It was once a vibrant neighborhood, but was cleared out to make way for hospitals, hotels and upscale condos emblematic of a new Boston. Fifty years later, those that remember the neighbors and streets of the "old" West End are becoming as scarce as the landmarks of their youth.
“Watching them clear out our house,” said Jim Campano, 68, of the memories of his last moments as a resident of the West End, most of which was razed in a controversial case of urban renewal.
The Campanos, who moved to Somerville, were among roughly 12,000 West End residents displaced. Today, Campano helps keep alive memories of the old neighborhood as the editor-publisher of “The West Ender.”
However, nearly half of the latest edition contains obituaries and death notices, a grim reminder that the number of those who can still recall the thin, crowded, diverse streets of the long-gone neighborhood is shrinking. The original "West Enders" are an endangered species.
Campano himself is one of three surviving members from a family of 11.
“It was a street society. Everyone would come out and play and everyone knew each other,” said Campano, who runs The West End Museum with 70-year-old Bruce Guarino, an old classmate at St. Joseph’s Parochial School on now-defunct Chambers Street. “But a lot of them have passed away.
“The last one out will have to shut the lights.”