At the southern end of Boston’s Orange Line on the “T” (subway system) lies a quaint neighborhood called Roslindale. Have you heard of it? While I was aware of Roslindale’s existence, I had no reason to visit until recently when I decided to make the trip down to visit the Arnold Arboretum (more on that here).
Roslindale is one of Boston’s 23 neighborhoods. It lies 6 miles southwest of downtown and is one of the larger neighborhoods geographically. Unlike the more central areas including Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and Chinatown, Roslindale has a strong community feel. This may be because Roslindale was once its own municipality. Roslindale was part of the town of Roxbury (now also incorporated into Boston), until it seceded in 1851 and remained independent until it voted in favor of annexation to the City of Boston in 1873. Today, Roslindale looks and operates much like a small town with its own business district, community center, and public schools.
As I mentioned, my trip to Roslindale was largely incidental. Aside from the Arboretum, this neighborhood is not a magnet for tourism. My foray into the area owed much to the fact that I was trying to find a café to recharge in before my commute back home. On my way, I took a residential path along charming houses with walkways and front porches. Each house is unique, but all are inviting, and have an it’s-a-beautiful-day-in-the-neighborhood sort of vibe. Heading towards the center, I walked down Robert St. and looked up to see banners proudly stating, “Roslindale Welcomes Everyone.” I continued down the street and turned onto what seemed to be a main road. It was a weekday afternoon and there was not much foot traffic. The cafes are cozy, the market a bit old-fashioned looking, and the storefronts unpretentious.
Roslindale seems to be a true “community” rather than just a space on a map. Roslindale also has a reputation for being “quirky.” I saw this peculiar qualifier listed a few times on fliers at a café. This informal designation seems to promote Roslindale as a one-of-a-kind community, welcoming of diversity and supportive of local enterprise.
Although I have no plans to pick up and move to the area, Roslindale really got me thinking about my future. I live in a modern apartment complex in a small unit. I can walk wherever and have easy access to public transportation. As a mid-20-something woman, this convenient, minimalist lifestyle suits me well. However, I know that my wants in life will change. Someday, I’m sure that I would like to live in a bigger place with more privacy. However, I know that the ability to walk to stores and cafes will always be important to me. Visiting Roslindale made me consider a potential future for myself. “Rozziedents” are distant from downtown yet have a community and enjoy all the creature comforts of the city without having to be in the center of it. In this way, everyone has room to grow and a daily retreat from the big city hubbub. I, someday, will want room to grow, and it makes me happy to know that there are these little pockets of Boston that offer the small-town feel.
I love being a tourist. I consider myself very grateful to be able to live in a city big enough to still be able find new places to visit and explore. Sometimes, Dear Reader, adventure is waiting in our own backyards.