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After the West End: The fight for Barry's Corner

Residents were arrested, tomatoes were thrown, furniture was tossed into the street. In a David-and-Goliath-esque standoff, a small Allston neighborhood banded together to save their community from destruction.

Heffernan Street, August 9, 1965, Boston Redevelopment Authority photographs, Collection 4010.001
Heffernan Street, August 9, 1965

On Thanksgiving of 1964, residents of Barry’s Corner in Allston received letters that their homes were being seized by eminent domain to be torn down in an effort to redevelop the area.  By June of that year, most residents of Barry’s Corner had left to avoid eviction, and in August of 1965, the Boston Redevelopment Authority sent moving vans to forcibly evict those remaining. 

An August 10 Boston Globe article titled “12 More Arrested in Brighton Protests” shows how rapidly the protests by the residents against eviction escalated  12 people were arrested and around 400 others “screamed in protest as sheriff’s deputies removed furniture from two apartments.” Tomatoes were thrown at police officers as they tried to push back the crowd; one officer was even assaulted.

The BRA eventually halted the eviction of Barry’s Corner, partly due to the bad publicity they were getting, and partly because of a bill that was filed by Sen. Beryl Cohen (D-Brookline). The bill introduced a new approach to redeveloping the area, which focused on “conservation and rehabilitation” rather than demolition and starting from scratch. 

Urban redevelopment and its legacy are undoubtedly complicated and contentious topics, both with a deep history and a wide impact. Telling stories like the one of Barry’s Corner in Allston, as well as from other neighborhoods impacted, like the West End, are vital to remembering the authentic, complicated history of urban redevelopment in Boston.

This post was written by Sarah Carlon, a student in the History 380 (Fieldwork) Class at Simmons University. For more information about this class's work studying the history of the West End and urban renewal, see our introductory post to this blog series.

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