Writer at the Braintee Herald whitesplains Boston to us

Somebody tweets a question about buying a condo "in Boston" and Tom Shattuck, a writer at the Herald, replies:

Beacon Hill = Boston
Back Bay = Boston
Fenway = Boston
North End = Boston
West End = Boston
Bay Village = Boston
South End = mostly Boston
Seaport District = Dubai
Southie = Not Boston
Roxy = Not Boston
Dorchester = not Boston
East Boston, J.P., Allston, Brighton = not Boston

He goes on to explain that, as far as we can figure out, only neighborhoods with brownstones and Duck Tour routes qualify. The part about neighborhoods with large minority populations, like "Roxy," not being part of his concept of Boston goes without saying.



Free tagging: 




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Are any of the ones he said that aren’t Boston, part of the city proper?

Doesn't matter

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First, let's not get into another debate about what "Boston Proper" is, because the last time we discussed that, there were some sharp opinions on what it includes. I still have some wounds from that one :-).

Second, people who live in "Roxy" or one of the neighborhoods he didn't even mention (Roslindale and Hyde Park for example) are Bostonians. We pay taxes to Boston, we get Boston Police or Fire when we call 911, we vote for the mayor of Boston, our kids can take a test to to go Boston Latin and all of these places he says are not "Boston" have been part of the city for more than 100 years at this point. They're Boston. Period. End of story.

Maybe he was trying to be funny, but his tweet wound up being more racist than anything else.



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Everyone always forgets the neighborhood you have to prove to people is actually a neighborhood! That racist DB left out a whole swath of folks with million dollar row homes! BASTARD!


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His racist elitist little mind just totally made it up. Makes as much sense as Beacony Hilly. I live in Dorchester btw, which the last time I looked is part of Boston.


You win

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...for Beacony Hilly. Don't know why but that really made me laugh.


Tom Shattuck

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I read his comments. I thought them stupid and clueless. Even elitist. I think that the word 'racism' is overused today. I don't see that in his comments. He's another person who when asked from where they're from, replies 'Boston.'
I see he resides in West Newbury. That's pretty gritty. One thing that struck me was the photo of the dog at the top of his page. It looks like it was taken on a commuter train. That to me says a lot.


This is definitely not racist

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Unless someone wants to explain to me how calling South Boston "nor Boston" is racist, or for that matter how lumping in South Boston and Roxbury is an indication of any sort of racial intention.

As for the leaving out of the almighty bottom 4 (Roslindale, Mattapan, Hyde Park, and West Roxbury,) I think that would be a conversation along the lines of what is Boston Proper, which is a messy one as Adam notes. But again, grouping in Mattapan and West Roxbury is a very odd dog whistle, so again, not racist. Whether or not Shattuck is racist overall is another story, but this is not evidence of it.


Here we go again

with the rules of racism.

Unless a sentiment is unequivocally abhorrent in every way, leaving no room for misinterpretation, it is not racist.

For should we examine the attitudes that would lead a writer for the Boston Herald--whose job is ostensibly to be knowledgable about the Boston area--to declare Dorchester and Roxbury not part of Boston, we would certainly slide down that slippery slope toward declaring ALL white people racist.

Lest you missed it

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He also called Southie, JP, Allston and Brighton "not Boston".

To be fair, I think that's pretty equal opportunity.

Classist, perhaps. Geographist - definitely. Racist - not really.



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Apparently he hates black people and white people equally (and maybe others as well)?

Your comment is rather trollishly nonsensical.

My head's spinning with these comments

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When I read his reply to what I wrote, I composed something similar to what you wrote, but then I read it again. He might be agreeing with me. Or he might be trolling, which was kind of cool.

Or he keeps on ignoring the Southie part. Or doesn't know about the racial makeup of South Boston. Or, and this is a big one, he is a she, in which case sorry calling her "he."


it was the language I used. How about this:

Just because he mentioned his indifference for other parts of Boston doesn't mean his disdain for Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan isn't related to race. Like, I honestly don't get how that's so fucking hard to understand?

