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Jamaica Plain

Jamaica Plain Information

Jamaica Plain, more commonly known as “JP”, is an historic neighborhood in Boston, Massachusetts. It was originally part of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and then part of the town of West Roxbury, Massachusetts when that was established in 1848. West Roxbury (including Jamaica Plain) was annexed to Boston in 1874. According to an official city estimate, it had a population of 38,196 in October, 2003.

By the turn of the century, the neighborhood was experiencing rapid gentrification during a citywide real estate boom, and had attracted a large community of political activists, artists, and young families? while also experiencing a loss in low- to moderate-income housing.

Modern JP is uniquely diverse, a melting pot of race, ethnicities, and family types. The area has become home to blacks, latinos, and members of several Asian populations, as well as several families of various European descent, and a growing gay and lesbian presence. Hyde and Jackson Squares have significant Spanish-speaking populations from Cuba and the Dominican Republic. JP is a popular area among Boston lesbians, including older couples, and increasingly attracts young gay men and women. This blend of multiple cultures is reflected in local businesses, such as the many different eating and drinking establishments which line Centre Street.

Although some see Jamaica Plain as relatively isolated from the rest of the Boston metro area, the Green Line “E” Branch at Heath Street, the Orange Line, and the #39 bus (one of only two buses whose fare is covered by the purchase of a monthly subway pass) provide easy access to Back Bay, the South End, and Downtown; as well as the Amtrak trains and most southbound commuter rails. Low rents and a funky, populist feel have helped popularize the area with post-GenX youth, artist, professionals, and students.

A hot real estate market has driven conversion of older buildings into condominiums, particularly in historic areas such as Hyde Square, Pondside, and Sumner Hill. Some believe this has sped up gentrification, to the dismay of renters and long-time residents. A large number of formerly vacant sites are being now being converted to residential use, among them the ABC Brewery, the Gormley Funeral Home, the Eblena Brewery, 319 Centre Street, Jackson Square, JP Cohousing, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of the Way, and 80 Bickford Street.

JP is served by the MBTA’s bus and rail services. Major roads are Centre Street, the Jamaicaway (formerly US 1), the Arborway (MA 203), Washington Street, and Columbus Avenue (MA 28). Proposed restoration of the “E” Train extension to Forest Hills (part of the promised environmental mitigation measures relating to the Big Dig) has caused considerable tension in the area. Some residents and commuters are eager to embrace what is seen as a reconnection with the rest of the city, while many others cite the #39 Bus along the old route and the Orange Line just a few blocks away as easy travel solutions. Opposition is mainly based on this availability of transport, and fears that restoration of the trolley service would eliminate on-street parking and create traffic snares in an area already plagued by a shortage of the former and abundance of the latter. Advocates on both sides of the issue, including the Arborway Committee and Better Transit Without Trolleys, present compelling arguments for improved service while the MBTA has not yet committed to a permanent transit solution.

Shared car service Zipcar has a number of cars stationed throughout the neighborhood. Municipal parking lots are located off Centre Street at Burroughs Street in JP Center, across from the Mary Curley School on Centre Street at Spring Park Ave., and across from Blessed Sacrament Church in Hyde Square. There are no meters in JP; on-street parking is free. Many streets near the MBTA Orange Line stations are posted “resident permit only” during working hours (8 AM to 6 PM).