Jul 26, 2014
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Maps Show 'Class Divide' in Somerville, Boston

Half of Somerville is dominated by the "service class," the other half is filled with the "creative class," and the "working class" is nowhere to be seen, according to The Atlantic Cities.

Maps Show 'Class Divide' in Somerville, Boston Maps Show 'Class Divide' in Somerville, Boston

Somerville is a city divided almost in half by class, according to an article posted on The Atlantic Cities. The article provides a map that shows just where that divide is drawn.

Somerville's class divide mirrors what's seen throughout the Boston area, the article indicates.

A city of "service class" and "creative class"

A map of the Metro Boston area depicts the entire region by Census tracts, and if you zoom in you can focus on Somerville.

What the map shows is that, by and large, the eastern and northern part of Somerville is populated by members of the "service class" and the southern and western part of the city is populated by members of the wealthier "creative class."

Nowhere in Somerville, and nowhere in Boston, is there an area dominated by the "working class"—a point The Atlantic article emphasizes.

As the article notes, "Boston, the veritable birthplace of America's industrial revolution, the hardscrabble working-class town where Whitey Bulger held sway for so long, hometown of the archetypal juvie-turned-rapper-turned-movie star Mark Wahlberg, is now completely post industrial. There is not a single Census tract in the city where the working class makes up as much as half of the residents."

Back to Somerville, the map shows the Winter Hill, East Somerville, Ten Hills and Magoun Square areas as places dominated by the service class, representing people who engage in "low-wage, low-skill work in routine jobs such as food service and preparation, retail sales, and clerical and administrative positions." Throughout the Boston metro area, workers in the service class earn an average of $33,738 in wages, the article says.

Other service-class neighborhoods include Dorchester, Roxbury and Allston.

The map shows the areas around Inman Square, Porter Square, Spring Hill, Davis Square, Teele Square and West Somerville are filled with members of the creative class, representing people who "work in science and technology, business and management, arts, culture media and entertainment, and law and healthcare professions." Metro Boston members of the creative class earn an average of $84,403 in wages, according to the article.

Other creative-class areas include most of Cambridge, downtown Boston and Brookline.

Transit attracts the creative class

The article also points to transit lines as harbingers of creative-class populations, saying, "Boston's creative class follows and is organized around its main transit lines, especially the MBTA's Red and Green lines."

It specifically mentions Somerville as a place affected by Boston's housing crunch, noting, "Driven by sky-high housing prices in Boston and Cambridge, the surrounding communities of Somerville and Arlington have seen significant gentrification and revitalization. Somerville's Assembly Square project, a large-scale, mixed-use redevelopment project of 2,100 residential units, more than 2.5 million square feet of retail and office space, and a 200-room hotel next to a new Orange line station, is scheduled for completion next year."

In fact, it's the first phase of Assembly Row that's scheduled to be compete in 2014. According to the Boston Globe, the first phase includes four buildings and about 450 apartments along with retail space, restaurants and a new AMC movie theatre—but you get the point.

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