Our geography confuses New Yorkers

The Wall Street Journal has a nice overview of all the new residential projects attracting rich white people to the Washington Street corridor that starts this way:

New high-rise developments are transforming the neighborhood once called 'the Combat Zone'

It is only a seven-minute commute by foot from Boston's Downtown Crossing to the office of Ben Howe, co-founder and CEO of investment-banking firm AGC Partners, in the Financial District. But until recently, Mr. Howe wouldn't have considered living in the neighborhood, which over the years has been nicknamed the Combat Zone and the Red-Light District.

Um, no, dear titans of finance: The Combat Zone was in Chinatown. Granted, it was right down Washington Street from Downtown Crossing, and granted, much of the same sort of development happening in Downtown Crossing is happening in Chinatown (in fact, most of the projects on the Journal's map are in Chinatown), but matrons shopping at Jordan Marsh never mixed with the strippers down by LaGrange.

H/t a very angry Craig Caplan.

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Comments

A tad more than Chinatown,

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A tad more than Chinatown, there were joints on Tremont street , and others extending to Park Square. like the Teddy Bear , also the Playboy Club. and you could include the nefarious Hillbilly Ranch I think. It was more than geographic , it was an ambiance, a vibe , a mode de vie that hung over the area like a cloud. Even the hot dog stand on Washington @ Lagrange , Dirty John's, reflected the spirit of Izzy Ott land.

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Where did it all go?

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Can somebody explain why there was so much more sleaze in the city (and most other cities for that matter) in the 70s and 80s then there is today? It's not like it moved to a different part of the city or out of the city. It's just gone.

Where was the demand that brought these businesses in, and where is that demand now?

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It's still here

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only now it's moved to the internet. Girls are still available on Backpage and in case you hadn't noticed , porn isn't confined to old vaudeville theaters anymore. There is no shame on the internet, the way there was if you got caught getting a blowjob in your car in the parking lot near Good Time Charlie's.

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Without

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Porn the internet never would have grown to what it is today.....

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Where did the demand go?

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Maybe everyone is right, that it went to Internet porn. But it's an intriguing cultural distinction that Boston has always had way few stripper joints than, at least, a city the size of Atlanta. I moved from Boston to Atlanta in the late 1980s, and was fascinated that there seemed to be stripper bars every few blocks in the Atlanta area, while up here they were (rightfully, I think) ghettoized in one area. There are still lots of stripper bars in Atlanta, despite Internet porn. So all along the timeline, I'm not sure what accounts for the difference between the two cities in the stripper economy.

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Baltimore still has a fairly

Baltimore still has a fairly infamous row of strip joints and sex shops known as "The Block," right in the middle of their central business district.

perhaps

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The legacy of Puritanism here in Boston?

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VHS

VHS killed the porno theater and peeps booths, THEN cable and the Internet started killing DVD, Blu-Ray porn. Doesn't explain damage to strip clubs so much other than women/"co-eds" could more anonymously work as dancers/models prior to having their images potentially end up everywhere on the Internet.

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Scollay Sq

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IIRC, the "Combat Zone" got started when Govt. Center was built and replaced Scollay Sq. It was zoned to allow for "adult" entertainment. It kind of hit a peak in the '70's. The Andy Puopolo murder in '76 brought a lot of attention that put police and regulatory pressure on it, with the City working on redevelopment of the theater district and getting Emerson to move into the area pretty much coincided with the move of porn to VHS and the internet. It's sort of ironic that it's becoming a more upscale residential area. Before it became all commercial Tremont St. was considered one of the most desirable addresses in the city before the Back Bay got developed.

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I don't see any reference to

I don't see any reference to just attracting "white people" in the article.

If you want to attribute it to people with more money, then by all means, there are facts to back it up (the price of units). However, this has nothing to do with race.

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Especially since a lot of the

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Especially since a lot of the people investing in these projects aren't even American. I don't think Chinese people are white yet.

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"Race-baiting"

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Anyone who thinks that Adam's comments above are such probably needs to head immediately to the story on Peggy O'Neil's to pontificate on how white people are discriminated against too because someone once reminded them they're white.

Amazing.

It's a liberal thing

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The whole idea that all blacks are our misguided little brothers incapable of succeeding in life, who need to be hand-held and spoon-fed cradle to grave, and any successful, educated black man who's not a sports star or a sharptonesque race hustler is just a white man in disguise.

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What a well reasoned argument

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What a well reasoned argument! The many valid points of verifiable and applicable evidence you provide really sealed it. Congrats, Critical Thinker!

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"race hustler"

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People who *aren't* racists don't ever use this term because it's incredibly racist. But thanks for your concern trolling! Much appreciated.

