The Character of Cities





"The Character of Cities"



In this course we have learned that a city\'s character is "a legacy for seeing, interpreting, exploiting, and transforming its social, cultural and political opportunities as a physical community." How is it possible for a city like Boston to have character? Well, the institutional and cultural continuity along with the resistance and reconstruction of culture has allowed the character of Boston to be defined simply by the underlying idea of conflict. Through J Anthony Lukas\' Common Ground and Richard Broadman\'s Mission Hill and the Miracle of Boston, we can see that the catalyst for this sense of conflict has been social dissentions between classes and races. These dissentions are clearly detailed through both the Urban Renewal plans of Mission Hill in the 1960s and 1970s and the school busing case of 1974.When looking at the character of Boston one must understand the amount of controversy our city has encountered as well as the way they have identified and resolved these crisis\'s. Through this deduction along with my own personal experience of living in Boston a step towards finding a distinct character of Boston may be possible.
When analyzing conflict as the character of Boston, you will find that conflict is triadic not dyadic. This means that there are three parties involved instead of just two parties. This is important when looking at the two issues of urban renewal and busing. The concept of conflict includes established insiders with many options, struggling insiders with some options and ascendant outsiders with few or no options. When comparing this information to both urban renewal cases and the busing you will see that Boston does in fact have three parties for each of its conflicts. The politicians play the role of the established insiders; the white race plays the role as the struggling insiders and the minorities especially the African-Americans play the role of the ascendant outsiders. An alliance between the established insiders and the ascendant outsiders caused the isolation of the struggling insiders and this provides us with the busing case of 1974. When these groups form alliances or make certain deals the health of the city especially Boston may be disturbed. Boston has always been an ambivalent city when it comes to looking at new issues.
This ambivalence has caused much friction and has brought much confusion and anger to the citizens of the city of Boston. For example, In Richard Broadman\'s Mission Hill Miracle of Boston, you see a detailed look at the urban renewal plans for Mission Hill in the 1970s. Could it be possible that Mission Hill would end up like the West End? There was no chance that Mission Hill would end up like the West End because of the interaction and care the citizens of the Hill had for its neighborhood. Many of the people of Boston especially the Irish-Catholics had been oppressed for so long, for example the slogan, "Irish need not apply!" However when James Michael Curley came to office as mayor of Boston he gave the citizens of Boston a new hope. The conflict during his reign existed between the Yankees and the Irish. The Yankees owned the city while the Irish ran the city politically. The variance of the Yankee world of Harvard University, the Back Bay and Beacon Hill from the lives of a typical Irish Mission Hill citizen was pretty substantial. With the reign of Curley a sense of confidence in the Irish-Catholic community existed long after his term in office. Even though Curley was not reelected the atmosphere that he created in Boston lingered on and trickled down throughout the next two decades.
From Mission Hill once being "an industrial neighborhood part of thriving industrial city," is now today "an area torn by racial conflict with many burned and abandoned houses and factories with large open spaces where homes once stood." From this 1974 quote you can get a sense of the aftermath of the urban renewal and flight of the African-American population into the projects. When the Urban Renewal Act was first presented, the citizens of the Hill were adamant about their disdain for the Act. There is "no way are they gonna take any property on Mission Hill because if they take one street