10.14.2004

Dunkin' North End

In today's Daily Free Press there was an editorial about the move to establish a Dunkin Donuts on Hanover Street in the North End. It pretty much was against the move and said it would take away the North End's soul. I wrote a response and here it is:

Believe it or not, a Dunkin Donuts in the North End would not be the end of the world, or even the stamping out of the North End's "soul", which is being stamped out by much larger forces.

Exactly who are residents and business owners who oppose the establishment of a coffee and breakfast pastry shop in the North End? Are they the condo residents who have squeezed out the Italian-immigrant settlers of the neighborhod that came between the turn of the 20th century until the 1950's and 60's, or are they the non-resident owners of cafes and restaurants who fear a sub-three dollar cup of regular coffee will steal all their business?

It's understandable that any neighborhood would like to keep its identity (especially if it's positive and business friendly), however the North End is still a neighborhood with people living in it. According to the Weekly Dig ("Tempest in a Coffeepot") and Boston Globe ("Confection Contention" 10/9/04), North End seniors -- and presumably the longest serving residents -- welcome Dunkin' Donuts around the corner, rather than treking to Charlestown for their coffee and pastries.

While developers swoop in to replace old buildings (that would be listed as "charming" by a real estate agent in another neighborhood) with million-dollar condos for up-and-coming yuppies, a Dunkin Donuts should be welcome for its blue-collar connotation and the brand of local identity it brings.

The establishment of Dunkin Donuts in the North End would not be the first franchise or chain (CVS, White Hen Pantry, and 7-11 are all on Hanover Street), nor would it even be the first incarnation of a Dunkin Donuts in the North End (previous locations have included Commerical Street and Salem Street).

When immigrant Italian Americans came to Boston and settled in the North End, they didn't intend on staying there. The whole point of living in the North End was to get out of it. Now after a nearly a hundred years, the neighborhood has forged a unique identity and become a destination. Opposers to the Dunkin Donuts on Hannover Street should take a look beyond the dollar signs and focus their gaze towards something more introsepective. What makes the North End the "North End"?

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