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I thought that part of

I thought that part of Washington (shown in the WSJ photo) was part of the Combat Zone. I seem to remember a few adult newsstands lingering well into the late 90s over there.

Regardless of what you call it, there was a noticeable change in DTC once you got south of Franklin.

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Millenium Partners Spin Zone

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Having owned businesses of one kind or another in Downtown Crossing for over 25 years I have to say that allowing these rich developers to rewrite history to sell condos is BS.

The Zone was always North of Avery Street. Downtown Crossing was never a "Red Light" district.

Calling it that is irresponsible. They can hope that it will be a Beverly Hills like Disneyland after they build their tower. They can attempt to push out all the Mom and Pops and small businesses and replace them with fancy , high rent paying European retailers. They can even hope that all the inner city people of color leave and go back to wherever they came from.

But reality will creep back in. Downtown Crossing is an urban landscape frequented by everyone.
All colors, creeds, nationalities and from all walks of life. The market will dictate what comes next.

BUT, it was never the fucking Combat Zone.

http://cappyinboston.blogspot.com/

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North of Avery

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Yes, Washington and Avery - the Prince Spaghetti House! Ate there once with Mother and siblings... down the block was the Essex Deli, got pastrami on a bulkie there many a time after shopping ... there were "regular" places to go there in the Zone

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Cappy, you rock. And I agree

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Cappy, you rock. And I agree that DC is, and will remain a "urban landscape frequented by everyone", but the Millennium tower is going to change things, Copley is going to look like a suburban strip mall in comparison.

The times, they are a changin'

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More geography gotcha. Aren't

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More geography gotcha. Aren't we picking nits here? DTX transforms into Chinatown along Washington Street in the space of a couple hundred feet. Nuances like these are lost on the WSJ. I'm more annoyed that the video they posted showed a photo of Copley Square.

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Exactly. Four of the seven

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Exactly. Four of the seven projects they depict are clearly in the old Combat Zone.

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Gated community

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David Muller, CEO of medical device and pharmaceutical company Avedro and founder of Summit Technology, which developed Lasik eye surgery, likens the building to a "gated community," and sees that as a benefit.

And when your car takes you right into the building, and you never have to actually walk the streets or, heaven forbid, descend into the T, isn't life grand?

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I'm still offended that 45

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I'm still offended that 45 Province was allowed to chew up the streetscape into a car zone. All the effort that goes into zoning and planning, and this is what we're stuck with? http://goo.gl/maps/t83ul

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Puzzling

New Yorkers that I know - people who live right in Manhattan and Brooklyn - are often the ones who complain that people from other places don't understand the fine distinctions and often sharp boundaries between one place and another that is very close by.

And here they do it to Boston.

I'd expect this of a Midwest or Southern or California paper, but The Wall Street Journal really should know better.

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We are talking about a paper

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We are talking about a paper called the Wall Street Journal which has a headquarters in Midtown...

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LOL

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Touche', Finn!!

And we are also talking about

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And we are also talking about a paper that doesn't claim to be a New York newspaper. It's a business paper with a national and international audience and has the largest circulation of any paper in the US. Do you think people reading this article in LA or Dubai or London are misunderstanding the point of the article because the author conflated two adjacent areas?

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So what you're saying is

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So what you're saying is accuracy only matters when the intended audience of the piece would be able to spot any errors?

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To be honest, I don't really care what people in Dubai think

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Although if any are listening, please know that I really love your hysterically laughing flight-attendant ads when the woman in the center has her regular eyes replaced with googly eyes.

Ahem, in any case, this is a Boston site, not the Jet Setting World Traveler site, so, yeah, I'm going to think my readers might care about this.

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This is a city

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...that calls as its own two football teams that play in [shudder] New Jersey, remember

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Chinatown has expanded westward over the years

When I first got here in the 1970s, Chinatown was the area around Tyler, Beach, and Kneeland streets. Anything around Essex and Washington was strictly 'Combat Zone'. The Zone blended into the 'Theatre District' on Tremont and Boylston streets.

The city of Boston later encouraged Chinese businesses to expand westward and gradually displace the by-then-unwanted 'Zone' businesses. Renaming the Orange Line station from 'Essex' to 'Chinatown' in 1987 helped to accelerate this trend.

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Confused New Yorkers

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should know better than to call it "East Broadway Street".

bha was the new zone for a while

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Blue hill Avenue was the new combat zone for a while...mostly the stretch starting in Roxbury and down to morton street....but merino started a task force and cleaned it up a bit over the last five years...not sure where it moved to.

Wow!

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but merino started a task force and cleaned it up a bit over the last five years

Those must have been some pretty remarkable sheep! No wonder they got the job done!