April 27, 1968

Activists Erect Tent City in Boston

Greater Boston

On this day in 1968, hundreds of demonstrators occupied a parking lot in Boston's South End. Houses on the site had recently been demolished, and their occupants displaced. To protest this kind of "urban renewal," neighborhood activists created a temporary "tent city." Along with thousands of supporters, they spent a long weekend at what one reporter called "an impromptu urban fair." Thanks to an attentive media, they won public sympathy for their cause. After four days, the protesters left the site. They did not, however, give up the fight for affordable housing in Boston. It took 20 years, but their persistence paid off. The parking lot was eventually transformed into the Tent City development that is now home to several hundred mixed-income families.

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