Fenway, Back Bay, South End Show Growth in Census Numbers

All three of the key downtown neighborhoods showed growth in population according to the Census 2020 numbers released by the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) research division late last week, though overall diversity numbers in all three neighborhoods are still quite low compared to other parts of the city.

Fenway showed the largest growth of the neighborhoods, growing by 3,838 people for a total of 37,733 people – an all-time high in the neighborhood going back to the 1950 Census when there were 25,804.

Unlike some neighborhoods that suffered under Urban Renewal exodus, the Fenway has continued to show incremental growth since the 1960 Census.

This time around, the neighborhood was 54 percent White, down from 65 percent in 2010, with the lion’s share of growth coming from the Asian population, which increased from 19 percent to 24 percent of the neighborhood. Hispanic residents made up 9.6 percent of the population, and Black residents 6.3 percent of the neighborhood.

In the Fenway, only 2.6 percent of the population were children 17 and under – one of the lowest numbers in the city.

The South End grew by a notable margin (2,761 people) for the first time since the 1990 Census when there were 24,101 residents. In 2020, the South End had 29,373 residents counted in the Census.

In the South End, diversity numbers went down in every category, just as the White population increased since 2010 from 54 percent to 56.5 percent. The Black population went from 13 percent in 2010, to 10 percent in 2020; the Hispanic population went from 14 percent in 2010, to 12.8 percent in 2020; and the Asian population pretty much stayed the same at 16 percent.

The numbers of children, following a citywide pattern, decreased from 14 percent to 11.7 percent in 2020.

Historically, the South End population is quite low, as like Charlestown, it was one of the neighborhoods that emptied out from 1950 to 1980 – mostly due to Urban Renewal policies and increasing crime. In 1950, the South End was at its peak with 49,753 residents. By 1970, that had decreased to 21,876 residents. Over the last few Census counts, it has begun to climb back up.

The Back Bay saw numbers that were approaching its high from 1950, when there were 21,228 residents in the Back Bay. In 2020, the Census recorded 19,588 residents, which was an increase of 2,966 people over the 2010 Census figures. Since the 1990 Census, the Back Bay has hovered in the 16,000 resident range, and this was the first notable increase in the neighborhood in 30 years.

The diversity numbers for the Back Bay were not very diverse as compared to the rest of the City, but the growth in the neighborhood seemed to land on an increase in the Asian population.

The Asian population in 2020 was 13.2 percent, which was an increase from 9 percent in 2010. The White population decreased from 79 percent to 71.7 percent, while the Hispanic population was unchanged at 6 percent. The Black population in the Back Bay decreased from 4 percent in 2010 to 3.6 percent in 2020.

The numbers of children 17 and under in the Back Bay was 6 percent of the population.

Citywide, Boston’s rate of growth exceeded that of the Commonwealth and the nation, which both grew at 7.4 percent over the past decade. South Boston Waterfront is the Boston neighborhood that grew the fastest, growing 195 percent from just 1,889 in 2010 to 5,579 in 2020. According to the Census data, Allston’s population fell by 5.9 percent, with a 40 percent decline in the group quarters population. This suggests that the college dorm population of Allston may have been incorrectly counted in the wake of the pandemic.
Boston grew fast in its diverse populations, especially amongst the Hispanic and Asian populations. The Hispanic population in Boston grew by 17 percent overall since 2010, and that group makes up 18.7 percent of the City’s total population – mostly located in East Boston and Dorchester. The Asian population citywide grew by 38 percent over 2010, and that racial group now makes up 11.2 percent of the City’s population. The White population citywide grew by 3.8 percent (44.6 percent total), but the Black population fell by 6.4 percent and makes up 19.1 percent of the total population now.

The overall population of children in Boston has continued to erode and now only makes up 15 percent citywide, down from 17 percent in 2010.

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