Mission Hill has been surrounded by hospitals and colleges for years, but it’s a relatively new phenomenon that the people working and studying in those institutions have decided it’s a good place to live. Who can blame them? The location, not far from downtown, is great. Fenway Park and Kenmore Square are a bit more than a mile away. The Museum of Fine Arts? Even closer.
But you don’t have to leave “The Hill,’’ as locals call it, to partake of city life. The commercial area around Brigham Circle, at the intersection of Huntington Avenue and Tremont Street, is bustling with restaurants, bars, and markets.
Longtime residents have seen the area through at least two previous incarnations, from a predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood that revolved around the impressive Mission Church, to the downturn of the ’70s and ’80s, when many families moved to West Roxbury or the ’burbs. In its heyday, the church property had a high school and grammar school, two convents, a rectory, and the beautiful St. Alphonsus Hall. Only the church, rectory, and grammar school are operating today on the 3.73-acre complex.
The roughly 0.75-square-mile neighborhood is bordered by Jamaica Plain, Brookline, and Roxbury, of which Mission Hill, now a distinct neighborhood, was originally part.
Over the past 11 years, the number of owner-occupied homes in Mission Hill has declined more than anywhere else in the city, from 52 percent in 2003 to 42 percent this year. The change in the neighborhood has meant fewer families with young children — a far cry from the days when nearly all of the two- and three-family homes were occupied by families with four kids when that was considered small — and fewer elderly residents.
But the influx of students and young professionals has meant more foot traffic, especially at night, and that, say residents, has helped make it safer.
The average rent for 22 apartments currently listed on the Multiple Listing Service. Fourteen of those apartments have four or more bedrooms. The rents range from a low of $2,495 a month to a high of $5,250. All have been available for less than a month.
Number of people employed in the Longwood Medical Area. That’s the largest concentration of jobs in Boston outside the downtown business district. An estimated 52,000 people work or study in the area every day.
Number of members on the “I Grew Up on Mission Hill’’ Facebook page. Even people who left the neighborhood years ago retain strong ties to the area, and Mission Hill-Jamaica Plain reunions are frequent.
The year that Pope Pius XII declared Mission Church a “minor basilica,’’ a designation bestowed on churches with a large number of parishioners, exceptional architectural merit, and significance as a center of worship. There are dozens in the United States. The majors are in Rome.
Diverse — ethnically and economically
The vibrant neighborhood is 48 percent white, 19 percent African-American, 16 percent Latino, 14 percent Asian, and 2 percent other. The housing stock includes many two- and three-deckers, some brick row houses, the mixed-income Mission Park development, the Mission Main public housing development, and a few high-rises.
On the hill itself, where most students live, other residents can feel like they’re living in a dorm, with late-night parties.
Sense of community despite change
There are community gardens, an annual road race, a small local newspaper, abundant meetings on development and security, as well as a plethora of groups: Mission Hill Main Streets, Mission Hill Artists Collective, Sociedad Latina, and Roxbury Tenants of Harvard.
Hop on the Green Line to go downtown or amble over to Roxbury Crossing Station to catch the Orange Line. The Allston-Dudley bus line runs through the neighborhood. The streets have bike lanes, and there are automated rentals available.
Though much of the parking is by resident permit only, with many homes having multiple apartments but only one or two parking spots out front, spaces can be hard to find.
Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to Address@globe.com.