In the second leg of our journey through Boston’s neighborhoods (see Charlestown here), Devin and I went to East Boston on Monday to explore, observe and experience the neighborhood. Please view this amazing map that The Devin and I made outlining our journey.
And for my impressions:
Eastie O Eastie what to say about you? First impressions? As a yuppie, at first look I asked The Devin “where are the cute shops?” The Devin pointed towards a Bodega.
I saw lots of trash, some worn down houses, and not a single polo shirt or pair of Uggs. A little different from the North End, Downtown and South End, my normal stomping grounds. No bankers rushing to work, or coffee shops catering to “starving artists” that somehow can afford a $5.00 cup of coffee.
Maybe it is the harbor that divides Eastie from the rest of Boston but Eastie seems to have avoided the gentrification that has occurred in much of the rest of the city. Eastie would be the kid in high school that wears hand me downs and brings his own lunch to school. Unlike the kid who wears vintage to pretend he is above it all, Eastie has an “I have better things to do” sort of persona. Or rather, I just came to America and I’m trying to make it, so I don’t have time to build a bread and cheese shop so the yuppies that just moved in can buy their over–priced mozzarella and pretend to be ‘among the people’.”
So, it makes sense that I wouldn’t find a store selling dog sweaters. The stores in East Boston seemed to be there due to necessity. In Central Square, which feels like downtown Eastie, there’s a blockbuster, payless shoes, and a no frills grocery shop. I felt like I was in Oakland, my original hometown.
Maybe my favorite part about Eastie is that there’s actual ethnic diversity. Like, people of various races living next to each other and interacting. As much as people in Boston love pretending that “Italian” or “Irish” are races, they just aren’t. In Eastie, there are Italians and Latinos and more and they all serve up their amazing food.
In fact, the next time I hear a former Californian complain that they can’t find a good burrito, I will send them to Taqueria Cancun and tell them to shut up. Enough people have written odes to Santarpio’s that I don’t need to bore you with my review. Let’s just say it’s the bomb and it’s way cheaper than the North End.
Also, in East Boston I heard people speaking a variety of languages, which is refreshing and makes me feel less idiotic for taking Spanish for 8 years and then moving away from California.
A co-worker, upon hearing that The Devin and I were going to East Boston, said “Eastie has a lot of potential.” Walking through Jeffries Point to Piers Park I saw gentrification slowly creeping in. Views of Boston’s downtown skyline beckon and newly painted row houses line the streets. The park is beautifully maintained and offers great areas for residents to take their kids to play, read, eat, and collaborate with neighbors.
Although every neighborhood should strive for improved schools, public areas, and community, there are some things that I feel should stay in East Boston. If low rents mean keeping a diverse community I say why would we hope for gentrification? Why do we always think yuppies and coffee shops make an area “better”?
I don’t live in East Boston, so I can’t speak for the residents but I feel like improved trash collection would be awesome, but besides that I would say, “Eastie, stay strong and be who you are and under no circumstances tolerate stores whose main focus is dressing animals that think its okay to eat their own poop.”