Boston Redevelopment Authority.

Industrial land use survey, east Boston, north end, Charlestown, 1972 online

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A. Study Area 8

B. Building Condition 10

C. Building Density 11


A. East Boston 14

B . North End 16

C. Charlestov;n ' 17







4 Survey Area 7

4a Industrial Areas 9

7 Transport Lines 31

8a Potential Development Area 34

8c Assessed Value Map 39

8e Potential Development Area 41

• 8g Potential Development Area 43

8i Potential Development Area 45

8k Potential Development Area 47

8m' Potential Development Area 49

80 Potential Development Area 51

8o' Potential Development Area 52

8p Assessed Value 55

8p ' Assessed Value 56


8 Development Parcels 33

8b Breakdown of Parcel Values and Tax Cost 37

8d Development Parcels , 40 •

8f Development Parcels 42

8h Development Parcels 44

8 j Development Parcels 46

81 Development Parcels 48

8n Development Parcels 50

8q Breakdown of Parcel Values and Tax Cost 57


9 Proportionate Breakdown of Economic Activities58

9a Commercial Activities 59

9b Light Manufacturing Activities 61

9c Heavy Manufacturing Activities 62

9d V7arehousing Activities 63

9e Building Conditions 65

9f Degree of Use 67


9g Proportionate Breakdown of Economic Activities. 69

9h Commercial Activities 70

9i Light Manufacturing Activities 71

9j VJarchousing Activities 72

9k Building Conditions 73

91 Degree of Use 75


9m Proportionate Breakdown of Economic Activities 77

9n Comjiicrcial Activities 78

9o Heavy Manufacturing 7 8

9p Light Manufacturing 79

9q IJarc^liousing Activities .80

9r Building Conditions 81

9s Dccjroo of Use. . ; 0-3

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An inventory of industrial land uses was made by 'edIC

in August 1972. The survey covered three districts in the
northern part of the city of Boston. They are East Boston,
the North End, and Charlestov/n. (See Fig. "i) The three areas are
combined together in one report due to the small number of
manufacturing plants in each area individually. Although the
three districts have many similarities, physically and structur-
ally, there are some noticeable differences. The three district-
ive characteristics they have in common are (1) their former
dependence on the waterfront (2) the old age of the buildings
in which most manufacturing is performed and (3) the narrow-
ness and dilapidated nature of the streets. To a great extent
their pattern of historical development has also been very
similar. This industrial area is dominated by two gigantic
activities - the Logan International Airport in East Boston,
and the Navy and Coast Guard yard of the US Navy in Charlestown.

2) sum:^iary of findings:

The Charlestovm, East Boston and North End districts
are a place of contact providing services to both hinterland and
sea going activities. Their primary function has been the
transfer of goods and transport lines are the most critical
element in their functioning.

The Inner Harbor is a good interior port, with extended
waterfronts , well protected from the open sea. Bulk cargo such
as crude oil is the major activity along most of the waterfront.
Along the Mystic River Channel general cargo trade is to be
found. This has maximized the use of local labor. The U.S.
Navy and Coast Gaurd yards occupy most of the land along the
Inner Harbor v;ater front in Charlestown.

The importance of good road, rail, mass transit and
air and water transport to an industrial site cannot be over-
emphasized. An ideal industrial site would be near the water-
front but within switching limits of an interstate highway or
rail terminal. Such a location, ensuring rapid flows of goods
and people is to be found in East Boston and Charlestown. How-
ever at the present time much of East Boston, and Charlestown
and the North End , with their old industrial structures,
storage yards, vacant and parking parcels, neglected railroad
facilities and blighted residential and commercial properties •

are detrimental to all new industrial land requirements. Land
uses are unsightly and rundown in many places, uninviting to
new activity and a depressing environment for many people who
live and work there.


