Understanding Jamaica Plain Today: Overview + Resources

Understanding Jamaica Plain Today: Overview + Resources

by Rudy Mitchell, Senior Researcher

Affectionately known as "JP", Jamaica Plain's reputation includes diversity, friendly community, unique businesses, socially-conscious activity, increasing gentrification, and natural beauty.

JP is in a period of rapid growth. Hundreds of new residential units are recently completed or underway. The JP/Rox Plan for the Washington Street and Columbus Avenue areas is likely to bring additional changes in the coming years. While Jamaica Plain continues to transition into the future, its beautiful green spaces will keep it true to its nickname as the “Eden of America.”

 Copper European Beech Tree at Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plain, MA. Photo licensed for public use.

Copper European Beech Tree at Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plain, MA. Photo licensed for public use.

 

JP AT A GLANCE

Residents by Race

Total Population - 39,240. Data from Boston By the Numbers, 2017.

Residents By Age

Data from Boston Planning and Development Agency, "Boston in Context: Neighborhoods, American Community Survey - 2011-2015." Boston: B.P.D.A., January, 2017

Educated   More than 63% of Jamaica Plain residents 25 years or older have obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher. This is much higher than the percentage for the U.S. (30%) or Boston (45%).

Increasingly Young   The proportion of 25-34 year olds in Jamaica Plain has risen from 23% in 2000 to 27% in 2015. The percentage of young adults aged 20 to 34 in Jamaica Plain is exactly the same as in Boston - 34.7%  (a very high proportion).  The median age of Jamaica Plain residents is 33 years compared to 39 years for Massachusetts.

Family Friendly   Jamaica Plain had 6,719 children under the age of 18 years (6th highest number of children out of 22 Boston neighborhoods).

Jamaica Plain has been a wonderful neighborhood for our family. JP is rich in diversity, full of green space, and yet densely urban and teeming with energy. It’s a neighborhood that cares a lot about the world and about building stronger community.
— Pastor Brice Williams
 Rev. Brice Williams spent two years researching JP as a church planter. He lives in JP with his family and is the new pastor of the South End Neighborhood Church.

Rev. Brice Williams spent two years researching JP as a church planter. He lives in JP with his family and is the new pastor of the South End Neighborhood Church.

Language Diversity  8,611 Jamaica Plain residents speak Spanish at home (23.4% of the population); 765 residents speak Chinese at home; 586 speak French or Haitian Creole; 382 speak Portuguese or Cape Verdean Creole. About 23% of the population – 8,879 residents – are foreign born.

Income Inequality  The poverty rate in Jamaica Plain is 18.3% with 7,039 people living below the poverty line. However, the median household income is a relatively high $76,968, which indicates significant income inequality between a large number of low income residents and many high income residents. Almost 63% of the neighborhood’s employed adults have occupations in management, business, science, and the arts.

With all of its beauty, JP is also a neighborhood burdened with gentrification, miscommunication, and fragmentation. Be a cultural anthropologist. Be a community member before a Christian leader. Listen well and learn from men and women who have lived and built the story of JP as we see it today, no matter their religious background or bent. 
— Pastor Brice Williams

Bike-Friendly  Although most residents commute to work by car or subway, 1,318 people commute by bicycle, and 1,292 walk to work.

 

Natural Beauty

 Jamaica Pond, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Jamaica Pond, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Jamaica Pond

One of the attractions of this neighborhood has always been Jamaica Pond, which is surrounded by a biking/walking trail. Beginning in the early years of the neighborhood’s history, residents built homes and summer estates which overlook the pond to this day. 

In the past, ice skating was a popular recreation at the pond, while boating, fishing and jogging or walking continue to be enjoyed by many. In the late nineteenth century, the pond became a part of the Emerald Necklace designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. One popular activity today is the annual Lantern Festival.

 Lantern Festival, Jamaica Pond, Jamaica Plain, MA.

Lantern Festival, Jamaica Pond, Jamaica Plain, MA.

 Small pond within Arnold Arboretum. Photo by Daderot, English language  Wikipedia .

Small pond within Arnold Arboretum. Photo by Daderot, English language Wikipedia.

Arnold Arboretum

Founded in 1872, the arboretum has one of the largest and best documented collections of woody plants in the world. More than 15,000 plants from some 4,000 species grow here. Among these are about 400 lilac bushes of 179 types featured every spring on Lilac Sunday. The arboretum’s 281 acres are managed by Harvard University and have been designated a national historic landmark. The residents of Jamaica Plain as well as Boston enjoy the unique beauty of the arboretum in all seasons. 

 

 

 

Recommended Resources

Plan JP/Rox – Boston Planning and Development Agency

The PLAN: JP/ROX document provides recommendations and strategies around affordable housing, jobs and businesses, guidelines for urban design, and suggestions for improvements to transportation, connections, open space, sustainability, and the public realm in Jamaica Plain. 

Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Council

The Jamaica Plain Gazette 

Getting to Know Your Neighborhood: Jamaica Plain