Created By: University of Massachusetts Boston
The Columbia Point project was constructed between 1951 and 1954 and consisted of a many high-rise apartment buildings. The site for formerly a cow pasture and later a city dump (which was still in use when the housing development opened). At the outset, 93% of the residents were white while 7% were Black. Surrounded by open fields, the landfill, and water, Columbia Point opened without a grocery store in the neighborhood, no shops, no bank, no schools, churches, health care, nor public transportation. What the peninsula lacked in terms of services, the residents – in particular the “Mothers Club” – played an important role in securing. From its inception, the racially mixed housing project was in isolation. By 1963, the Columbia Point community began to split along racial lines, reflecting the broader patterns of housing discrimination and white flight. The racially mixed character of the community became increasingly segregated under the tenure of Mayor John F. Collins. By the end of the 1960s the housing project was predominantly occupied by Black families – largely as women-led households. In the 1960s and 70s city financed Boston Housing Authority structures that had originally supported the upkeep of the community were diminished and resources were redirected to hyper policing and the suppression of a vibrant community life. Drugs, crime, and neglect of the space changed the once family-friendly community-supported landscape of Columbia Point. In 1984, the firm Corcoran-Mullins-Jennison Company was given a 99-year lease from the city of Boston and it began work on demolishing the buildings and building the new Harbor Point Apartments.
Does Columbia Point, as you imagine it looked years ago, convey a sense of hope for families who lived there? What changes to its appearance might have made it a more welcoming place to live? Does Harbor Point appear to be a supportive community for low- and moderate-income families, and people of color?
This point of interest is part of the tour: Columbia Point Walking Tour