COLLECTION GUIDES

1970-1977

Guide to the Collection


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection contains records related to the Park Plaza Development Project in Boston, kept by Stella Trafford, a member of the Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee. It includes drafts of environmental impact reports, meeting minutes, correspondence, public relations material, and material generated by associated organizations.

Historical Sketch

The Park Plaza Development Project was proposed in the spring of 1970 as an urban renewal initiative at the intersection of the Beacon Hill, Back Bay, and Boston Common neighborhoods of Boston. The development was controversial because it proposed the demolition of low-income neighborhoods, including sections of the Combat Zone, Boston's infamous red light district. Boston Mayor Kevin White and city officials supported the project, but the public was generally against this initiative. The Park Plaza Project was never built, and the proposed site is now the State Transportation Building. This project was a precursor to the Park Plaza Urban Renewal Project, which began in 1977.

The Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee formed in 1971 and dissolved in 1976. It was created to filter both the government's push for the construction project and the opposing voices to the community development. This committee was comprised of members of prominent community organizations, including the League of Women Voters and Back Bay Federation for Community Development. Members included Daniel J. Ahern, Stella Trafford, and Christopher A. Iannella. The primary focus of this committee was to evaluate the public's reaction to this development project, including the creation of an environmental impact report.

Sources

Hogarty, Richard A. Massachusetts Politics and Public Policy: Studies in Power and Leadership. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2002.

Lostys, Francis Karl. "An Analysis of the Park Plaza Project." Boston University College of Liberal Arts Senior Dissertation. 25 April 1975. Accessed 25 February 2015. https://openlibrary.org/books/OL24149246M/An_analysis_of_the _park_plaza_project.

Collection Description

This collection consists of materials related to the Park Plaza Development Project in Boston from 1970 to 1977, primarily those of the Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee collected by committee member Stella Trafford. Types of documents include correspondence, meeting minutes, reports, press releases, and newspaper clippings. Most of the material was generated by the Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee, its subcommittees, and its subcontractors, including Justin Gray and Associates.

Correspondence contains letters and memos between participants in the Park Plaza Project. Correspondents include Daniel J. Ahern, Christopher A. Iannella, Stella Trafford, Mayor Kevin White, and State Representative Barney Frank. Meeting minutes document the meetings of the Civic Advisory Committee and its subcommittees. Legal documents included official agreements, contracts between the committee and its subcontractors, and other legal texts. The Reports series documents the steps taken to create the environmental impact statement about the Park Plaza Project site, including several government reports and research on subtopics like political activity in the area and efforts to curb prostitution in the Combat Zone. Also included are drafts and a final copy of the environmental impact report created by Justin Gray and Associates, as well as handwritten notes about the report. The Public Relations series provides promotional material about the Park Plaza Project, including newspaper clippings from the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Material in this series is written both in support of and in opposition to the Park Plaza Development Project. The Miscellaneous Civic Advisory Committee records series holds additional material generated by the committee, including cost lists and notes in shorthand. Records of Associated Organizations provides the records of organizations who worked with or against the Civic Advisory Committee, including the Back Bay Federation for Community Development, the Boston Society of Architects, the League of Women Voters, Saratoga Associates, and the political organization Thomas Paine.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Stella Trafford in 1978.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Correspondence, 1970-1975

Arranged chronologically.

Included in this series are letters and memos generated by members of the Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee and related individuals. Topics include meeting organization, brief explanations about the process of creating an environmental impact report, and discussion of countering opposing viewpoints to this project. Daniel J. Ahern, Stella Trafford, and Christopher A. Iannella are major correspondents, although other prominent figures such as Mayor Kevin White and State Representative Barney Frank also appear in this series.

Box 1
1970-1974
Box 2
1975-1976
Box 3Folders 1-10
1977

II. Meeting minutes, 1972-1977

Arranged chronologically.

This series holds agendas and meeting minutes documenting the meetings of the Civic Advisory Committee and its subcommittees. Discussion includes the logistics of creating an environmental impact report and reactions to the public's opinion about the Park Plaza Project.

Box 3Folders 11-37
1972-1975
Box 4Folders 1-9
1976-1977

III. Legal documents and committee resolutions, 1973-1977

Arranged chronologically.

This series includes contracts, committee resolutions, and writs issued regarding the Park Plaza Project. The majority of the material was created for or by the Civic Advisory Committee or its contractor Justin Gray and Associates.

Box 4Folders 10-19

IV. Reports, 1971-1976

Included in this series are documents generated by the Civic Advisory Committee and its contracted companies. The majority of these reports were created in preparation for writing an environmental impact report.

A. Work plan, 1973-1974

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries holds the proposed methodology used to implement stages of the Park Plaza Project. Several revisions of the work plan and alternative proposals are included.