The important requirement in these three districts is a
realistic approach to the declining waterfront trade. Those
responsible for planning new highways, airways, truck terminals
and port development, can anticipate manufacturing growth
provided that some changes are made immediately. The availibility
of land at a reasonable cost, improvements in the roads and
streets leading to industrial parcels and removal of some of the
more objectionable problems such as dirty streets, on the street
parking and bad traffic control systems on main streets can
do much to upgrade the districts of Charlestown, East Boston and
the North End.

Further research is required to learn which industries
could realize important economies by locating in these districts.
If large parcels of land could be integrated into an industrial
area, a nucleas of waterfront linked activity may have an
opportunity to develop spontaneously. Industries based on oil
and petroleum may do v/ell, since the oil trade has been doing
very well in these districts and continues to grow. According
to the Boston Seaport 1970-1990 , the petroleum trade accounts
for 90% of the total Port of Boston Traffic.

There is a possibility that consumer oriented products m.ay
find these two districts a suitable location for manufacturing
their products. Although such a move may lead to the further
decline of the preeminence of the waterfront, it may on the other
hand serve to revitalize the tv;o districts by providing more
jobs, and better use of vacant and underused parcels, and also

Boston Seaport 1970-1990, Prepared by ABT Associates Inc for BRA


lead to the removal of some of the old and dangerous buildings
that are to bo found in several places.

Modern urban locations of manufacturing industries realize
few advantages fron a v/aterfront location due to their increased
orientation to service and consumer goods , requiring rapid and
frequent contact. Hov;ever , a demand for airport oriented uses
could be investigated, since Logan Airport is an important asset
to these districts. New industry may also find the extensive
highway facilities an advantage. They may be able to use some of
the existing and unused ware'houses and piers for more suitable
activities. In view of the shortage of industrial land in down-
town Boston, the garment, printing, furniture, automobile companies
may find this a desirable location.



Though having a somewhat similar historical backgrount^,
. Charlesto;,m, East Boston and the North End during the 19th

century developed a distinctive industrial life. This however
declined extensively since WV 11 and today many wharfs and piers
can be seen to be in disuse. The past industry of the nrea
can be seen in the nature of the buildings on the waterfront,
the layout of the rails and the streets and the types of manufac-
turing still to be seen on a few parcels.

East Boston is located on what was five islands in the
Massachusetts Bay. As a result of land filling these islands
are now a part of the peninsula that extends into Boston Harbor.
The area was sfettled at a very early date, but the development
of the district started after 1833 when the East Boston Company
purchased the entire island. Much of the subsequent growth
took the form of commercial-industrial uses, especially within
the shipping field. A rapid industrialization tooU place in the
1850 's, lending to East Boston and international spirit,
associated with the waves of immigration, the foreign trade that
was very extensive, leading to the establishment of sugar refiner-
ies, oil and lumber companies.

Charlestov/n till 1930 was occupied by persons of modetate

means, distilling and shipping were the major activiites.At a
very early date it had developed a sugar refinery, a hard goods

East Boston. Unpublished material. BRA 1970

Project Inprovomonts-Charlestov/n GNRP area. Prepared by
Edwards and Kclccy Engineers n Consultants for BliA June 19G3

factory, a lead company, a bleachery, and a gas and waterworks
company. The shipping of grains to foreign lands was a major
activity and grain elevators could be seen along the waterfront
in Charlestovm. The Navy Yard was established on the East Side

in 1800. 1


The economic developnent of the North End followed the •
same pattern of the former. It was heavily oriented to foreign
trade throughout. Grain, lumber were exported from its wharfs
and leather, v/ool, cotton and silk were imported for the New
England manufacturers.

The entire character of Charlestown, EAst Boston and the
North End began to change with the depression of the 1930's.
With the migration of industry to the South, the pattern of
foreign trade was reoriented. Many importing companies moved
to New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore. Several merged with
each other and many went out of business. The Navy Yard v/as the
only operation .that did not experience any significant decline,
although there v/ere several modernization projects that were
put into operation. Logan International Airport expanded
enormously during the years soon after the war . and continues
to do so today.

