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Project Decription
10 May 2015
Published To
Description

This project takes a dive into Chinatown's Harrison Ave from Essex St to Kneeland St. Chinatown is bordered by Central Artery Project as well as by two subway lines, and the silver line. According to the Access Boston 2000-2010: Boston Transportation Fact Book and Neighborhood Profiles shares that Essex Street has a roadway volume of 6,000 and Kneeland Street has one of 20,000, while Harrison Ave is only 2,000 (Boston Transportation Department, 2002 18). They also describe both Kneeland St and Boylston St to be "serve as major east-west arterials for Boston" (Boston Transportation Department, 2002 18). Also, very few pass through Harrison Avenue, which based on my observations looked to be the major intersection of commercial Chinatown. Furthermore, while looking through Wing-kai To's Images of America book, Chinese in Boston, 1870-1965, I noticed that several large parades and events occurred on Harrison Avenue, which is why I decided to focus on Harrison Ave for my project.

 

After determining my site, I based my project on the pedestrian mode of transit. Access Boston state's that "walking is the dominant mode of travel in these districts […] conversely, car ownership is amongst the lowest in the city" (Boston Transportation Department, 2002 19). Despite the large volume of people that go through Chinatown, they do not experience Chinatown's liveliness because they are using the area simply as a conduit for rapid travel. In taking the pedestrian route, I wanted to experience how the majority of people determined to explore Chinatown, which would allow more acute observations than by one of automobile transit.

 

 

Transit is critical to this project because often transit structures can create huge changes to people's lives by affecting housing (displacement), health (pollution and resulting asthma) and general living (sounds and visuals you see). Furthermore, often, physical structures of transit are placed in communities of disadvantage because they do not have the political power to counter those making decisions. This is what happened with Chinatown, as Asian Community Development Corporation, talks about in their Chinatown Walking Tour (J. Hah, personal communication, April 14, 2015). The CAFEH (Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure of Health Study) also shares this in their Highway to Health YouTube video. Therefore, creating ways to share stories for areas that are disproportionately impacted by transit decisions would help bring their voices to the space, instead of keeping them silent and ignoring them as those in privilege can zoom by the community instead of interacting with the community.


References

Boston Transportation Department. (2002). Access Boston: Boston Transportation Fact Book and Neighborhood Profiles. Boston, MA: City of Boston. 

Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure of Health Study. (2012, March 1). Highway to Health [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=343&v=ADj3LCOEYNQ.

To, W. K. (2008). Chinese in Boston: 1870-1965. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing.

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