Box 4Folders 20-24

B. Environmental impact reports, 1973-1976

Arranged chronologically within each record type.

This subseries contains documents that outline the effects on people and their environment during and after a construction project. Most of the reports in this series are drafts, but two complete reports were also created by the subcontractor Justin Gray and Associates. Comments on the drafts were generated by members of the Civic Advisory Committee. Chapter drafts and notes are at the end of this series.

Box 5Folders 1-19
Initial environmental impact report, 1973
Box 5Folders 20-43
Drafts, 1975
Box 6Folders 1-15
Drafts, 1976
Box 6 Folders 16-32
Drafts, n.d.
Box 6Folders 33-39
Final report, 1976
Box 7Folders 1-10
Chapter notes, 1975
Box 7Folders 11-15
Miscellaneous notes, 1975
Box 7Folders 16-20
Related material, 1975-1976

C. Related reports, 1971-1976

Arranged chronologically.

Reports include studies completed to create the Park Plaza Project's environmental impact report. They include progress reports on removing the adult entertainment industry from sections of the Combat Zone, socioeconomic and political surveys of residents in the neighborhood, government reports on the economic feasibility of the project, tests of air quality, and other aspects of the sites.

Box 7Folders 21-33
1971-Oct. 1974
Box 8Folders 1-18
Nov. 1974-Oct. 1976

V. Public relations records, 1970-1977

This series contains newspaper articles, brochures, and talking points about the Park Plaza Project. The material was generated by a variety of entities, but mostly the Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee, the Boston Globe, and the Boston Herald. While most of the material was generated in favor of the project, some of the newspaper clippings and letters to the editor vehemently opposed it.

A. Press releases, 1972-1974

Arranged chronologically.

Included are documents generated by individuals associated with the Park Plaza Project to be distributed to the media.

Box 8Folders 19-22

B. Talking points, 1974-1975

Arranged chronologically.

Included are talking points written for members of the Civic Advisory Committee.

Box 8Folder 23

C. Letters to the editor, 1972-1974

Arranged chronologically.

Letters to the editor were written by members of the Boston community and community organizations, both in support of and in opposition to the project. Topics include concerns about the economic feasibility of the development and criticism of the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald's coverage of Park Plaza.

Box 8Folders 24-25

D. Newsletters, 1975

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains newsletters generated by the Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee to update members of the committee about its activities. The content pertains to the creation of the environmental impact report and legal issues surrounding the Park Plaza Project. The newsletters were created by Daniel J. Ahern.

Box 8Folder 26

D. Printed material, 1971-1977

Arranged chronologically.

Printed material consists of a pamphlet, a brochure, and newspaper clippings about the Park Plaza Project. The pamphlet and the brochure were generated by the Boston Development Authority to educate the public about the development. The newspaper clippings were published by the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. Topics range from the political stalemate in the early stages of the Park Plaza Project to the progress of the Civic Advisory Committee.

Box 9Folders 1-23

VI. Miscellaneous Civic Advisory Committee records, 1973-1974

Arranged chronologically.

Included in this series is various material created by the Civic Advisory Committee, including notes, resumes, and cost lists. Some of this material is in shorthand.

Box 9Folders 24-25

VII. Records of associated organizations, 1972-1974

Arranged alphabetically by name of organization.

This series consists of material generated by organizations involved with the Park Plaza Project. Organizations include the Boston Society of Architects, David A. Crane and Partners, Golder Associates, the League of Women Voters, Saratoga Associates, Thomas Paine, Back Bay Federation for Community Development, Boston 73, and Larry diCara. Types of material include organization summaries, press releases, and printed material. Several of the organizations, namely David A. Crane and Partners, Golder Associates, and Saratoga Associates, were vying to construct and design Park Plaza. Organizations in opposition to the project included the Minority Report, the League of Women Voters, and a civic group writing under the name "Thomas Paine."

Box 9Folders 26-37

Preferred Citation

Park Plaza Development Project records, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Ahern, Daniel J.
Frank, Barney, b. 1940.
Iannella, Christopher A.
Trafford, Stella, d. 1978.
White, Kevin H.

Organizations:

Back Bay Federation for Community Development (Boston, Mass.).
Boston Society of Architects.
Justin Gray and Associates (Boston, Mass.).
League of Women Voters of Massachusetts.
Park Plaza Development Project (Boston, Mass.) Park Plaza Civic Advisory Committee.

Subjects:

City planning--Massachusetts--Boston.
Combat Zone (Boston, Mass.).
Construction projects--Massachusetts--Boston.
Environmental policy--Massachusetts--Boston.
Park Plaza (Boston, Mass.).
Political activism--Massachusetts-Boston.
Urban renewal--Massachusetts--Boston.