How Building a Community Built a Corridor

HImageave you ever heard of the Southwest Corridor Park? Are you aware of the history behind it? If not, you really should be; It’s a fascinating story:

In the 1950’s and 60’s, the state developed plans to place a 12-lane highway smack dab through the middle of the city. The preparations for this resulted in bulldozed homes and misplaced families.

Although this was devastating to all communities involved, the cool part is what happened in response:

The affected communities banded together to protest the highway and convinced the government to instead re-position the Orange line. What was originally an elevated train (and a bit of an eyesore) moved underground, opening up the landscape of the city. A few years later, the open land over the new train tracks that resulted from the demolition damage became a park.

Now, the Southwest Corridor Park stretches 4.7 miles from Back Bay to Forrest Hills, connecting the communities of the South End, Back Bay, Roxbury, and Jamaica Plain. The park contains  11 tot lot areas, 2 spray pools, 7 basketball courts, 5 tennis courts, 2 street hockey rinks, 2 amphitheaters, and paths for biking, jogging and walking and has been awarded numerous rewards for renewing community spirit and improving urban living.

But we haven’t even gotten to the really cool part yet.

When the state needed to cut funding for the park’s maintenance, volunteers stepped in to help with the landscaping, eventually creating the Southwest Corridor Park Conservancy, a non-profit organization devoted to maintaining the Southwest Corridor Park.

While volunteering here with Boston Cares, or individually, it’s not uncommon to receive thanks from passersby, strolling through the park with their dogs and children. Some even stop to help out.

This story shows the power of communities and the importance of building them. In standing together as a community, everyone can now benefit from of parks in the city landscape, and as a community of volunteers, we can ensure that they stay nice for everyone to enjoy.

If you want to get involved with environmental projects you can check out these opportunities:


Tell us:

Do you know any stories about Boston’s history that really exemplify the power of community?