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Rustbelt Massachusetts fading fast?

Posted by Scott Van Voorhis March 17, 2014 03:27 PM

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I guess that recent report on how Boston tops the nation in gentrification got me thinking.

Anybody who grew up in Massachusetts before the 1980s has seen some sweeping changes.

Here's an except from my weekly Banker & Tradesman column. Looking at it, I would make clearer the distinction between inside I-495 and Eastern Massachusetts and the rest of the state.

While Massachusetts is a fast fading memory in the populous and wealthy eastern third of our state, the same can't be said of Central and Western Massachusetts.

Here's what I wrote today in B&T:

For better or worse, the rustbelt Massachusetts I grew up in back in the 1970s is long gone. Capes and modest apartments have been bulldozed to make way for gaudy McMansions and gilded downtown condos, while legions of super wealthy techies, bionerds and investments managers are edging out middle-class and blue-collar families.

Now there are some hard numbers to back up what frankly anyone who grew up in the Bay State before the 1980s has long known.

Our state's capital city and economic powerhouse, Boston, is number one in the country when it comes to gentrification, outpacing even San Francisco and New York, a new report by the Cleveland Fed finds.

And while the study did not extend into the suburbs, all you need to do is check out the home prices in what were once blue collar towns like Watertown and Franklin to see that gentrification pressures are clearly reaching out to 495, if not beyond. Before our very eyes, gentrification is remaking Boston - and much of Eastern Massachusetts. And significantly, much of it is happening with a minimum of debate or even recognition.

Extreme Makeover, Metro Edition

The numbers are just astounding. More than a quarter of all Bostonians now live in formerly low-income neighborhoods that have since been gentrified, the Fed report finds. And that number is likely higher now ? the Cleveland Fed study doesn't go past 2007, which is significant, given prices have rebounded from their Great Recession lows and have hit new highs in many Boston neighborhoods.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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