While Quincy continues to be strongly influenced by its proximity to Boston, no overview of the City is complete without discussing the importance of its neighborhoods. Pockets of development that ultimately determined the landscape of the City years later characterized Quincy's early history. Natural barriers and resources, along with the economic activity that exploited them, contributed to the development of distinct and unique residential patterns around these pockets that endure today. While people in Quincy share a strong sense of place in association with the City, these pockets evolved into neighborhoods that are sources of community identity and pride. Quincy's neighborhoods are described below.
Adams Shore was developed as a summer resort area but has since evolved into a year-round residential community. Its development has progressed more gradually than other Quincy neighborhoods. As Cape Cod has become more popular for summer vacationers from the Boston area and the water quality has deteriorated along beaches adjacent to Boston Harbor, Adams Shore has attracted families more interested in Quincy's year-round amenities. The neighborhood is now fully built out and promises to be one of Quincy's more sought after residential neighborhoods as the Boston Harbor cleanup improves the water in Quincy Bay and local beaches regain their popularity.
This residential peninsula was one of the first established on the South Shore. The original settlers called the area Shed's Neck when they established the neighborhood circa 1640. As shipbuilding became a prominent industry in the area, German workers settled there in large numbers and the neighborhood assumed the "Germantown" moniker. Germantown became home to the first planned industrial community in the United States as a result of the expansion of the Fore River Shipyard. As local industry declined the neighborhood became rural once more and fishing and farming replaced shipbuilding. In this century it has experienced significant residential development in the form of single-family and public housing. Today it is home to some of the most affordable housing in Quincy, with 900 units operated by the Quincy Housing Authority. Germantown's active neighborhood association expects to have a new CDBG assisted facility by 2000.
Houghs Neck escaped the early development of other Quincy neighborhoods because of its isolated location. It was maintained as farmland until the late 1800s, when it became a popular summer spot for fisherman and tourists from around the region. As local fish stocks were depleted and area waters fouled, the summer cottages and year-round residences replaced hotels. Houghs Neck today is densely developed, and the rather aged housing stock has experienced rejuvenation as the neighborhood has begun to attract professionals who appreciate its ocean views. Known as "God's Country" to the locals, or 'Neckers' as they are referred to, Houghs Neck is known for being a close-knit neighborhood with many families and extended families living on the peninsula.
This neighborhood was the initial site of Quincy's settlement and was home to a large Indian population until the Adams family acquired it. Eventually the area was sold off as housing lots during Quincy's burgeoning residential development in the early 1900s. The subsequent development consisted of single-family dwellings and the area was fairly built out by the WWII postwar period. The hilly terrain provides some of the best vistas of the bays and marshlands in Quincy, which contributes to the popularity of this neighborhood for homebuyers.
The Montclair neighborhood in North Quincy is bordered by the Neponset River to the north, Sherman and North Central Streets to the south, Newport Avenue on the east, and the Town of Milton on the west. This neighborhood was once part of Dorchester; it became part of the Town of Quincy in 1792.
Like Wollaston, most of the Montclair was built in the early 1900's. From earliest colonial times until the Civil War, North Quincy was referred to as "The Farms" and it was to the farmlands of Montclair that real estate entrepreneurs beckoned the nearby inhabitants of Boston and its suburbs. The Micaih Pope farm was one of the largest to be subdivided: Arthur D. McCellan cut it into street and house lots in 1883 calling it "Montclair".
North Quincy developed its residential character later than many other Quincy neighborhoods, owing to the presence of a horseracing track operated by the Jockey Club of Boston at the turn of the 1800s. The area was then referred to as Billings Plain, and was also utilized by the local militia as training and parade grounds. Residential tract development ideally suited for North Quincy's flat terrain produced a dense pattern of single family lots during the early 1900s. In the 1970s, the North Quincy Red Line subway station was constructed to service increasing numbers of area residents and commuters to the new State Street Bank complex. More recently, Quincy's growing Asian population has settled predominantly in North Quincy. Their influence can be seen in the commercial district, which has seen major CDBG public works improvements recently.
Since its origins as a small fishing village, this neighborhood has been shaped by the prominence of industrial production over the course of Quincy's history. Since colonial times, the settlement has focused on the sea or its livelihood, beginning with fishing and shipbuilding. The large amount of workers required to support the phenomenal growth of shipbuilding brought many local and immigrant laborers to the neighborhood to establish their livelihoods. The result was one of Quincy's most dense and diverse neighborhoods, dominated by small single family lots centered around the shipyard. Significant redevelopment of the area has occurred as the shipyard has diminished, with commercial and residential development becoming more prominent in recent years.
South Quincy and West Quincy
The granite industry was the determinant of growth in this area of Quincy. Much like the shipbuilding industry, the labor intensive quarrying and production of granite brought low-skilled immigrant workers to the area, many of whom maintained a permanent presence long after the industry's zenith. This area was somewhat more isolated than other neighborhoods, resulting in more sparsely settled development. The legacy of many of the related service-based enterprises that catered to the needs of quarry workers and the industry is still evident, however.
Squantum was once the seat of power for local Indians, and remains a focal point and premium address among Quincy's residential neighborhoods. Over the years it became a popular summer resort area, and was the site of many historical events and developments in the infancy of American aviation. The nearby airfield served as one of the first regional airports before its value as a military installation for naval aviation was established. The summer cottages eventually gave way to year-round homes after a permanent causeway was built to allow access for automobiles. Squantum is now home to significant gentrification and home improvement.
Fun Fact: According to geologists, the Squantum area of Quincy is more than 250,000,000 years old and seems to be of glacial origin.
Wollaston was settled early in Quincy's history, but gained particular prominence as a commuter shed for Boston's professionals upon the advent of commuter rail. The Old Colony Railroad provided easy access to the financial and commercial districts of Boston during their formative years, thus attracting well-off employees from Boston who sought a more serene and secure life for their families than the city could afford. The area has since developed into a dense grid of residential streets, with apartment buildings also present in sections close to the MBTA Red Line. Wollaston possesses a vibrant commercial district, which has recently received CDBG funded public works improvements. It also has a popular golf course that attracts players from across the region. Home of the time-honored Wollaston Theater, it maintains a full complement of stores and professional services. Fun Fact: The first of the nationally famous Howard Johnson's was founded in Wollaston. At the time it was home to Mr. Johnson himself.
Quincy Center was the original nucleus around which the commercial and administrative heart of Quincy developed. It was in this neighborhood that the Adams families established their homes and many prominent citizens of the Boston social and business scene established their roots in the area. The first substantial transportation routes in Quincy were established through the Center, and these conduits became major thoroughfares from Boston to the rest of the South Shore as it developed. Quincy Center ultimately developed into the main retail center in Quincy, and subsequently Quincy College was established across from the Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy's main branch. Nearby City Hall sits adjacent to the Quincy Center Red Line and Old Colony Commuter Rail. More recently, the area has rebounded from competition from suburban retail malls, and significant office space has been created in new mixed-use developments such as Presidents Place. These new offices, combined with the many historic sites in Quincy Center, a YMCA and several banks, have contributed to a revived business district that offers an array of services and retail products to tourists, employees and residents.