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Evolution of the North End Neighborhood (WGBH Greater Boston Video)

For decades, the North End was a world apart, an isolated enclave whose streets felt more like a town in Italy than a neighborhood in Boston. But now, thanks to the end of the Big Dig construction and the push of gentrification, the old North End may soon be an old memory.

Profiling the changing neighborhood dynamics in the North End, WGBH’s Adam Reilly highlights the surge in real estate prices and the resulting business-related comings and goings including the closing of century-old Boschetto’s Bakery and the opening of franchise chains such as Pinkberry’s Frozen Yogurt. State Rep. Aaron Michlewitz (D-North End) and Lucia Ristorante’s Donato Frattaroli are interviewed on Greater Boston by WGBH’s Gail Huff in the video.

28 Replies to “Evolution of the North End Neighborhood (WGBH Greater Boston Video)

  1. Greed has changed the North End. Quality products will be replaced by mass produced preservative ladened slop.

  2. The North End is no more. Strangers have taken over and all we have is phony restaurants that aren’t ever owned or run by Italians and the food isn’t real Italian. Look at what we have for chefs, most are not Italians.And look at the CRIME that’s going on EVERY day.Breaking and enterings, mugging, rapes, trash all over the streets,drugs is rampant etc. It’s a real shame, we never had this years ago. When the mafia ran it, there was none of this. you could walk at 3 in the morning, without worry, most of us left our doors unlocked. Can’t do that now. It seems that a bunch of animals have taken over and really…. it is a zoo now. Shame , but that’s what education has gotten us!!!!!

    1. I seriously think you folks show up just to get a rise out of people. At least the hipsters and their trashy music and stupid attitudes aren’t breaking any kneecaps.

    2. Vincent – The Irish occupied the North End well before any Italians. Neighborhoods change. Get over it.

  3. I listened to the above video, but neither Aaron or Donato mentioned that we have more liquor licenses than
    any other part of the City, and nobody seem to mention that rats are running around like crazy, even though
    the North End had the problem for years, but it has become much worse.

    I was also surprised that Aaron did not mention the chaos that has taken place on Fleet St. and now it is taking
    place at 35 Charter Street, where they are keeping other residents up all night and drugs deals are taking place. Where are the Fines that the Police are suppose to be giving out? Where are the Evictions?

    The North End has become like a Prostitute and every Pimp in the City wants a piece of Her.

    What are our City & State Officials doing about this, if you find out, let me now. It is all about Money and at
    every Residents’ Expense. The other Serious Problem is Absentee Slumlords, and it didn’t seem like
    either one of the guys mention that either. These Absentee Slumlords look at their properties as Cash Cows,
    they could careless about the Neighborhood, all they care about is the MONEY, like it or not these are the

    1. To all you complainers out there bickering about noise, trash, changing demographics, opportunists and parking… Please, please, please just move already.

      While I do sympathize with a desire to live in quaint little urban enclave smack dab on the peninsula of Boston’s downtown, I am a realist and understand that I won’t always get what I want living so closely with neighbors and visitors alike.

      Instead of complaining to the Police or suggesting we’d be better off living under the rule of La Costra Nostra understand that you are becoming a minority in a more diverse and populous city. Instead of complaining so much, try replacing your windows, sleeping with ear plugs, politely remind strangers sound echoes up the street, pick up some trash, support legislation to change liquor licensing in order to spawn creative/unique dining opportunities outside the North End, sell your car…. The list goes on.

      I am not condoning obnoxious and inconsiderate neighborly behavior but trying to point out that as the neighborhood (and city) evolve you might live a happier life evolving too rather than holding on to the way things were yesterday.

      1. We have no intentions of leaving the area. I have no objections to change. I do have objections
        to people screaming & yelling at all direct hours of the nite & early morning, having sex in doorways,
        and urinating inside or outside of doorways, throwing trash around like it is the City Dump and
        letting their dogs crap wherever they want & not picking it up. The No. End streets are disgusting
        and there is no need of it.

        We are not looking for gangsters from the past to come back, we are looking for a means of
        civilization. I don’t care what chains come in the neighborhood, but I do care when these
        ignorant people are walking on a sidewalk 2 or 3 across and don’t make any attempt to move over
        for others to walk by. This generation who moved into the No. End thinks that they are a
        generation of entitlement.

