September 11, 2017

 My mother came to visit me from China this weekend and she took me several places around the Greater Boston Area. One of those places were Somerville, because a family friend moved there for his job in Boston. I have heard of the place vaguely in the past but never had the chance to visit. 


Just a little context about my understanding of newly developing areas in Boston. I took a class in school called Infrastructure in the previous semester, and I did some Ethnographic fieldwork on the T, Boston's public transportation system. It is one of the oldest systems that exists in the US today, with many flaws arguably. In the past 50 years, new lines have been annexed to different lines under the operation of MBTA. Coincidentally(or not), the development of real estate had also rose along with it. 


The gentrification of many areas in the Boston and Great Boston Area is evident. Assembly in Somerville is one of those newest developments. As I entered the area, I noticed the tall stop lights in front of me and on the side walks. They did not seem to be functioning and all the cars just yielded and speeded around each other as one came and went. Everything was new. The sidewalks' cement was smooth and flawless. The roads were perfectly paved. The buildings on my right, some were brand new and some still in the process of construction. On my left, lined up 5 huge department stores: Public Storage, Bed Bath and Beyond, Trader Joe's, TJ Maxx, etc. The parking lots were filled, with cars still trying to look for that scarce empty spot. The sidewalk was busy. Couples, families, individuals; most were carrying at least one shopping bag or pushing a shopping cart. 


It kind of felt like a ghost town to me, except for the fact that there were people, an abundant of them. It feels like a town of pure consumerism, with no real community. I also noticed a lack of diversity in the people that were there. It was no question that this area is built for the upper-middle class, the white elites even more so. 


Comparing it to other more diverse and less affluent parts of Boston, I start to wonder how the future of Boston will look like.


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