r Letter From Eastie: In which I discuss Yuppies and Starbucks yet again.
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Collaged view of Boston, from East Boston

Letter From Eastie

News and other items from East Boston, Massachusetts.

Monday, December 19, 2005

In which I discuss Yuppies and Starbucks yet again.

I think I should get a commission from Starbucks, because I surely mention their name as often as any advertising campaign. FirstEvil left the following comment in response to my previous post here:
Eastie is NOT hip. There is NO scene. What there is is a proliferation of gang violence and graffiti, like what happened to some buildings in my area over last weekend. MS-13 gangs are running rampant and Eastie needs to clean up it's act! The police have to take notice and start doing something. If developers want to come in and sterilize the place then I'm all for it! Send the bad element away. I've had it with the gangs and the trash and the illegal businesses sprouting up! (oh yes, it happens) Eastie is a slum and that does not translate to hip or cool. It just means SLUM. I can't wait for the yuppies and Starbucks. I wish they got here yesterday!
I basically have one question for FirstEvil and others like him/her. If this is what you really feel about East Boston, then why the hell do you live here? Maybe you don't have any other options at this time and I'm truly sorry about that, but some of the people I hear whining about the lack of "scene" in Eastie have only recently purchased property here. Come on people. Did you really shell out $300,000 plus for a piece of property and do absolutely no research about the place where you were buying this property. I have never said that East Boston is perfect. It has issues. I also have no problem with yuppies and/or Starbuck per se, except for that fact that their arrival may mean an imminent increase in my rent. Where my beef begins, is with people who come into this place from outside and have no inclination or desire to learn anything about the community that already exists here except to try and push it out. The people who live here now are real people. They go to work every day, they own property, they own business, they have kids in school that they worry about. Who are you to wish these people priced out of the neighborhood that they helped to improve? I've said this before on this blog, but I was in East Boston in the late 80s and early 90s. If you think Eastie is a dump now, you should have been here when all the shops were boarded up and the business that were left here were going bankrupt. Three family houses were selling for $175, 000 and nobody wanted to live here. If you find a 3-decker for less than $400,000 now, let me know because I may want to buy it. Have you been up on Eagle Hill lately? There are parts of it that look like San Francisco, with the old Victorian houses painted up in bright colors. Retail space, if I have to guess, is probably at about 98% occupancy. When I was growing up the school yards and the parks in East Boston were a sea of broken glass and useless playground equipment (if there even was any playground equipment). East Boston now actually has parks that you might let your children play in, not to mention a brand new YMCA.

We all want the bad things like the gangs and the drugs and the crime to go away, but if you can find one area of Boston that has absolutely no gang, drug, or crime activity, I would be glad to know where it is. The bottom line is that there are things about this community that I don't want changed. I love that I can actually afford to live here for one thing. I love that people still sit on their front stoops and talk to their neighbors here. They may not necessarily be speaking in English, but that doesn't make for any less of a community. I love that I can get a meal here in a restaurant for $3.50 (2 cheese pupusas) that doesn't have golden arches. I like that on a Saturday you can see people out and about doing their shopping right here in the community, rather than driving out to the mall.

As to the East Boston Police, I think that they are extremely aware of the problem of gangs that exists in East Boston an are doing their best to solve the problem. I find that the officers from Station 7 always respond to problems unbelievably quickly when they are called. I'm not exactly an expert on crime statistics by any stretch of the imagination, but the City of Boston does post those statistics on their web site. Check out the most recent report from July 2005. (You'll need Adobe Acrobat to do it.) Please correct me if I'm reading this wrong, but you'll notice that year to date reported crimes for East Boston is roughly equivalent to Jamaica Plain (JP's is actually greater) and I don't think that you would find anyone who would describe JP as a hotbed of crime. Also notice that the year to date change for East Boston is -2% and -9% overall for the city of Boston. I'm not sure why Eastie has such a reputation for crime. I guess it's all about perception.