        I have lived in the No. End my entire life and I have never seen it in such deplorable conditions.
        Change is good, but not when people have no respect for the residents who have lived here long
        before they came into the area. Fleet St. had a problem tenant & she thought because her
        mother was a lawyer she was entitled to run parties & keep people up all nite, and didn’t care.

        By the way, I have soundproof windows & ear plugs, and when they get that loud, even those
        things do not help, but I AM NEVER LEAVING MY HOME, they should be the ones to live
        out of the No. End & rent houses where they can have all the wild parties they want without
        disturbing anyone’s life.

        1. Seems like it’s NO. END LANDLORD against the world!!!

          I am not sure if I believe you when you state “I have no objections to change” and “Change is good”. You said yourself, “I have lived in the No. End my entire life”, no desire for a change in scenery or perhaps?

          Your posts tend to come off threatening with presumptuous statements made in ALL CAPS that are often based off an individual’s experience or more a matter of personal opinion. I truly do empathize with some of the quality of life issues on this forum. However, I am immediately prone to play the devil’s advocate because I cannot stand side by side with your haughty attitude, displayed through your tone, often radiating the exact sense of entitlement, ignorance and arrogance you despise in the new North End.

          Hope everyone has a ruckus good time this weekend 😉

          1. GENTRIFICATION,

            I have no problem with change in the Neighborhood, I do have a problem with people

            like you who try to distort what I am saying. You can play the devil’s advocate

            all you want, I deal with the FACTS, like it or not. You are one of the people

            who do not respect this neighborhood.

          2. new gentrification
            unfortunately you revealed who is truly the ignorant and arrogant one in your disrespectful statement ( lets have a ruckus good time tonight )
            north end landlord states the actual facts that are results of the behavior and lack of respect of SOME of the residents in the North End.
            we seem to have some residents that lack the respect they should have for themselves, their neighbors and their community.
            obviously you are one them!
            this has nothing to do with which immigrants came to settle here first, or which demographics make up the population now.
            this is about the lack of respect for ones neighbor and community.
            this new sense of entitlement by some of the new residents is both foreign and alarming to some of the lifelong residents that still reside here.
            we remember, not to long ago, when our community was clean, safer, and neighbors had consideration for one another.
            what I find disturbing is how this generation does not mind living in filth, the streets of the north end were much cleaner when the demographics were families living below the poverty level, and large families of 5-8 lived in the spaces 2 people live in now.
            this debate has been going on for a long time.
            north end landlord tells the truth, this cannot be challenged.
            it may not sound pretty, but they are the facts!!
            we need more parents like Michal! kudos to you!
            new gentrification, use your education to help make positive changes in your community.
            you have been fortunate to be part of a generation to have the opportunity to achieve a higher education.
            telling people to just have a ruckus time, is so disrespectful to everyone who lives here, more importantly it exhibits a lack of self respect.


            1. I’d like to apologize for wishing everyone a great weekend, it certainly distracted attention from the original argument.

              We all seem to agree the neighborhood has and continues to change and that there certainly are some quality of life issues. What I am trying to combat is the perception that the influx of students and young professionals is at worst, directly responsible or minimally unsympathetic to the concerns of their neighbors.

              Let’s discuss the difference between fact vs. truth and how there isn’t much of either presented to support the following proclamations:
              – “I deal with FACTS”, “north end landlord states the actual facts”, “north end landlord tells the truth, this cannot be challenged.”, “it may not sound pretty, but they are the facts!!”

              In my defense of the young and restless please review the headlines below related to quality of life issues in the neighborhood and tell me if it is a FACT that the young entitled student and/or professional committed these specific acts or if it is a TRUTH that they are wholly or continually responsible for all related and like issues. I worry that the “facts and truths” communicated on these message boards are often only observations of an individual and overly discredit the new young residents as an entire group. Please be careful not to stereotype an entire generation of new residents as more often than not, headlines, like the examples below, suggest the majority of problems are not a direct result of the students and young professionals.