The other guy that replied was willing to invoke classism, as though class and race are unrelated. Why is it a bridge too far to recognize that maybe race is a factor when people deem those neighborhoods unviable for prospective renters?

You're wasting your time

Just because he mentioned his indifference for other parts of Boston doesn't mean his disdain for Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan isn't related to race. Like, I honestly don't get how that's so fucking hard to understand?

It ain't rocket science. It's pretty fucking obvious to anyone who isn't threatened by the idea that a lot of white people are racist.

But apparently a lot of people *are* threatened when they become dimly aware of the level of racism that exists in our country, and are unwilling to declare that any white person, anywhere, is racist unless they are actually hanging a black person from a tree at this very moment (and even then, there's some wiggle room).

Even if Shattuck had written "These neighborhoods aren't really part of Boston because they have too many colored people", the usual suspects would be lining up to explain that he wasn't racist because he didn't use the n-word or some other delusional bullshit.



I mean these people are seriously talking about "geography" like Roxbury is a troop from DTX or Back Bay. lol

Well, yeah

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But his tweet isn’t proof.

Most hockey fans are white. Most hockey players are white. That said, being a fan of hockey doesn’t indicate that the fan only likes white people. Using racial epithets against black players, on the other hand, is proof of racism.

a better comparison would be if

you said "black people just aren't good at hockey".

the dearth of black players in hockey would certainly suggest that conclusion, but there are other factors that contradict it. the willful ignorance of those ideas is called racism.

By the way

My initial comment was sarcasm all the way. Christ lol I basically wrote "white people are never racist" and you were like "wait, yeah he has a point"


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Reading through these comments, you seem to be about the most racist person out here.

Not to mention...

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He is ignoring the neighborhoods (wards and precincts) with the highest voter turnouts. AKA The voters who CARE about how the city is run and have the power to make that happen!

Turnout for the primary this year was 100,333, or 25 percent of Boston’s 403,560 registered voters. The Election Results for November are not posted on the city of Boston site.

His Boston

  • Beacon Hill = Ward 5 - (Precinct 3,4,5) - 23% Average
  • Back Bay = Ward 5 - (Precinct 6,7,8,9,10) - 19% average
  • Fenway = Ward 5/Precinct 2, Ward 4 Precinct 7&8 and,9,10(lowest turnout in the city) Ward 21 Precinct 1&2 THE LOWEST) - 14% average
  • North End = Ward 3 (Precinct 1,2,3,4) - 18% average
  • West End = Ward 3 Precinct 5 - 21%
  • Bay Village =Ward 5 (1 & 3) Average 23%

HIS Not Boston

  • Southie = Ward 6 (Precinct 5,6,7,8,9), 24% Ward 7 (Precinct 1,2,3) 26%
  • Roxbury - Ward 12 (Precinct 1,3,4,5,6 ) 26%
  • Dorchester = Ward 15 - 21%, War 16 - 28%, Ward 17 - 27%
  • East Boston = Ward 1 = 20.37%
  • J.P = Ward 19 - 41% (HIGHEST %IN THE CITY and 3rd highest number of ballots)
  • Allston/Brighton = Ward 22= 23%

Not Listed:

  • Mission Hill - Ward 10 - 28 %
  • Egleston Square/StonyBrook - Ward 11 - 32%
  • West Roxbury/Roslindale - Ward 20 - 34% with Precinct 4 at 49% (2nd highest number of ballots)
  • Hyde Park - Ward 18 - 29% ( Not to mention the highest number of ballots in the city)



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Aren't all the Boston hoods in a Boston zip and the others are in zip with the neighborhood name?

As for the seaport, we actually refer to it as Singapore, not Dubai.


Definitely works

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But every zip has an associated city/town/place name.

02131 is Roslindale with Boston listed as a secondary. Other boston neighborhoods are probably the same.

All the neighborhoods above I think have Boston as a primary in their main zips, although of course not all zips correspond to neighborhood borders, which themselves are subject to interpretation.