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A. Study Area-

In the Industrial Areas of Charlestown, East Boston and
the North End, the land zoned for manufacturing activities lies
all along the v/ater front. Specifically this land is adjacent"
to the Inner Harbor, the Chelsea River and the Mystic River.

In Charlestov/n this industrial lend forms a circular
zone around the entire district. It encloses a somev7hat triangular
residential district in the center, thus cutting off access to
the waterfront. East Boston is a residential community edged
by an industrial zone running along the v;estern and southern
side. To the east lies Logan International Airport so that
residents of East Boston , like Charlestown are cut off from
the waterfornt/ In the North End the industrial zone forms
a roughly semicircular belt along the Inner Harbor. Charlestown
and EAst Boston are connected to downtown Boston by two tunnels
the Callahan and Sumner , an MTA tunnel, the Charlestown! bridge
and the Warren Alienue bridge . However there are no accessways
between Charlestown and East Boston. or vice versa. Access to
the north is fairly good there are four bridges across the • • •
Mystic and the Chelsea Rivers. (See Fig. 4a)

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A. East Boston \

The building conditions in East Boston, as reported
from the field survey, shows very few buildings in excel-
lent condition. (See Building Condition Map) Of all the
buildings surveyed in East Boston, only 9.2% were report-
ed in excellent condition, while 48.3% were reported as
. moderate and 42.5% of them were in poor condition. (See
Building Condition Table 9e, Pg 65) The buildings re-
. ported in moderate and poor condition are scattered through-
out thejEast Boston area. Most of the buildings along ■ " '
the waterfront were reported in poor condition, possibly
due to age and disuse.

B. North End

The building conditions in the North End, as reported
from the field survey, shows most of "the buildings in mod-
erate condition. (See Building Condition Map) Of the three
possibilities of excellent, moderate, and poor; 68.1% were
reported as moderate in condition. (See Building Condition' '
Table 9k,73 ) Only 6.4% of the buildings in the North End
survey area were reported in excellent condition and 25.5%
of them were reported in poor condition.
C. Charlestown

The building conditions in the Charlestov/n survey
area showed similar features to those in the North End.
(see Building Condition Map) Of all the buildings re-
ported in the survey, 51.6% were reported as moderate in


condition. (See Building Conditions Table 9p, Pg 81)
Only 14. 5^0 of the buildings in Charles town were > reported
as excellent in condition and 33.9% of them were reported

in poor condition.



A. East Boston

The building density in East Boston, as shown on the
Building Density map, shows the 1 and 2 story structures
as the predominate type. No specific pattern exists in
their location except to say they are scattered over the
whole area. There are 17 buildings in the 3-4 story cate-
gory. No agglomerations exist among them. Commercial,
manufacturing, and warehousing each occupy some of the
3-4 story buildings. There are 3 buildings in the 5-6
. story category. Two of them are used by coimnercial con-
cerns, one on Border Street and the other on Liverpool
Street. The 3rd 5-6 story building is a warehouse on ■
New Street. Three buildings were reported in the 7+ story
category. Tv/o of these are warehouses, one located on
the corner of Marginal and Lewis Streets in an area of
large vacant tracts and the other is on New Street. The
3rd building in this category is a new Ramada Inn.
B. North End

As shown on the Building Density Map of the area
designated as the North End, there are relatively few
one story structures. These buildings are found mainly
along Commercial Street and Atlantic Avenue and arc being


uscd primarily by coimicrcial concerns. Only 8 buildings
were reported in the 2-story category. Tv/o areas of • '
2-story buildings stand out in the North End. One is
located in the area of Friend Street, Portland Street,
and Lancaster Street and being used by commercial acti-
vities. The other area is off of Atlantic Avenue and is
being used for light manufacturing and commercial uses.
The 3-4 story buildings are scattered in the area and
. many are located on Canal , Friend, and Portland Streets

mixed with 5-6 story buildings. The 5-6 story buildings
. are the most common type in the North End. Three major
clusters, used primarily by commercial and light manu-
facturers, stand out in this category. One grouping is
in the area of Canl, Friend, Portland, and Lancaster
Streets. Another is around Keany Square and the 3rd is
in an area bounded by North Street, Atlantic Avenue,
•Mercantile Street, and Cross Street. ' There were 8 build-
ings reported as 7+ story structures. These are scattered
in the North End and are used by conunercial, warehouse,
and light manufacturing uses.


