South Boston – "Southie" to the natives – holds a significant place in American history. Historically, George Washington was able to force British troops from Boston by positioning his cannon at the highest point in Dorchester Heights. It happens that this was the location of Fort William and Mary, a British stronghold, which quickly became Fort Independence with a fortification built of brick surrounding it.
Before the Civil War, granite became the choice to replace the crumbling brick. The Fort still stands as a National Historic Landmark on Castle Island – an attraction not lost on visitors to the former isthmus. It is a proud entry on the National Register where the Concord Bridge and Lexington Green keep it company.
Years ago, a slender strip of land was the connection between colonial Dorchester on the mainland and Dorchester Heights. This narrow connector strip is an isthmus - a geographical land form that no longer exists. Today, this area has 3 of the finest, most relaxing beaches available for enjoyment by the public. Carson Beach offers many creature comforts.
The center of Southie is Dorchester Heights, a neighborhood with the highest altitude here. It also gives a commanding view of Downtown Boston and Boston Harbor. Land in this neighborhood now covers more area than its colonial counterpart. Among the amenities is the Carson Beach, which features a walkway open to walkers, bikers and runners along the edge of the water leading from Castle Island to the Kennedy Library.
The isthmus became wider with the establishment of a reclamation landfill. South Boston is now part of the mainland, although it maintains its own identity as a separate entity from Dorchester. However, between 1800 and 1870, the City of Boston adjoined each the two communities to Boston itself. Recent years brought skyrocketing property values to this area. This is especially true of the City Point neighborhood near the not-to-be-missed Castle Island.
The 1970s brought South Boston national attention as residents vocally stood in opposition to court-mandated busing of their children to schools in other neighborhoods. Southie always was home to an independent population who were friendly, yet somewhat inflexible, especially when intrusions upset daily life. Narrow streets belie the advent of motorized vehicles and the streets remain today as the protective barrier for this historical neighborhood.