On April 25, 1968, South End residents held a sit-in at what was then a Boston Redevelopment Authority office in an old fire house on Warren Avenue in the South End, to protest the authority's large-scale South End urban-renewal plans that would force thousands of residents to move.
The former fire house (on the right) and the neighboring building with one of the area's wholesale florists, remain to this day, now as condos:
In the early 1960s, the BRA designated pretty much the entire South End as an "urban renewal" district and planned to buy up property - and move out up "1,730 families and 1,820 single person households" - to eliminate what the BRA called "severe conditions of blight, deterioration, obsolescence, traffic congestion and incompatible land uses" to create a nirvana of "neighborhood, industrial, commercial and institutional stability."
But as in the even more completely urban-renewed West End, people actually lived in the South End. And on the morning of April 25, the Community Assembly for a United South End took over the office the BRA had set up to handle relocation of South End residents and businesses, to protest the way all the new construction would displace the neighborhood's residents in favor of people with a lot more disposable income.
By 2 p.m., Mayor White had had enough and drove over from City Hall to try to get the protesters to leave. But as the Evening Globe reported:
A burly protester, identified as John Marshall, president of CAUSE (Community Assembly for a United South End) blocked the mayor from entering the office area. He never got beyond the lobby.
"This is city property, I'm going through," White said in strong tones.
"This is public power," Marshall retorted.
White looks out over protesters (source):
After school let out at the McKay, students peered inside (source):
Cops lined up in case of trouble that never came (source):
The protesters finally left in the evening, perhaps winning a battle: The South End was not bulldozed the way the West End was, and many of the buildings planned for demolition were instead rehabbed.
But with a few exceptions, such as Villa Victoria and the Cathedral housing development, the South End today is the epitome of an upper-income Boston neighborhood.
Photos from the BPL Brearley collection posted under this Creative Commons license.