As the city councilor for Jamaica Plain and a proud resident, I consider myself one of the community’s biggest fans and most enthusiastic boosters. There is so much to love about JP. As an avid runner, one of my favorite workouts is a run through my neighborhood.
If you joined me on a run through JP, we would begin at my home on the Jamaicaway. We would soon pass the House with the Shamrock Shutters, number 350, the home of the legendary Boston Mayor James Michael Curley, one of our city’s most colorful political figures. We would soon cross over to beautiful Jamaica Pond for a one-and-a-half-mile lap around the crown jewel in Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace. We would continue a short distance to the 281-acre Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, and continue on through historic Forest Hills, a thriving MBTA hub and home to a mix of longtime residents and newcomers.
(We would head down Washington Street, but if we decided to go straight we would run into the vibrant Centre/South Main Streets District with its eclectic mix of small businesses, galleries and pop-up spaces. We’d point out the soon-to-be-renovated Jamaica Plain Library and the bustling Curtis Hall Community Center).
If we make our way down Washington Street with Doyle’s Café on the right, a popular destination for residents and politicians, and English High School on the left, one of the oldest public high schools in America, we would find ourselves in Egleston Square. We’d pass the District E-13 Police Station, where some of Boston’s finest officers hold regular community meetings with residents to discuss public safety issues. We would also be close to the Egleston YMCA, which offers a variety of programs for individuals and families.
We might take a left and make out way through the side streets to Amory Street, home of the 19th century Haffenreffer Brewery, and today home to dozens of small businesses, including favorite neighborhood spots like Bella Luna Restaurant and Milky Way Lounge, and Ula Café.
We would continue on and head toward Jackson Square, an emerging business district with a new mix of retail space and affordable and market-rate housing. We’d turn back on to Centre Street and run through Hyde Square, where we would make our way through another thriving business district that includes bodegas, a tattoo parlor, an Irish pub and many other small businesses.
We would end our run at one of JP’s many restaurants for a drink and something to eat. The neighborhood has a unique mix of eateries and an option to please any palate. We could go to Canary Square, Sanctuary, El Oriental de Cuba, JP Seafood or James’s Gate—there are too many to name. For dessert, there’s ice cream and pastries at thriving local businesses like J.P. Licks, Fiore’s, City Feed or Blue Frog Bakery.
We would end our run near Daisy Field, home turf of JP Little League; one of the neighborhood’s most robust youth sports programs. I would also point out that there is a water filling station nearby. I would explain that I worked with the City to have it installed, and I have been pushing for the installation of other similar stations citywide.
Before parting ways, we’d talk about the different people, architecture and businesses we saw. We’d probably note the number of languages we heard spoken, chat about the detailed turn-of-the-century homes and the modern developments, and agree that JP is one of Boston’s most diverse, welcoming and active neighborhoods.
As we said goodbye, exhausted, we would plan a shorter route next time. And, of course, we would make plans for brunch at Sorella’s.
Matt O’Malley is the Boston City Councilor for District 6, which includes most of JP and West Roxbury and parts of Roslindale, Roxbury and Mission Hill. He lives in Jamaica Plain.