Blue Hill Avenue: If A Street Could Speak

By Phillip Martin

BOSTON -- On Sunday, congregants from dozens of Boston-area churches and synagogues marched to the site in Mattapan where a two-year-old boy and his mother were murdered in September. Two others were also killed in what police described as the worst shooting rampage in Boston since 2005.

These homicides, as well as other murders in recent months have largely taken place in urban neighborhoods abutting Blue Hill Avenue, the street that connects Roxbury, Dorchester, Mattapan and Milton. Violence has given this street a tragic notoriety, but it's also a place with a deep history, and a present filled with complexity and alive with growth.

This week, we will take a closer look at Blue Hill Avenue.

Part One: Blue Hill Avenue, In Truth And Memory

During the last 50 years, this avenue has undergone dramatic changes: From Jewish neighborhoods to African American, Caribbean and Latino communities; from synagogues to churches; from kosher restaurants to those that specialize in jerked chicken.  And -- unfairly, many believe -- from having a reputation for commerce to one associated with crime. 

Part Two: Crime -- And Solutions -- On Blue Hill Avenue

Relative to other issues, crime ranks low for many Massachusetts residents in this election year, according to recent surveys. But it is a defining issue for thousands of Boston residents of three neighborhoods -- Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan -- where the vast majority of the city’s violence occurs.

Part Three: On Blue Hill Avenue, Community Abounds

The horrific murder in Mattapan last month, which took the lives of a four people, including a mother and her two-year-old child, has touched off a wave of religious vigils and protests in Mattapan. But a great deal of community organizing up and down Blue Hill Avenue takes place unseen and out of the glare of cameras.

>> Photoessay: Community, From Roxbury To Milton

Part Four: Blue Hill Avenue Looks Foward

Many residents who live on and near Blue Hill Avenue argue that the corridor is unfairly tainted with a reputation for crime. They point to a thriving commercial sector and new projects on the way as evidence of the community’s revitalization.
>> Photoessay: Faces Of Blue Hill Avenue

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