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Fields Corner

Dorchester, Massachusetts

Designated Area

Bounded by Bowdoin Street, Washington Street, Ashmont Street, and the train tracks on Clayton Street

 

Summary

Home to over 20,000 residents, Fields Corner is well-known for its diversity. A large Vietnamese-American population resides in the neighborhood, attracting residents and visitors to the array of cultural shops and restaurants along its commercial corridor. The heart of Fields Corner will always remain at the intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street, with its rich history and lively atmosphere.

The Isaac Newsome Field House was built in 1795 on the central intersection of Dorchester Avenue and Adams Street. This home belonged to the Field family, prominent in commerce. The Fields owned six houses, giving the area its name, but only the original home still stands. Beginning with the development and widespread use of the streetcar in the late 1800s, Fields Corner became a regional trade hub for the Boston area.

The close-knit community ties are what set Fields Corner apart. For instance, Viet-AID, one of the many local community organizations, was established in 1994 to provide a support network for residents. In 2002, tha organization opened an 18,000-square-foot community center that hosts cultural events year-round. The organization also developed 128 units of affordable housing as well as commercial spaces. Viet-AID runs a small business assistance program, an after-school and summer program for Vietnamese youth, and recently built a community garden with Fields Corner residents. 

Fields Corner Main Street promotes activities to support the neighborhood — improving storefronts, streetscape beautification projects, providing tools and assistance to local merchants, recruiting and marketing new and existing businesses in the neighborhood.

After four years of planning and community meetings, Fields Corner underwent a multi-million dollar facelift in 2010 as part of the Dorchester Avenue Project led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority. All of the improvements in Fields Corner were part of the $18 million streetscape and improvement plan for Dorchester Avenue, awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The benefits of the project included a more attractive streetscape, new crosswalks, widened sidewalks, new bike lanes and racks, new trash receptacles, solar-powered trash compactors, tree planting, and energy efficient lighting. A major focus of the project was “Hero Square” in the heart of the neighborhood; connections were built to create a larger plaza area with seating and additional landscaping upgrades. This square is the perfect location to watch the annual parade on Dot Day.

Planning Milestones

  • Roughly 11,000 people travel to and from the recently renovated MBTA Red Line Fields Corner Station each day
  • The neighborhood is a transit-oriented development area (TOD) defined by a higher density mixed-use development within walking distance to key transit nodes; this has led to infrastructure improvements to sidewalks and crosswalks, and increased priority to cyclists
  • The Boston Neighborhood Development Agency was established by Mayor Kevin H. White (1980), and spearheaded major revitalization efforts; over $5 million allocated through Community Development Block Grant funds
  • Dorchester Avenue Project (2005) was led by the Boston Redevelopment Authority and implemented by the Boston Transportation Department
  • The Dorchester Avenue Zoning Update was launched (2010) to consolidate Dorchester Avenue zoning regulations, which includes the Fields Corner neighborhood, with those of the surrounding Dorchester neighborhood into a single zoning article
  • The Golden Building facade rehabilitation marked Historic Boston’s first brick and mortar project in Fields Corner; $320,000 was allocated towards restoration of the original 1895 building design (2011)
  • A Neighborhood Design Overlay District was established to protect the Fields Corner historic character, existing scale and quality of the pedestrian environment; additional parking minimums and maximums were identified for the neighborhood, offering incentives for property and business owners to share the existing parking stock (2012)

Community Engagement

  • The Dorchester House is a social service organization dating back to the 1880s, founded by members of the first parish, Unitarian Church in Dorchester
  • The Dorchester Youth Collaborative (1981) was founded to introduce at-risk teens to education, enrichment, health, sports, performance arts and employment opportunities
  • Viet-AID has supported the Vietnamese community for over two decades with a community center (2000), 128 units of affordable housing, a small business assistance program, and early childhood education and afterschool programs; built a community garden and founded Fields Corner Connect, promoting public safety and awareness
  • Fields Corner Main Street is one of 20 Main Streets programs in Boston; through five committees, it works to improve storefronts, beautify streetscapes, conduct market research, recruit and assist businesses in the neighborhood, market the area as a unique place to shop, eat, live, and work

Amenities

  • The Field House remains, but has been altered from its original use as a residence
  • Town Field, also known as Christopher Gibson Field, has served as a ballfield, playground, and neighborhood gathering space for generations; once used as a professional baseball stadium in the mid-20th century, attracting crowds of 4,000 spectators; City of Boston has committed $275,000 toward updating the park along with a public art project still under development
  • The Municipal Building (1874) was designed in a Victorian Gothic style by Boston’s first official city architect, George Clough; listed on the National Register of Historic Places; has housed a police station, mini-city hall, courthouse, apartments, and even jail; public and private sources have donated $1.8 million for its preservation