The building density in Charlestown, as shown on the
Building Density map, has the one story structure as- the
most conuaon type. These buildings are scattered in the ■
district, but one small area does stand out as an agglo-
meration of one story structures. This is an area bounded
by Cambridge Street and the Boston and Maine RR tracks


and Rutherford Avenue and the Boston and Maine RR tracks
Most of these buildings are being used by light manufact-
urers and warehousers. The 2-story structures are the
2nd most common in Charles town. These buildings are
also scattered in the area with one clustering along '
Dorrance Street and Arlington Street. The buildings
here are used mainly by light manufacturing concerns.
The 3-4 story buildings are scattered in the district
with two areas exhibiting a concentration of them. One
of these concentrations is along Medford Street and in
use by light manufacturers and warehousers. The other
area is along Cambridge Street and Rutherford Avenue and
being used by light manufacturers. The 5-6 story build-
ings are very limited in Charlestown, only 8. Of these,
75% of them are off of Medford Street. Only 5 buildings
in Charlestown were reported as 7+ story structurers.
These are found mainly around the intersection of Med-
ford Street and Terminal Street.



■A. East Boston

Of those activities surveyed in the area designated
for the survey as East Boston, the warehousing sector was
predominant as far as the number of establishments. This
is followed respectivly by commercial, light manufactur-
ing, and heavy manufacturing. (Refer to Table 9,Pg 58)
The commercial sector, however, had the largest figure
of total parcel area occupied. This is somewhat mislead-
ing, however, since one concern reported under the com-
mercial sector was a drive-in theater which was located
on a parcel that covered 1,207,000 square feet. This fig-
ure is an anomoly to the average parcel size of the re-
maining commercial activities of which the average parcel
size is approximately 51,000 square feet. The survey of
East Boston reported a total of 87 establishments occupy-
ing 141.2 acres of parcel space. (Refer to Tables in Appendix)

The commercial activitdes in East Boston listed 30
establishments with -an average parcel size of approximately
two acres. As mentioned above, this figure is heavily in-
fluenced by the 1,207,000 square feet parcel. The commer-
cial concerns are scattered throughout the survey area
with the lack of them in some areas being more signifi-
cant than a concentration of them in any particular loca-
tion. (See Land Use Map) One small cluster does stand out
along Liverpool Street and Border Street. The specific
function of these firms was not reported in the field sur-
vey. A notable characteristic of the commercial activities


in EaGt Boston is their location being mixed v;ith ware-
housing and manufacturing firms in the majority of the
survey area.

Light manufacturing in East Boston has 19 establish-
ments occupying 21.2 acres with the average parcel size •
being slightly over 1 acre. Furniture and printing were
notable activities of the East Bostion manufacturers, but
due to the fact the products being produced was not avail-
able for each firm reported, it cannot be stated that these
are the most significant products of the district.. No
specific pattern exists in the location of manufacturing
firms and no area has what could be considered a high con-
centration or agglomeration of manufacturers. Six light
manufacturing firms are located on Border Street, but these
are spread along a stretch of approximately 3/4 of a mile.

Only six establishments in East Boston were reported
as heavy manufacturers. These six firms occupy approxi-
mately 9 acres of parcel space with the average parcel size
being 1 & 1/2 acres. The location of these firms is scat-
tered in the area, thus no agglomeration or pattern exists.
All six firms were reported form the field survey to have
a high degree of use indicating they must presently be
viable concerns .

