South Boston is a densely populated neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts – located between Dorchester Bay and the Fort Point Channel. It was originally known as “Dorchester Neck” and is known today as “Southie”.
South Boston has been made famous by many things throughout the years, from early American Revolutionary War history to pop culture, including famous films like Good Will Hunting and, more recently, The Departed.
Geographically, Southie was originally considered an isthmus – a narrow strip of land that connected the Dorchester settlement with Dorchester Heights. It was on the “Heights” that General George Washington placed the canon brought from Fort Ticonderoga in an attempt to intimidate the British Fleet situated in Boston Harbor. It is said that Washington only had enough powder to fire one cannon ball, but the one shot was placed with such accuracy that the British immediately offered to withdraw from the harbor. It was this famous exit on March 17, 1776 that led to the holiday of Evacuation Day. The island that sat just off the neck held Fort William and Mary was the last point the British passed leaving the harbor. The fort was refortified and renamed Fort Independence.
Over time, landfill was brought in and expanded the landmass of South Boston. Eventually the “neck” was no longer and South Boston took over an area of what was once the harbor that extends all the way to Fort Independence – or what is called Castle Island today.
Traditionally, South Boston has been a working class, Irish Catholic community. Its early twentieth century social progress was such a success that it became a model for other parts of Boston and surrounding communities. It was the site of America’s first Community Housing Projects. Among them were the Old Colony and Old Harbor projects that flourished after the Second World War.
Southie was a close knit community where everyone seemed to know everybody. Parents worked together and kids played together. The variety of career paths were as unique as the community itself was. Some grew up to become powerful political figures in Boston politics, like Joe Moakley, Jimmy Kelly, Brian Wallace and former Mayor Raymond Flynn – who went on to become the U.S. Ambassador to The Vatican. Whether they worked on Beacon Hill or Capitol Hill – or Rome, they would all proudly call Southie their home.
South Boston has always had a strong affiliation with Irish immigrants and their Irish heritage. The Irish American flavor of Southie can be felt from the many Irish pubs along Broadway to the many Irish flags that fly in front of homes throughout the neighborhood. Never is it more evident than during the week the two holidays – Evacuation Day and St. Patrick’s Day - are celebrated. People come from all over to enjoy the parade and other festivities that mark the occasion. Ladder 19, along with several other companies, are the first on the parade route every year and really get the crowd excited for all that follows.
Of all the great neighborhoods U.S. cities are famous for – “Southie” is arguably one of the best! It is in close proximity to Logan Airport and downtown Boston. It has two MBTA subway stops and several major bus routes that will bring you to key destinations in Boston – including Fenway Park. If you plan to visit Boston, please don’t miss Southie – and stop by Ladder 19 (seen below) and say hello!