At this point, development and the gentrification that goes along with it is a reality. All I'm saying is that people need to consider what gentrification means for the people who already have a life here in East Boston. The South End has become what it is now, for better or worse, because of it's unique history. East Boston will also, hopefully, become something unique and wonderful, because of it's own history and not a carbon copy of any other neighborhood.


  • At 7:59 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    I could not have said it better myself! (And I haven't lived in Eastie nearly as long as you have.) Personally, I'd be just as happy if Starbucks never moves in -- I was a bit distressed when we got a Subway restaurant last year -- but I wouldn't mind if we got another Citizen's Bank branch, or if any of the hardware stores stayed open past 5 p.m. on a weeknight. :^)

  • At 9:29 PM, Blogger Marilora said…

    I'm angling for the Trader Joe's.

  • At 11:47 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    Ooooh, TJ's would indeed be sweet. And would it be wrong for me to admit I wouldn't mind a Boston Market?

  • At 3:08 PM, Blogger Elle said…

    I lived in Lynnfield in the 60's and early 70's. My father grew up in East Boston and my grandmother and Aunts, and cousins lived there. I loved going there and doing the stoop. Everyone would sit outside and talk and watch each others children. On Saturday we would WALK to the square and go to a show. Lynnfield did not have any of that good stuff. I was so happy when I got to high school and a few of the kids in my class had moved here from East Boston. It felt like being home, they understood what it was like to live in Eastie and it was not all bad.

  • At 4:00 PM, Blogger FirstEvil said…

    I have been here a couple of years and I have gotten to know my neighborhood and the people in it, the good people. I had to move here because it's the only place I could afford to buy. (Cut $300,000 in half.) But the major reason I bought in such a depressed area was because of the promise that it was "up and coming" and I would eventually make a nice profit on my home. If you are worried about the increase in your rent then buy now. Boston has a great 1st time homebuyer program. But please stop trying to stop the beautification of the area because you don't want an increase in your rent. My property taxes will go up too if more yuppies move in and the $600,000 condos get built on the waterfront, but I'm not complaining about that. It's a fact of life. But and build equity like other other adults. Renting is throwing your money away...you should be more angry about that.

    I don't live in JP or any other area of Boston so comparing statistics on crime is meaningless. If I get mugged my first reaction will not be "oh well, this happens in Beacon Hill 2% more". No. Give me a break. I just care about where I'm living now. Bring me a Starbucks on every corner perhaps next to a Trader Joe's, some nice Irish pubs and a Super Stop and Shop (because that Shaw's is pitiful..). Now we're talking!

  • At 6:04 PM, Blogger Princess B said…

    I love visiting you in East Boston (even though it is a long commute from the west side). I felt safer there than I did growing up in Springfield, that's for sure.

  • At 6:09 PM, Blogger Princess B said…

    P.S. I avoid Starbucks at all costs. I'm a Dunks kind of girl. Alas, the Hub is turning to the dark side, and their coffee sure is strong--laced with extra caffeine to get you hooked...it reminds me of the cigarette companies' ploys for getting kids hooked except of course caffeine is not as bad as nicotine (I hope!). Still a chemically addictive substance though.

  • At 3:19 PM, Blogger jh.. said…

    funny that you compared starbucks coffee to nicotine/tobacco, especially considering that philip morris tobacco (now called altria) owns 85% of kraft foods, who produce starbucks coffee in the usa. coincidence in adictiveness? maybe not...

  • At 1:12 AM, Blogger Marcelo Daniel said…

    Gentrification need not be evil, but it certainly is awful when it happens with little regard to the neighborhood, its people, and its history. I see Chinatown disappearing before my eyes, being replaced by sterile luxury condo towers. Progress?
    Firstevil wants Starbucks on every corner. This would make East Boston another South End, ie...boring, overpriced, and not very special. Right now East Boston is a gem of culture, an oasis for immigrants and the working class.
    Fristevil sure sounds like the author of this pathetic letter that came out not too long ago in the Weekly Dig. Why do they move to neighborhoods they can't deal with???


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