by Lydia Lowe and Lawrence Joe
photos by Don Misumi
Boston Chinatown residents, former residents, and community leaders staged a community speak out today to call for the return of Parcel 24, a 90,000 square foot parcel of Mass Turnpike Authority land, to the Chinatown community. The event took place in front of the cement wall that stands at the site of the displaced Hudson Street neighborhood, land that the State took for highway construction.
Part of Chinatown was destroyed when the Central Artery and Mass Turnpike Extension were built 40 years ago. Hundreds of homes, a branch library, churches, stores, restaurants, and social clubs were lost. Now, Chinatown has the chance to reclaim part of this lost neighborhood with a piece of land east of Hudson Street called Parcel 24.
The speak out comes at a midpoint in the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority's series public meetings to discuss the community's vision for Parcel 24. The sticking point in these meetings has been the community's demand to return the land for $1, while the Turnpike Authority seeks to raise funds toward cost overruns of the Big Dig from the sale of such parcels. Former Hudson Street homeowners say that they received less than one third of the value of their property when it was taken by eminent domain in the 1960s for construction of the Central Artery and Massachusetts Turnpike Extension.
Residents testified of their experiences in being displaced community members, and local activists and students performed a skit presenting their case to the media The event was sponsored by the Hudson Street for Chinatown coalition.