UNITY ST (a link that runs parallel between Salem St. and Hanover St.) — feeding from the head of Garden Court, Unity Street is a narrow passageway that serves as a vessel for the surrounding streets- Hanover St, Charter St, Tileston St, Salem St.   Unity Street is also an old neighborhood watermark. Centuries ago, the street was part of the rim that lapsed the outskirts of the old Mill Pond.

18th century Map of Boston- shows Mill Pond, North End and Vicinity. Map of [1743] Boston, Courtesy of Boston Public Library.
18th century Map of Boston- shows Mill Pond, North End and Vicinity.
Image is Courtesy of Boston Public Library.

The streets of Boston’s historic neighborhoods are best characterized not by individual events, but by their ever-evolving nature. From time to time, urban communities- like Boston’s North End, can fall victim to neighborhood crime. Recently, Unity Street surveillance has shed less than favorable light on a neighborhood street that has long been considered part of “a small city within a big city. Strutting through its streets was a pleasure, never fearing to be molested or bothered by anyone.” (Portrait of an Italian-American Neighborhood: The North End of Boston, Anthony V. Ricco).

Riccio’s book is a social history that also serves as a neighborhood role model– in order to preserve the stories of these precious streets, it requires community conversation. In Riccio’s book, Unity Street is highlighted as in the excerpt- ‘Tribute money’- Salvatore Palmerozzo’s oracle account that attempts to describe the Italian man at work (in early twentieth-century North End): 

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“They used to hire then [immigrant laborers] by the day, 50 or 60 guys used to line up on Unity Street every morning and they’d pick 10 or 12 of them to go work on construction jobs. Ninety percent of laborers were pick and shovel. They worked 10 hour days, 6 days a week, for $12. Everybody had to pay a ‘$2 tribute’ that went to the boys. There was a fella- ‘tough Tony’ was his name. Every week he’d come by for your $2- if you didn’t give it to him, you got your legs broken. And one guy who lived in the apartment behind mine, a married fella, 23 years old, from Italy, refused to pay the tribute money. So one day they shot him on Unity Street. They killed him which in a sense put fear into all others.”  (Portrait of an Italian-American Neighborhood: The North End of Boston, Anthony V. Ricco).

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