Not quite

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But every zip has an associated city/town.

Which city or town is associated with 02467?

Hint: Newton, Brookline, Boston.

I have no idea if there are others like that.

Chestnut Hill

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or boston College.

Not Newton and not Brookline.

Edited above- city, town or place name.

Interesting observation I always found funny.

Although I haven't in a while, I've probably looked at 10,000 Mass licenses in my career. The only ones who ever listed "Chestnut Hill" as an address, were those who lived on Broadlawn Park/Byron Rd in Newton, or in those apartments on Independence/Thornton Rd/ etc in the Westbrook Village section of Brookline/Boston.

Never seen a home owner who lived in Chestnut Hill actually put "Chestnut Hill" on their license. It was always either Brookline or Newton renters in those complexes.

Ssh ...

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Don't let outsiders know about Jim's Deli.


My apologies, but I outed Jim's Deli

in The Boston Phoenix back in 2009. Also very sorry I tipped off Guy Fieri's producers to Rino's Place the same year (though the great Marc Hurwitz also recommended it to them). You can curse us both the next time you have a two-hour wait there on a weekend night. I can only go at lunch, haven't been able to do that for a couple of years, a hell of my own partial making.


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His criteria is completely geographic you fool. Zero to do with race. But hey, someone can always find an excuse.....


Yeah, Adam!

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It's just a coincidence that he excluded all the majority black neighborhoods! And the fact that he included one token white neighborhood (Southie) is definitely evidence that he's not racist.


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You mean both majority black neighborhoods? Unless you want to just start grouping race how you see fit to support your argument. I’d love to hear more on this.

location location location

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The context for the post was about buying real estate, and there is a convention (e.g. in Baker & Tradesman) of labeling areas closer to downtown as "Boston," as opposed to outlying areas such as East Boston or West Roxbury. I know that's not the practice of most average people in the city, who (like myself) have spent much of their life in the more provincial or marginal reaches of "not Boston."

Though I only went to college in NYC, it was always clear to me that the city there meant all five boroughs. I thought school mates from Brooklyn or the Bronx were just as much as New York and those from Harlem or SoHo. Is the sense of division between city and neighborhoods more pronounced in Boston? Is so, it says something interesting about us that I'm still trying to understand.

You thought wrong

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Those of us who grew up in Manhattan know that "the city" means our little island. Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx - all "the outer boroughs". And Staten Island doesn't count at all.


Been to New York lately?

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"Going into the city" means going into the lower half of Manhattan. But the idea that only people from Manhattan are from New York City died a while back. The rest of the city has the population of your little island outnumbered by 5:1.

Piling on

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Grew up north of the city. "Going to the city" meant Manhattan. I would never say that if I were visiting my grandparents in Queens. However, if you met someone from any of the boroughs, they would simply say they lived in the city.

And even if u lived just 45 minutes north, you were considered to live upstate. Unless you lived there. For us upstate was like near route 90 - albany,syracuse and buffalo.


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My parents referred to the Westchester side of McLean Avenue non-jokingly as upstate.

A lot of people don't realize that Manhattan goes to 220th St. Going "to the city" tends to mean the part below 125th St. I've never heard of someone going to a party in Harlem or Washington Heights say they were "going into the city."

Clarification/Fun Fact

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People from Brooklyn and Queens who say they are from New York City (because they are) will also say "I'm going into the city" to mean going into Manhattan. Usually Midtown, which is actually the main downtown, as opposed to Downtown, which has less office space!


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When my house millennials head to NYC, they spend at least half their time staying in Brooklyn and eating their way through the many nice little places.

another ex-New Yorker checking in

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No, people who said they were going "into the city" didn't mean Queens, where I grew up--but they also didn't mean the neighborhood I used to live in, which we cheerfully referred to as "upstate Manhattan" or "Baja Bronx." I got used to explaining "yes, Manhattan really does go that far north."