              Quality of Life Concerns:

              – Cleanliness
              o “What a Potty-Full Site on North Margin Street” – Jul. 24, 2013
              o “Disgusting Public Bathroom at Bocce Courts on Commercial Street” – Jul. 25, 2013
              o “Commercial Garbage Collection Trucks Leave Trails of Vomit-like Trash on the Streets” – Jul. 30, 2013

              – Crime
              o “District A-1: Three Robberies on Hanover Street in the Past Month” – Jul. 19, 2013
              o “Police Blotter: Motorcycle Stolen on Cooper Street” – Jul. 26, 2013
              o “Fight on Commercial Street Gets Out of Hand on Saturday Night” – Jun 9, 2013

              – Drugs
              o “Police Blotter: Hanover Street Assault, Mother / Son Drug Bust” – Jan. 18, 2013
              o “Police Blotter: Late Night Disorder and Drug Arrest” – Aug. 2, 2013

              – Noise / Nuisance
              o “Police Blotter: Sleepover Larceny, Bacco Windows Complaint and Commercial Street Assault” – Jun 13, 2013
              o “Bikers Cause Tension on Hanover Street” – Jul. 28, 2013

              In summation, demographics, economic prosperity, culture, social norms, etc. will continue to change. I see this change in the North End and city of Boston as primarily positive and believe there is no one particular group that is to blame for any resulting quality of life issues. I also feel strongly that we all have equal rights, whether you are living here as a student, a young professional, family or life-long resident. No one group deserves special consideration or respect. So I say to Michal’s son; You are not a guest, but a resident and member of the community. Please don’t mind you own business but engage your new environment, learn from the existing culture and share your own. I look forward to many more years living in an accepting, diverse and energetic North End.

      2. I thumbed down you just because you wrote “La Cosa Nostra”. Stop reading so many mob books.

  4. I think people need to accept the fact that this isn’t an actual Italian neighborhood anymore. The immigrants will not be coming as our parents did and this is simply a normal turnover. I would rather see this than have it turn to a ghetto.Yes, it was great back in the day….but its just not like that anymore.

    You guys also need to stop being obsessed with pinkberry. What do you expect? The neighborhood is mostly college kids and young professionals who work downtown….They are gonna clean up, and good for them. This is America and everyone has a right to open a business wherever they want.The real tragedy is the ridiculously overpriced fake Italian food we shovel down tourists throats if you ask me…

  5. However, on the opposite end if it weren’t for the ridiculous overpriced “fake” Italian food we wouldn’t have tourists coming to our neighborhood in the hordes that they do. I hate to say it but I think a cannoli from Mikes has become a bigger draw to out-of-towners than the history at Paul Revere’s House or Old North Church. Just something to consider when talking about the changing neighborhood.

  6. I remember when Italy won the World Cup- everyone came and celebrated – the North End was the place to be. There are still plenty of us with Italian roots who live here and who appreciate what an amazing part of the city this is. There is no better neighborhood.Where else can you walk to the harbor in five minutes, walk downtown in ten, and see the Constitution from the ball park?Walk to the Garden? And best of all be envied by all the tourists who wished they lived here…. but have to head home to their boring suburbia ? A toast to this little”village” that should be treasured by all who live here!

  7. My son has chosen to live in the north end while attending Law School. The rent and tuition is not cheap. He’s a good boy! He stays out of trouble! He’s aware of the neighborhood and it’s histroy. He has been told to respect the people and go to Catholic church on Sunday. I like the north end because i feel that my boy is safe in this nice city while going to school. But as I’ve said to him many times, you are here as a guest be careful, mind your on business, and respect the neighborhood like you do back home.

    1. Hats off to michal for educating and bringing his children up the right way. Manners,respect,education. This is how parents these days should do. Especially the ones that live in this neighborhood. Ever heard of this-“don’t s**t where you eat”

      1. Totally agree. There is no such thing as bad kids, there are only bad parents.
        Kudos to you, Michal for teaching your son right. If only more parents were like you, the neighborhood (and the world) would be a better place.

  8. Walk up and down Hanover on any given day and you will find people from all corners of the globe. Hanover is as much of a ‘neighborhood’ as Newbury Street, and the business owners wouldn’t have it any other way. Ask any one of them if they would like to North End to be the way it was before the Big Dig. If you get any other answer than ‘no’, then they are lying to your face.

    Mike’s and Modern are only in existence because of the tourist factor. You can only sell so many sugar cookies to the ‘neighborhood’ before you go out of business.

