South Boston is a densely populated neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts, located south and east of the Fort Point Channel and abutting Dorchester Bay. One of the oldest and most historic neighborhoods in the US, South Boston is most popularly known as Southie or "God's Country" Although still popularly known as a working class Irish-American neighborhood, it is also home to the Boston area's small but vibrant Polish and Lithuanian communities, and its demographics are rapidly changing. South Boston contains Dorchester Heights, where George Washington forced British troops to evacuate during the American Revolutionary War. South Boston's real estate market has exploded in recent years and South Boston has seen property values join the highest in the city.
Geographically, Dorchester Neck was an isthmus, a narrow strip of land that connected the mainland of the colonial settlement of Dorchester with Dorchester Heights. Landfill has since greatly increased the amount of land on the eastern side of the historical neck, and widened the connection to the mainland to the point that South Boston is no longer considered separate from it. South Boston gained an identity separate from Dorchester, but the two were annexed by Boston in pieces, from 1804 to 1870.
During the American Revolutionary War, George Washington placed a cannon on Dorchester Heights, thereby forcing the evacuation of British troops from Boston on March 17, 1776. The British evacuated Boston and Fort William and Mary for Halifax, Nova Scotia. Fort William and Mary was replaced with a brick fortification known as Fort Independence. That fort was replaced by a granite fortification (bearing the same name) prior to the American Civil War, and still stands on Castle Island as a National Historic Landmark. Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Castle Island for five months in 1827 and was inspired to write The Cask of Amontillado based on an early Castle Island legend.
In the 1990s South Boston became the focus for a Supreme Court case on the right of gay and lesbian groups to participate in the Saint Patrick's Day (Evacuation Day) parade. The case was decided in favor of the parade's sponsors when the United States Supreme Court supported the South Boston Allied War Veterans' right to determine who can participate in their annual St. Patrick's Day parade. In 1996 local Dorchester author Paul Walkowski and Attorney William Connolly detailed the case in their book "From Trial Court to the United States Supreme Court".
"Southie" is home to what is thought to be the first Vietnam veterans memorial in the United States. It predated the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., by 13 months. It was dedicated on September 13, 1981 and is located at Independence Square, which is more commonly called M Street Park.
In the early 21st century, property values, especially in the City Point neighborhood near Castle Island, rose to the level of some of the highest in the city. The City Point area of South Boston, labeled "East Side" by realtors, has seen a major increase in property values due to its close proximity to downtown Boston and gentrification. The "West Side" of South Boston, also known as the "lower end" by lifelong residents, though slower to begin the gentrification process also benefits from the proximity to not only downtown but also the popular South End. Additionally, the West Side is home to the first green residence (Gold LEED certified) in Boston — the Macallen Building which was featured in the movie The Greening of Southie. The City of Boston is investing in the West Side through developments like the ~ mixed use (residential and commercial) building being developed by the Boston Redevelopment Authority on West Broadway.
The section of South Boston north of First Street is targeted for massive redevelopment by the administration of Mayor Thomas Menino and the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). As of September 2010, the Seaport Square project was expected to cost $3 billion and replace parking lots between the federal courthouse and convention center with a mixed-use development. Construction was expected to begin in 2011.
Initially referred to as the "Seaport District" by the BRA, this area was officially restyled the "South Boston Waterfront" after virulent protest from natives and local politicians, including City Council President James M. Kelly. The Central Artery/Tunnel (CA/T) Project, also known as the Big Dig, has created a completely new transportation network for this area and quite a few new hotel and office projects have come online in the past few years. The Boston Convention and Exhibition Center straddles D Street, the Seaport Hotel and Seaport World Trade Center is located on Commonwealth Pier, and a new home for the Institute of Contemporary Art hangs over Boston Harbor just north of Northern Avenue.
According to the Boston Waterfront Guide the South Boston Waterfront now has 55 restaurants, four hotels, and nine major attractions, and continues to grow.
Due to the increase in nightlife in the neighborhood, on street parking for residents has become increasingly scarce. In response, city officials are launching a 90 day pilot program that will expand resident only parking to seven days a week, from four. The aim, according to City Council President Bill Linehan is to address the scarcity of parking for residents on weekends.