South End Seniors, Neighborhood History, Zoom Sessions, 2020-2021

The South End Seniors is an informally organized, unincorporated association of senior citizens in Boston’s South End devoted to information sharing and discussion both in person and online. The association had been in existence in one form or another for approximately ten years and had been holding weekly in-person meetings until the Covid-19 lockdown in March 2020. The group resumed its weekly meetings via Zoom and in late 2020 convened a secondary round of meetings called “ZoomRoom” devoted to, among other specialized areas, exploring South End history and featuring presentations by members with interest and expertise in specific areas such as housing, immigration, ethnicity, art and literature, education, and architecture.

The South End was developed on filled land in the second half of the nineteenth century as an extensive neighborhood of “middle-class” residential row housing but had declined in perception and reputation as a “skid row” by the 1950s. It remains, in fact the largest extant area of Victorian row housing in the United States and is designated as a protected Landmark District. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, it had some of the most expensive residential buildings in Boston and is recognized as a classic case study in social change, cultural adaptation, and “gentrification” in post-war America.

These free-form presentations and responses were recorded and archived with the permission of the presenters and the participants. The recordings (each approximately 90 minutes) are unedited and include false starts, digressions, and technical difficulties but are substantially on subject. Access is unrestricted, but verbatim quotation, digital reproduction, and attribution require clearance with the Archives staff to verify use and accuracy.

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