1.9 min readBy Published On: October 23rd, 2022Categories: News4 Comments on The Beginning of the End: 1987 South Boston

A time capsule of the way it was in a neighborhood on the brink of gentrification.

GBH Archives on social media shares little bits of Boston history in short videos. On Saturday, they posted one filmed in South Boston back in April of 1987 with residents reacting to the new Fan Pier Development happening along the waterfront.

A little history of Fan Pier

Back in the day, there was a large pier jutting out next to South Boston near Fort Point just across the way from the financial district. It was filled with parking lots used by people who worked in nearby factories, warehouses and downtown. But developers had a different idea for that area. They would transform the 18.5 acre plot into four office buildings, an 800 room hotel, three residential buildings, an art museum and a marina. It was the first project of what would become the Seaport District.  Needless to say, South Boston residents were less than pleased with the idea.  Some of the concerns included the luxury development would change the landscape and character of the neighborhood, pricing of the units were too expensive ($200K-$300K) and traffic would be impacted with commuters cutting through South Boston to get to that neck of the neighborhood. Boy oh boy, talk about being clairvoyant. These concerns are still expressed at community meetings in 2022.

A GBH reporter with a camera went into (the now elusive) and around Shea’s Tavern on West Broadway to ask residents their opinion. Needless to say, most did not think it was a good idea.  “I think it’s gonna raise property value and make it harder for people to buy a house..for people who lived their whole lives here and want to stay here. It’s gonna make it a lot tougher for them to stay here,” said one resident.  And that’s exactly what happened roughly 20 years later.

And is that Herald columnist Peter Gelzinis making a cameo appearance?

You can watch the video here and here.

And South Boston is still changing with large scale developments in the works like the newly approved Channelside project on A Street, 776 Summer Street (the old Edison) and Washington Village – to name just a few.

Image: Lots of parking along the piers of the South Boston Waterfront circa 1982. / Photo by Bob Dean/The Boston Globe


  1. Kevin Conroy October 23, 2022 at 5:48 pm - Reply

    They saw it coming. Pretty sad, actually.

    • Maureen Dahill October 24, 2022 at 11:31 am - Reply


  2. Joe October 26, 2022 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    South Boston went to shit when the Irish moved in 150 years ago, it’s never been the same.

  3. Koz October 27, 2022 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Let’s face it Southie was destroyed when busing decimated the neighbor school system. White flight led to a fire sale of properties that careened forward into the subsequent decades. Now all the kids from The “W”. Towns rent in Southie and urinate on our property. Their limousine liberal parents and grand parents still reside in Wellesley; Weston, etc… The Seaport would have been Bob Krafts fiefdom but for Stevie Lynch standing tall for Southie. Southie community benefits from linkage via seaport development s should be huge but those dollars are spent elsewhere. Wu should focus on “ Free Southie” rather than “Free The T”. Joe the Moron, you are irrelevant

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