branch off of I-95 near the Tobin Bridge and continue to the New Hampshire state line. As noted above, the part of I-93 through Somerville didn't open until the 1970s.

    The Inner Belt was to have been I-695. Route 128 did not originally have an Interstate designation, until several years after the decision was made not to build the Southwest Corridor.

    justification for big dig

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    I recall hearing that part of the justification for the increased federal funding of the big dig (By Tip & Ted K)was that the central artery was originally built using only state funding so this was a way for the federal government to offset that initial construction cost.

    It is Hudson Street

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    If you walk down to about 90 Hudson, then look back towards the State Street building, it becomes more obvious.A small part of The state street building is visible in this drawing, as is the building which houses Golden Leaf on Hudson, and the old Teradyne building on Lincoln Street.


    When will that phase of architecture end? Those look like modern institutional buildings. If you told me those were BU dorms going up somewhere in Allston, I'd believe it. If I had the money (or inclination) to live in a new apartment building, I'd stay away from those.. awful looking things.

    I like some modern architecture.. when it's bold or coherent.. not when it looks as though a committee designed it and a planning board dumbed it down. Or, I like something actually historic rather than faux-historic crap..not much middle ground there :)


    It looks like Vancouver

    Which I kind of like, myself. In Chinatown, that's kind of ethnically appropriate, too.

    Most people don't live in bold and coherent buildings, and brand name architecture is priced for the rich, and not attainable as housing for the middle class. Everyday people can afford to live in everyday buildings that suit everyday living needs. We need more of this, and fewer luxury monuments to developer, architect, and mayoral superegos.


    Ugghh...parking is already a pain in the ass on weekends in Chinatown. Does the city really feel it is necessary to encourage even more people to move into the area?

    Parking does suck here

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    People really want their cars for some reason. Cars always get broken into on Hudson, Tai Tung, and Oak Street. The nights when streets are being swept, parking is horrible, AND I NEVER seen the street sweeper go by. Used to see it all of the time, now, not so much. Eh, in any case, I hope all of the new residents go for the underground parking.

    And same goes for visitors

    My kids love taking the Orange Line to Chinatown for Dim Sum on the weekends. It's a great urban experience, no car required or desired.

    Aside from C-Mart

    The area has little access to grocery stores, places to buy general housewares, etc. That would be a problem for a family, even with zipcar.

    Let them speak for themselves

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    Although I share your sentiment 100%, there's something grating about telling other people, in whose neighborhood one doesn't live, what they do or don't need.