Land, sea, and sky : environmental histories and planning conflicts in East Boston
Environmental histories and planning conflicts in East Boston
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning.
Anne Whiston Spirn.
MetadataShow full item record
Places are steeped in individual and collective memory. Places and their features become symbols which joy, grief, belonging and change: a beautiful park is a bitterly fought victory, a dilapidated playground a symbol of neglect, a looming condominium complex a represented betrayal. In reality, there are no neutral objects. A neighborhood is not simply an artful arrangement of homes, streets, parks, schools or shops. In reality, is composed of the stories residents tell. Residents of East Boston's Eagle Hill neighborhood currently oppose the siting of a proposed electrical substation on the banks of Chelsea Creek. The site is located next to a children's playground and waterfront parkland. Residents worry about the potential impacts of flooding on the site and effects of the substation on quality of life. East Boston and Chelsea are both immigrant and working-class communities.Both share deep memories and experiences of industrial and environmental burdens that are imposed on the area and the ways in which infrastructure convey siting and planning processes have imperiled them and their communities. The list of these burdens is long, and includes the noise and pollution from Logan Airport, the jet fuel, salt and heating oil stored alongside Chelsea Creek, and pollution from freeways and trucking from Expressway 1A. However, the public process by which utility companies site energy infrastructure is highly technical and standardized, and does not leave space for residents to describe these burdens and tell these context-specific stories. I interviewed residents, reviewed public record and media sources in order to characterize the types of histories in the minds of residents.I then produced four short vignettes with accompanying photo essays which describe public process, East Boston and the Massachusetts Port Authority, the industrial history of Chelsea Creek, and the future of East Boston, luxury development and climate change. Each of these vignettes inform how residents understand this current conflict, and reflect some of the inequalities and contradictions embedded in post-industrial Boston.
This electronic version was submitted by the student author. The certified thesis is available in the Institute Archives and Special Collections.Thesis: M.C.P., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, 2019Cataloged from student-submitted PDF version of thesis.Includes bibliographical references (pages 100-109).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Urban Studies and Planning
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.