Every few years the NY Times real estate section would "discover" Inwood--and then discover, again, that all those newspaper articles didn't shorten the commute to Midtown or Wall Street. I had an easier commute from Astoria (Queens) than when I was coming from a part of Manhattan where straightforward directions to my house started "take the A train until you run out of A train, and then walk." ("Started" because I did tell them which direction to walk when they got off the train.)

In a people, not real estate, sense it's the opposite to me

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I'm formerly from Dot but decidedly not OFD.

I happen to think the outer, more residential, neighborhoods are much more "Boston" than the more cosmopolitan spots like Seaport, much of Southie, or South End or Back Bay are.

Hey, to each his own and I welcome all but I'll put it like this:

You see a lot more Yankees caps in the Seaport than you do in Dot.


Preaching to the choir

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To be fair, the OT (original tweeter?)'s profile is

Conservative, Daughter of a Police Officer, Veg, Future Attorney, Aspiring Politician, Pro-Life, History Major, and Patriot.

She seems to spend time RTing Jeff Jacoby.

So she's probably interested in this level of analysis.

Aspiring politician … good luck running for office outside of Southie in 1975.


Cities are made of neighborhoods.

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Neighborhoods are not municipalities. Thus they don't have finite borders. They're defined by the people who live there, and they change over time. Zip codes do not define neighborhoods.

Boston and Queens are the only places I know of where people write their neighborhood name on their mail. This confuses outsiders, who think places like Allston and Fresh Meadows are towns, but they are really building blocks of larger cities.

It doesn't help that in every other city, "proper" means "within the municipal boundary." Of course, in Boston, it means something else. And nobody agrees on what it means.

One thing that always drives me nuts is when people say a place is "technically" a part of another place. For example, "West Roxbury is technically part of Boston" or "Bay Ridge is technically part of New York City." Either it is or it isn't.

The people paying city taxes and water bills and depending on city police, fire, sanitation (etc.) services tend to have a different point of view from that of suburban outsiders clawing for status. Of course, facts are also convenient.


Bronx too

If you're from Riverdale, you usually don't write "Bronx" on your address.

Whitesplains? Some more

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Whitesplains? Some more reverse racism on UHub. This site reeks of white guilt. It must me tough hating the skin you live in.

Is blacksplains a word?


So much disdain

If you find the site so offensive, why do you read it? Generally, people who frequent places they dislike, and constantly criticize those who do like them, are trolls. Are you a troll?



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...you morphed Adam's characterization of this Heraldite's comment as whitesplaining, as someone calling you a racist.

No wonder you're cranky and angry. Maybe you should find a more congenial site.


To be fair, 'whitesplaining' was inaccurate in this instance

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Adam's choice of headline did make it sound like Shattuck's breakdown was primarily based on racial makeup of the neighborhoods, when it's pretty clear that his bisection was more classist than anything. So yes, race is part of it, but social and geographical distinctions even more so. The neighborhoods he listed were the one with the attractive, mostly 19th century buildings that get featured in stories about 'Historic Boston'. Is 'historomantism' a word? It applies here.

I suspect Shattuck's bias in this case would be more accurately described as "suburbascuring".

Yeah, right

it's pretty clear that his bisection was more classist than anything.

Makes perfect sense. There's no way a list that explicitly excludes these neighborhoods could possibly racist.

East Boston

Cherry picking?

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He also excluded:
West Roxbury
Hyde Park


- Both JP and Allston/Brighton are primarily white.
- He called Southie 'not Boston', and that's about the whitest neighborhood in the city.
- He put Fenway on the 'Boston' list, and that neighborhood has been majority-minority for more than a decade.

I get it though - he's a Herald guy, likely biased in all sorts of ways both you and I would find distasteful (gotta admit I don't know from Herald staff). But the 'romantic 19th century building stock' bias I suggested fits his list way better than the race bias you're trying to lay onto it.

(Look, he called Roxbury 'Roxy' and didn't call Dorchester 'Dot', so I think we can just agree that he's an idiot.)