  9. I’ve been living here since 2001 (grew up 40 miles from here – and then since lived all over the country) , and can’t think of a better neighborhood in the world to raise my children. Their friends are both from the old and new north end, and the “old meets new”, in my humble opinion, seems to work very well here. Change does happen- but from my perspective, it’s not as bad as some people think. At least for one, I love living here. I love my friends – both old and new north enders. I appreciate being an ‘adopted’ North Ender very much, and know what this means to have people tell me this. Some “native” North Enders have told me they like it better here now. It’s true! I love the feasts, and SO appreciate the “original” North End families who stay and keep our traditions alive. As I type this, I’m listening to the Agrippina band go by my apartment – it’s fabulous to live here. I love Lucia, Regina, Umbertos, Al Dente AND Pinkberry and Starbucks! It is a beautiful neighborhood and a part of one of the most vibrant, alive, brilliant cities I’ve ever lived in. Boston, you’re my home! Viva North End !!

  10. Where else could you raise your kids in the medical mecca of the world, and have access to all the North End has to offer. Skating Rink, Baseball Fields, boats, lots of kids, Two GREAT schools, and even MORE great public and private schools (many of the country’s best). The more I think about it, the more I hope to stay here for ever. I am one who does embrace change. Best neighborhood in the world!

  11. The neighborhood has evolved over time. 20+ years ago all (the majority of) the families moved out of the neighborhood and schools closed and were turned into condos. Now the families are back and we are opening new schools! Thank goodness. Hopefully some of these slumlords will sell their units to families looking to stay and able to rehab them.

    I think the majority of the people that disrespect the neighborhood are not the ones that live here and not the tourists either – they are the ones that left or families left that come back into town thinking they own it – and actually they don’t – they don’t even own a place here.

  12. I Attended the ceremony Friday night for Larry who I met carrying the statue of St. Agrippina over 50 years ago and. I can honestly say he was one of the nicest people that I have ever met in my life.The feast will never be the same without Larry but I know that his sons Warren And Nicky will keep the tradition going.I was given the honor of being allowed to carry the saint for a few stops after the ceremony. RIP Larry And VIva St Agrippina. Michael [chippy] DeLellis

  13. New Gentrification
    With all due respect, i am confused here!
    Contextmomy; how can you apologize for wishing everyone to have a good weekend.
    You said; Hope everyone has a RUCKUS good time this weekend.
    I can see why you can’t comprehend TRUTH!
    Ruckus means, noisy, rowdy, and unruly behavior.
    You are trying to combat the perception of your documented plea to your age demographics to be noisy, rowdy, and unruly in their new neighborhood, just to disturb the lives of some of the middle aged and elderly residents of the North End.
    You want to discuss the facts or truth, you are delusional!
    You do not want any one group/demographic to have consideration or respect for each other?
    It is not any one person or group against the young professionals or college students in the North End, most of them are very considerate and respectful of their neighbors and community.
    This is something that you blatantly denounce, it does not matter where you live now or in the future, without respect and compassion for one another as human beings, you will really only be existing, not living.
    You are the type of resident that no one truly wants as a neighbor in their community.
    Michal’s point to his son was one of common sense and wisdom.
    Common sense is priceless, but often illusive and unattainable for some.
    The police blotter incidents are nothing new here, although you did forget to list how the intoxicated young lady fell off the Hanover street roof, and that the fight on Commercial street was between young adults.
    The police do not report every screaming intoxicated person, or the the young people urinating, vomiting and vandalizing the neighborhood and our property each weekend.
    Yes people of all ages are guilty of these acts while intoxicated, and some are committed by visitors and transients in the community, but the facts are that most of this behavior is by the younger population.
    This is just the facts! just how the demographics weigh out in this neighborhood.
    I have no problem with someone presenting their case in defending a purpose, a topic or themselves, and of course we all have our own opinions and emotions to cloud our judgement or sometimes distort the facts or truth.
    It is your blatant disrespect for this neighborhood,and the immigrants who founded and shaped this historic section of Boston, and more importantly the role your generation will play in the future of this great city.
    I am not truly sure what plagues you, but if you truly love the new North End, than respect It and all of it’s residents. this is not a fraternity house.
    You can start by just being honest, admit to yourself what you have already committed to in writing, that would be a start; everyone lashes out once in awhile.
    Best Regards,

  14. Don’t get annoyed if your neighbor plays his music too loud or has a party that keeps you awake until 2 in the morning. Call him at 4: a.m. and tell him how much you enjoyed it.

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