About the Area

Read the Build Together Update!

About the Area

Since its founding, Dorchester has been home to successive waves of immigrants: from England, Ireland, Italy, Poland, the Caribbean, Vietnam, Cape Verde. Residents have valued education, founding the first public school in the country and one of the earliest libraries in the state.  

This area of Dorchester was one of the earliest settled and was home to the farms and orchards for which the town was famous. Centre Street is one of the original streets in Dorchester, therefore one of the oldest streets in the country. As the area became more developed, Boston annexed surrounding towns, industries were established, and trains and trolley lines connected the neighborhoods creating the commuting patterns that still exist. The area around the Shawmut station saw significant growth in the late nineteenth century, when many families chose to move from the crowded center of Boston and to make their home in the quiet and peaceful neighborhood of Dorchester; Melville Avenue and Wellesley Park were built at that time. In the early twentieth century, triple-deckers were added to the area to meet the demands of increased immigration.

In 1964, Boston enacted a Zoning Code that is a “set of rules that dictate the allowed shape, density, and use of development in a given area. It protects Boston's distinct neighborhoods from the development of buildings or uses that do not harmonize with their surrounding context.” The Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) notes that fifteen of the city’s neighborhoods were originally separate towns and that “[t]o this day, many of these neighborhoods remain unique in their look and feel compared to the rest of the City. The most recent edition of the Boston Zoning Code, enacted in 1964, has evolved and adapted to accommodate the unique character of these places.” This area is zoned residential, for one- or two-family houses, a determination that is intended to limit density, reduce the amount of traffic on narrow streets, protect and maintain green space and tree canopy, and preserve the unique housing stock of the area. 

More information about the area is available in the presentations.