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Community Snapshot

Charlestown

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June 3, 2008

THE GOODS: Let's face it, there was a time when this Boston neighborhood was infamous as the home for the less than savory. But that was before the Navy Yard became home to millionaires and housing values skyrocketed, driven by an influx of the wealthy and single. New faces abound, but the old attractions remains, including the USS Constitution (a must see no matter your age) and the sense of neighborhood deriving from the geography of being close, but apart, from the core of Boston. The Town, as Townies call it, starts in surprisingly peaceful City Square and ends with the traffic madness of Sullivan Square. First settled by outsiders in 1629, Charlestown was burned to the ground by the British in 1775 after they won the Battle of Bunker Hill (fought on Breed's Hill.)

PROS: What's not to like about a place near enough to the North End, the harbor and downtown offices that each can be reached with just a vigorous walk? Top shelf restaurants have followed the fattened wallets of the newer residents drawn to the waterfront and hilly terrain. Life here is lived cheek-by jowl. The core of old Charlestown has pretty streets of Federal, Greek Revival and classic Victorian homes, with gaslight-style lighting. The Navy Yard has a variety of waterfront-hugging accommodations, the more expensive among them offering views of the Boston skyline

CONS: The affluent who float through here are not settlers; home ownership is just 42 percent. Don't come looking here for a McMansion fronted by lots of water-sucking grass. Grass is found in parks or in one's imagination, which is also about the only place where a regular supply of parking exists. Condos, seemingly the size of walk-in closets, constitute the more affordable end of the market. And long time residents say the Navy Yard is a world until itself.

JOHN RICHARDSON ELLEMENT

Median home price: Single family, $680,000 (2008); Condominiums, $473,500
Residential tax rate: $10.97 (citywide)
Average tax bill: Single-family homes, $3,801 (citywide)
Choice location: The Training Field and its 19th Century statue in honor of American servicemen, which is soon to be freshened with donated money.
Cocktail party nugget: Birthplace of Samuel FB Morse, the creator of the Morse code.
SOURCES: Warren Group, the Charlestown Preservation Society, city of Boston, Massachusetts Department of Revenue.

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