Reflections on Boston’s West End: The Origins & Lessons of Urban Renewal – A Lecture Series
The West End Museum presents “Reflections on Boston’s West End: The Origins & Lessons of Urban Renewal,” a dynamic lecture series that provides a comprehensive examination of the forces that led to the urban renewal programs in mid-20th century America. Structured as a series of seven lectures with discussion, each session has a distinct topic, but all use Boston’s West End urban renewal project as the primary example and connecting point.
Attendees will learn how an entire Boston neighborhood vanished, displacing about 7,500 people who called it home. Tenement houses with mom-and-pop storefronts fell to the wrecking ball, ultimately to be replaced by high-rises with professed suburban amenities, all in the name of progress. The destruction of the West End came to be seen as a landmark case in urban planning circles. Its simplistic, top-down approach became a textbook example of how NOT to transform a city. As Winston Churchill said, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”
Series presenter James Briand has worked with The West End Museum since 2009, developing classroom presentations and tours on various topics including urban renewal, the work of Jane Jacobs, the 1949 Housing Act, and Title One. Briand has authored numerous articles on local history and is a lifelong resident of the Boston area