Although East Boston was annexed by the City of Boston in 1836, it was not an area that was heavily settled because transportation to the island was extremely difficult. It was not until the 1830’s when the Eastern Railroad and ferry service was established that people began to settle in East Boston. It was during this time that General William Sumner founded the East Boston Trade Company, which began filling swamps, building wharves and developing the railroad, resulting in a boom of new industry, including a sugar refinery, an iron forgery, a timber company and numerous ship builders. The best known was Donald McCay, who was an immigrant from Nova Scotia who opened a shipyard on Border Street in 1845 and over the next forty years, he produced clipper ships that set speed records around the world.
Throughout the mid 1800’s East Boston became a community where immigrants first came. It began with the Irish and the Canadians and then the Russian Jews. By 1925, the Italians had immigrated to East Boston in great numbers and today much of East Boston is considered the second “Little Italy” next to the North End. The Italians were joined by Southeast Asians and most recently Central and Southern Americans. This results in a diverse community that offers authentic restaurants ranging from some of the city’s best Italian, Mexican and Seafood eateries.
With the recent development in the area, trendier restaurants have also already started to emerge, and the result is great food at an affordable price! There are several Squares in East Boston and all of them offer a number of retail shops, making it a very easy walking neighborhood. Today East Boston is thriving and is an extraordinary neighborhood to explore. Here are just some of the reasons Porter 156 residents love this diverse and exciting community:
- Piers Park – A stunning urban park featuring an amphitheater, an outdoor fitness system, and a large playground. The harbor and city views are truly dazzling!
- Piers Park Sailing Center – Enjoy sailing lessons, boat rentals and being a part of this vibrant sailing community.
- ICA Watershed – The Institute of Contemporary Art opened a 15,000 square foot space in the Boston Harbor Shipyard and Marina in 2018 – a truly welcoming space to see and experience large-scale art.
- East Boston Harbor Walk – A beautiful public walkway that follows the edge of piers, wharves, beaches and shoreline around Boston Harbor and the famous Nantucket Lightship.
- HarborArts – Since 2009, HarborArts has been creating a stage for dialogue through public art. They transformed the 14-acre Shipyard and Marina into an outdoor gallery for both local and international art.
- Zumix – A non-profit organization that is dedicated to building the community through music and creative technology amongst the youth in the neighborhood.
- Downeast Cider House – Located in the historical Shipyard, this super hip brewery offers tastings, tours and their delicious cider beer for sale.
- East Boston Artists Group – Enjoy this local artwork of super talented artists in both their Atlantic Works Gallery and when they host open studios.
- YMCA East Boston – Renovated in 2005 in the historic Boston and Albany Engine House, it offers a state-of-the-art fitness center at an affordable price.
- Paris Street Community Center – Originally built in 1910 and renovated in 2018, this offers 27,000 square feet of community space for a variety of activities and just so happens to be the oldest gymnasium in the country.