Fields Corner celebrates being named one of the 10 Great Neighborhoods in America by the American Planning Association
Oct 27, 2014
APA Executive Director and Fields Corner native presents certificate to city officials and community
For the second year in a row, the American Planning Association (APA) has honored Boston with one of the organization’s Great Places in America recognitions. Fields Corner in Dorchester was named one of the APA’s 10 Great Neighborhoods in America for 2014, and community members gathered in Hero Square this morning to celebrate the accolade. Boston’s Chief of Economic Development John Barros, speaking on behalf of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, accepted a commemorative certificate from APA President Bill Anderson and Executive Director and Fields Corner native Jim Drinan. Last year, the APA honored Post Office Square as a Great Public Space.
“The people of Fields Corner have long known how great their community is, but it’s always special for a highly respected organization like the American Planning Association to award this type of honor,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Fields Corner has undergone a real transformation in recent years, and it just continues to get better
thanks to its passionate residents and committed neighborhood organizations and businesses.”
After four years of planning and community meetings, Fields Corner underwent an $18 million dollar facelift in 2010, part of the Dorchester Avenue planning project led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. The upgrades included streetscape improvements such as new crosswalks, wider sidewalks, new bike lanes and racks, new solar-powered trash compactors, tree planting, and many other enhancements. A major focus of the project was Hero Square, which was built to create a larger pedestrian plaza with seating and landscaping. The square is a popular spot where families gather to watch the annual Dorchester Day Parade.
Fields Corner is home to a large Vietnamese-American population that has helped to create a thriving mix of cultural shops and restaurants along the neighborhood’s commercial corridor. Fields Corner Main Street supports small businesses by assisting with storefront improvements and streetscape beautification projects, while also helping to recruit new businesses and market existing ones.
VietAID, another well-known local organization, was established in 1994 to provide support to residents. In 2002, the organization opened an 18,000 square foot community center that hosts cultural events throughout the year. In addition, VietAID developed 128 units of affordable housing as well as commercial spaces. It runs a small business assistance program, an after-school and summer program for Vietnamese youth, and recently built a community garden with the help of residents.
Dorchester House Multi Service Center, a community health care provider, and the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, which creates positive opportunities for at-risk teens, are examples of other impactful Fields Corner organizations.
“Fields Corner’s close-knit community and commitment to social and civic services remains one of its long standing traditions and makes this neighborhood such a special place,” said APA President Bill Anderson. “The neighborhood is a great example of a diverse community that features unique local businesses and provides a variety of transportation options for residents and visitors.”
Named for the Fields, a prominent family in Dorchester’s commerce that had roots in the neighborhood dating back to the late 18th century, Fields Corner has approximately 20,000 residents today. The Isaac Newsome Field House was built in 1795 at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street. The family owned six houses in the neighborhood that would later be named for them, but only the original Isaac Newsome Field House still stands. It has been altered significantly and repurposed for commercial use.
Great Places in America is the APA’s flagship program that celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning. Each October during National Community Planning Month, Great Places in America celebrates 30 exceptional neighborhoods, streets, and public spaces. The annual honorees represent the gold standard of having a true sense of place, cultural and historic interest, community involvement, a vision for the future, and, most importantly, a legacy of planning. Since Great Places in America was launched in 2007, the APA has designated 230 neighborhoods, streets, public spaces.
Learn more about the program and this year’s designees on the APA’s website.