JP and A/B may be majority

JP and A/B may be majority white, but they've always been known (e.g. for my entire lifetime) as neighborhoods with lots of immigrants of color.

The percentages may have changed in recent years but I'm betting Shattuck is an old fart like myself.

Neither, you're just sheltered.

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Unable to see within the context of Shattuck's other replies and tweets that give creedence to accusations of him being racist, willfully or not.

That's what people refer to as "being in a bubble".


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White people saying, or doing, racist things are one of the few non-surprises left in this crazy world. White people only like other white people. And even that has some caveats to it.

So not true, I do not like

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So not true, I do not like white people...Other than myself and fam / friends. White people can be very miserable Braintree trains v Ashmont trains on red line. Give me the Ashmont anyday


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I wrote about residential real estate for the Herald for two years or so, and I don't know what Tom is talking about here.

He's not a writer ...

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Tom Shattuck is the editorial page editor. He's MANAGEMENT at the Herald.

I keep trying to say

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I keep trying to say something about this and stumbling over "Roxy".

I just. What?


(And this is a HERALD writer. Oughta know better.)

most idiotic thing have have read in a long while

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The tweet is just plain idiotic, poorly-thought, and inaccurate to start.

It's written by/for someone who knows little about the City of Boston.

If he wanted to offer suggestions on places with "old brownstone" type of architecture (which he neglects to clarify), the neighborhoods he lists as "Boston" are somewhat accurate - although parts of South Boston, Dorchester, and Roxbury have those as well - so he is ignorant. He should have also clarified that all of these neighborhoods will require a million dollar price tag just to get in the door.

Sadly, he is doing something that LOTS of people do. They talk about Boston (and its neighborhoods) with authority when they 1. don't actually live here, 2. know little/nothing about our neighborhoods 3. Have no roots or history in said neighborhoods.

I recently heard a person talking about Dorchester as a place to avoid in the City. I asked what part of Dorchester they were talking about and they responded with a blank stare. They simply took a soundbite from the news and applied it to an entire neighborhood. Meanwhile, the person lives along the Route 20 corridor past the W Towns.Totally clueless about Dorchester (and Boston) but feels confident in spreading complete bullshit.

I think this is more of the same. I find it idiotic, misinformed, and very elitist but not racist.

Adam, I LOVE you and UHUB but not every idiotic post by a white guy is "whitesplaining" or racist. For chrissakes, this guy literally describes the duck boat tour route with his list and left out the VAST MAJORITY of the City - like almost the entire City of Boston's land mass (including many neighborhoods that are predominantly black, predominantly white, and very diverse), yet your take away is that he is being racist? that he is ""whitesplaining"? Come on Adam, you as a Bostonian (with knowledge of neighborhood make-up) know this as well as anyone.

and what does that do in turn? Brings out all of the commenters (many of whom also live outside of Boston (who still think Southie is still all old guys like Wacko Hurly), to chime in and say See!,..Boston being racist again, typical Boston, everything is racist.

Reminder - the Shattuck guy doesn't even live in Boston.

The reality is that there IS racism in our City (institutional, subtle, and overt). And we need to combat it as a group head on. But when this post is clearly just an idiotic list (and offensive to actual Bostonians) - it should be labeled as such. And likewise, racism should be confronted on all levels and labeled as such.

Personally, I am thankful that Rozzie was left off the list. If one of my neighbors referred to Roxbury as "Roxy" I would refuse to help shovel out their car, and they would be disinvited to the block party. Just sayin.

Be kind to each other friends, life is too short to be hateful.


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R-E-L-A-X Downtown Boston is what is is trying to describe....race blah blah He didn't mention my neighborhood...Get Over IT


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This logic would make sense to some of my neighbors. Neighbors who have a field day with anyone who puts Boston on their mailing address. (Pokes at mail in new transplant neighbor’s hand. Too precious to admit you live in Dorchester huh?)

And Chinatown!

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I wonder if Chinatown is Boston or Not Boston?