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Centre St. from Forbes St. to the Hyde Square rotary, Jamaica Plain - Metro US

Centre St. from Forbes St. to the Hyde Square rotary, Jamaica Plain

It’s often said that Boston is a city of neighborhoods. Each week, Metro will toss a dart at a map of the Hub, then provide you a snapshot of what we’ve found.

From the front step of La Casa de los Regalos — “The House of Gifts” — 74-year-old owner Aida Lopez keeps a close watch on Hyde Square.

She makes sure kids pick up their candy wrappers, shovels ice and snow from her storefront and shoos motorists who park in the bus drop-off zone.

“That’s the law and they have to respect the law,” said Lopez, who left Cuba 39 years ago and now owns six buildings on the block.

Lopez, regarded by some as the eyes and ears of this block, plans to return to Cuba someday. For now, reminders of her native country are all around in a strip that has dozens of Cuban-American businesses.

They mix well with one-of-a-kind spots like the Brendan Behan Pub and The Video Underground, featuring flicks you won’t necessarily find elsewhere.

A handful of storefronts are dark, but the block remains vibrant and 52 new condo units are going up at its end, aside the Blessed Sacrament School. Most certainly, Lopez is eyeing that, too.

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