Thomas O'Neill was a member of the Massachusetts Legislature from 1936-1952 and a friend of JFK.

The Irish in Boston

Boston politics have changed completely. In the old days you had leadership and if you lived in East Boston or if you lived in Charlestown, or if you lived in North Cambridge where I lived, your life centered around one or two things. It centered around the Democratic party or it centered around the Catholic Church. Those were the two organizations where... they would run festivals, they would run social affairs. Your whole social life was around them, because in those days, radio was all you had. You went to the theatre for the most part, that is the motion picture theatre. Very,very few people had automobiles, you lived actually in your neighborhood. The neighborhoods, we would have to say they were a word we don't like to use, but they were really ghettos. The Irish came into Boston and you would settle in an area where an Irishman before you lived, because when you came from Ireland, you wanted to be near somebody that you knew, somebody who could help you get a job, somebody who had some care for you. The Irish as they would make it into the economic world would move out into the towns around greater Boston; for example, the Kennedys came to East Boston. And their father was a leader there, the original Kennedy, was a leader there. But as the Irish began to get more prosperous, they would move out of East Boston and into Winthrop or Revere or some other area. And the Italians came in. And that has been the history of the city, as matter of fact, as one race would grow economically, it would move out. And out into the outer rim, now out probably 25, 35 miles outside of the city of Boston.

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