4.211J/11.016J, spring 2006
change over time
artifacts, layers, traces, and trends
The Navy Yard in Charlestown, MA has become a real estate hot spot for upper-middle class Bostonians. Separated from the
rest of Charlestown by the Tobin Bridge, the wealth of this neighborhood becomes immediately evident. Lavish new apartment
buildings, condos, and row houses, designed to emulate the traditional colonial style for which Boston is known, cover the area.
Just north of the east-west running Tobin Bridge, two series of low-income, subsidized housing appear. These housing projects
are bordered by Charlestown High School and Community Center on the west side, the high school’s fields, Barry Playground,
and the Little Mystic Channel to the north, Bunker Hill Street to the south, and the Tobin Bridge on the eastern side.
Two blocks southwest from these housing projects, Monument Square, where the Bunker Hill Monument commemorates the
United States’ victory during the American Revolution, marks the last stop on the Freedom Trail and a major tourist destination.
Two blocks southeast beyond the Tobin Bridge, the Charlestown Navy Yard sits with its coveted, high-priced, harbor-view
condominiums and town houses. Because of the anomalies created by the close distance between these successful areas and
a cluster of housing projects in need of repair, how did this site come to exist as low-income housing? What made this land
available for such housing projects? Was it once a neighborhood similar to the area around Monument Square, composed of
multifamily houses? Did the topography of Bunker Hill and the harbor influence the area’s use as low-income housing?