2023 Feature, Large Newsroom finalist

The neighborhood that got it right

About the Project

“The neighborhood that got it right” is a visually rich, data-driven, deeply reported look into a phenomenon we don’t often hear about in America’s cities: development without displacement.

At the heart of the piece is a Boston neighborhood that offers a case study in resilience and renewal: Uphams Corner.

Writer David Scharfenberg takes the reader into the arson campaign that devastated the neighborhood in the 1960s, 1970s, and early 1980s. He profiles the community activists who built something new on the rubble. And he writes about the middle-class families of color who grew the neighborhood while preserving its culture.

The piece weaves in findings from a data science firm called Common Good Labs that identified nearly 200 neighborhoods around the country like Uphams Corner — and used machine learning to identify what these places have in common.

The result is a roadmap to the sort of equitable growth that urban planners have coveted for decades.

Historic photos of burned-out buildings and block parties, old video of a housing development taking shape on some of the neighborhood’s vacant lots, compelling photos of the present-day neighborhood, and a beautiful, cascading design by Heather Hopp-Bruce round out the piece.