About Jamaica Plain
Jamaica Plain is a historic neighborhood of 4.4 square miles (11 km2) in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded by Boston Puritans seeking farm land to the south, it was originally part of the city of Roxbury. The community seceded from Roxbury as a part of the new town of West Roxbury in 1851, and became part of Boston when West Roxbury was annexed to Boston in 1874. In the 19th century, Jamaica Plain became one of the first streetcar suburbs in America and home to a significant portion of Boston's Emerald Necklace of parks, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. According to an official city estimate, it had a population of 38,196 in October 2003.
In the 1980s low rents brought many students to the area, especially those who attended the Museum School, Mass Art, and Northeastern University, who often lived in collective households. In addition, the neighborhood also developed a lesbian and gay community. The presence of artists in the neighborhood led to the opening of local galleries and bookstores, and arts centers like the converted Firehouse. Many first-time homebuyers were able to afford the house and condominium prices in Jamaica Plain during this time.
Revitalization continued in the 1990s. Nonprofit housing groups bought up rundown houses and vacant lots to create low-income rental units. During the same years, the former Plant Shoe Factory site was redeveloped as JP Plaza, a strip mall, and later a supermarket. A new facility for the Martha Eliot Health Center completed the site's redevelopment. As part of a city-wide effort, Boston Main Streets districts were named (Hyde/Jackson Square, Egleston Square, and Centre/South), bringing city funds and tools of neighborhood revitalization to local business owners.
Latin-American market near Hyde SquareBy the turn of the century, the neighborhood had attracted a large community of college-educated professionals, political activists and artists such as those involved with the Whitehaus artists' collective and The Whitehaus Family Record.
Hyde, Jackson, and Egleston Squares have significant Spanish-speaking populations from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. As of 2000 the ethnic make-up of Jamaica Plain was 50% Non-Hispanic White, 23% Hispanic or Latino, 17% Black or African-American, 7% Asian-American, 3% Other.
There is a strong Jewish presence in Jamaica Plain, with several reform and conservative synagogues binding together the Jewish community.
A hot real estate market has driven conversion of homes and older commercial buildings into condominiums. Numerous formerly vacant structures are being converted to residential use, among them the ABC Brewery, the Gormley Funeral Home, the Eblana Brewery, the Oliver Ditson Company, 319 Centre Street, Jackson Square, JP Cohousing, Blessed Sacrament, Our Lady of the Way, and 80 Bickford Street.