Old Boston posts an aerial photo that shows the neighborhood's street layout, just without any buildings, so possibly sometime in 1959.
A poignant reminder of one of the most tragic decisions of city planning in the 20th century.
Why tragic? You know, if it hadn't have occurred, all the poor minorities would be leaving there instead of Roxbury and Dorcestor. Don't fool yourself into thinking some Utopia was destroyed.
Pictures of the West End reminded me of Beacon Hill, except a little bit shabbier. Assuming it actually is "blighted" (which was disputed by residents at the time), a neighborhood like that could easily improve gradually.
The current highrises are nothing like Beacon Hill, and never will be.
Doesn't that seem much more likely?
A place does not have to be a utopia to be worth saving. Nowhere would be worth saving, if that were the case.
The West End of the 50s was a classic example of an unslumming neighborhood. If it had been allowed to continue, it probably would have followed a similar track to the North End. I'm not sure what you are getting at with your reference to poor minorities.
Herbert Gans, among others, wrote extensively about it in the early 60s, including the book The Urban Villagers, if you are interested in this topic more deeply.
The north slope of Beacon Hill is largely inhabited by students and people below the age of 30. They have their own set of characteristics that can make a neighborhood undesirable. I would guess if the West End was left alone it would look a lot like the North Slope of Beacon Hill, although maybe without the wealthy people stuck in among the student and recent graduate housing.
So, my first attempt at a "Before and After" slider image. You can see what the West End looked like circa 1959 and circa 2010.
That's really cool - thanks for sharing that with us.