What is now Boston Harbor was long a regional trading hub for Native Americans before Europeans settled Boston in 1630. It became a center of international trade (see: Boston Tea Party) between the mid-1700s and mid-1800s when other ports such as New York began to dominate. The Port of Boston and Boston Harbor declined for over a century until the 1980s and 1990s brought the Boston Harbor Cleanup, Central Artery Project and creation of what is now the Raymond Flynn Marine Park in South Boston. Today the Port of Boston, managed by the Massachusetts Port Authority, focuses on Conley Terminal (container shipping), Cruiseport Boston (cruise ships), Boston Autoport (automobile imports) and seafood processing.
Boston’s working port areas are currently regulatorily protected by the State as “Designated Port Areas” with activities restricted to water-dependent industrial uses. With Boston undergoing an historic waterfront development boom, these areas are under tremendous pressure to be converted to commercial and real estate development.
Boston Harbor Now is engaging with public and private working port stakeholders to understand and promote the necessary resources and attributes for a 21st Century innovative maritime economy that takes advantage of Boston’s competitive advantage. Through this research, we hope to increase the viability and climate resilience of Boston’s working port as a key component of Boston’s waterfront.