The economic activity in East Boston which has the
most firms, 32, is the warehousing industry. This can be
attributed to the. historical development of the area based
on its location on the Boston Inner Harbor and the Chelsea
River. The warehousing sector of East Boston's economy


occupies approximately 49.3 acres of parcel space with
the average parcel size being about 1 1/2 acres. The
degree of use of tliese warehouses, however, has declined.
Presently, as reported from the field survey, only 9.4%
of all the v/arehouses are being heavily used. Most of
the warehouses are located in a linear pattern along
the waterfront. Fev/ of these buildings are new, only 2,
and 46.8% of them were reported in poor condition.

B. North End

Land use, in the section of the North End delimited
for the survey, shov;s a relatively small amount of econo-
mic activities scattered over the area. (See Land Use Map)
The field survey reported 47 firms operating in 'the North
End and occupying approximately 14.3 acres of parcel space.
(Refer to Tables in Appendix) Of the economic activities
in the North End, commercial was predominant with 21 firms
followed by light manufacturing, and v/arehousing. No
heavy manufacturers exist in the North End. (Table 9g , Pg 69)

The commercial activities in the North End occupy a
little over 4 acres of parcel space. Of these, the whole-
saling and retailing of furniture was the major activity.
The furniture district in the North End forms the major
agglomeration of commercial activities in. the district.
This is located on Friend Street, Canal Street, and Port-
land Street. These concerns were reported in moderate
condition with a moderate to heavy degree of use. (See
Commercial Tables in Appendix)

From the field survey, 16 firms were reported as


light manufacturers in the North End. Approximately 7
acres of parcel space are occupied by light manufact-
uring. The average parcel size is slightly less than
1/2 an acre. One major cluster of light manufacturers
exists in the North End. This is an area which lies be-
tween N. Washington Street and the SE Expressway and
Lovejoy Place and Traverse Street. This cluster is close
to a residential area which is located off of N. Washing-
ton on Thatcher Street and Endicott Street.

Warehousing in the North End has the least amount of
firms and covers the smallest amount of parcel space. The
field survey reported 10 warehouses occupying approximately
3 acres with the average parcel size being 14,131 square
feet. One cluster of warehouses in the North End is loca-
ted along Friend Street between Market and Traverse Streets.
The sites of these warehouses are mixed with commercial
C. Charles town

Land use in the area of Charlestov/n delimited for
the field survey, is one which has large areas of vacant
land, especially near the North End district, with com-
mercial, light manufacturing, and warehousing concerns
scattered in the district . (See Land Use Map) A total of
62 firms were reported in the area, occupying approximat-
ely 19 acres of land. (Refer to Tables in Appendix)
Light manufacturing was the predominant activity reported
. followed respectively by warehousing, commercial, and
heavy manufacturing. (Table 9m,Pg 77 )


The coimncrcial activities in Charlestown listed
13 firms occupying approximately 12 acres with 42,0 00
square feet being the average parcel size. No major
location feature exists in the commercial activities.
They are scattered in five areas and are overshadov/ed '
by warehouses and light manuf actureres . Rutherford,
Cambridge, and Load Streets are where 7 of the 13 com-
mercial interests are found.

Light manufacturing in Charlestown occupies 50.3%
of the parcel space surveyed. Twenty-four light manu-
facturers were reported in Charlestown occupying approxi-
mately 95 acres with an average parcel size of 4 acres. •
This figure is heavily influenced by 3 companies, Whiting
Milk, /American Surgar Refining, and Schrafft Candy, which
togeter account for over 2 million square feet of parcel
space. Three major clusters of light manufacturing stand
out in the Charlestown area. One cluster lies between
Rutherford Avenue and the Boston and Maine RR tracks and
Cambridge Street and Street D. Another cluster is located
in a triangular shaped area bounded by Arlington Street,
Dorrancc Street, and Sherman Street. Several large com-
panies, (Schrafft, American Sugar. Refining, Revere Sugar
Refining) are located along Medford Street and where Med-
ford meets Main Street. From the data gathered in the

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Online LibraryBoston Redevelopment AuthorityIndustrial land use survey, east Boston, north end, Charlestown, 1972 → online text (page 1 of 3)