The origin of Mission Hill is best described by the Boston Landmarks Commission brochure titled Exploring Boston’s Neighborhoods – Mission Hill.
“Mission Hill’s name reflects two of the most important facets of the area. The neighborhood is built on historic Parker Hill, a rocky drumlin left behind by a prehistoric glacier. People began referring to the area as Mission Hill rather than Parker Hill after the construction of the Mission Church complex at the end of the 19th century. Originally a section of the independent town of Roxbury, Mission Hill became part of Boston when Roxbury was annexed to the city in 1868. It has grown from a farming area into an ethnically diverse urban neighborhood with important religious, medical and educations institutions.”
From this beginning Mission Hill developed as a residential area at the turn of the century with the construction of Boston style triple-decker housing throughout the neighborhood. The original German settlers, soon to be joined by Irish immigrants, worked in the local factories and breweries. Soon after many of Boston’s hospitals moved into the neighborhood forming what is today the Longwood Medical Area.
Mission Hill is a one square mile neighborhood located approximately one mile from Boston’s downtown business district. Approximately three quarters of the neighborhood is residential made-up of privately owned one to three family buildings and a number of multi-family buildings built from 1940s through the1960s. The Longwood Medical Area (LMA) makes up the other one quarter of the neighborhood. Within the LMA are 21 institutions focusing on health care, research, education and cultural activities. These institutions are responsible for the largest concentration of jobs in City of Boston outside of the central business district employing 37,000 people with more than 52,000 people working or studying in the LMA on a typical weekday.
Mission Hill’s population of 18,722 people is racially and economically diverse. The median household family income is $27,371. Thirty-six percent of the households are below the poverty level. The median household income in Mission Hill is $27,371 and the unemployment rate for the neighborhood is 7.4%. The Mission Hill population is 19% African America, 48% White, 16% Latino, 14% Asian and 2% other.
Over the last thirty years the neighborhood’s residential area has been solidified and expanded through the efforts of a number of resident driven neighborhood initiatives including Roxbury Tenants of Harvard, Mission Main Tenant Task Force, Alice Taylor Tenant Task Force and the Back of the Hill Community Development Corporation. These organizations are responsible for over 2000 new or rehabbed housing units in Mission Hill.
With the completion of One Brigham Circle, MHNHS has transformed a once blighted property and parcel into Mission Hill’s shopping and neighborhood center.