What is it like to live in Fenway/Kenmore?

Location, Location, Location Boston Fenway-Kenmore
Kristi Stauffer waters the plants in her plot in Fenway Victory Gardens.
Kristi Stauffer waters the plants in her plot in Fenway Victory Gardens. Keith Bedford/Globe staff

Sometimes Joanne McKenna looks out her window at the Berklee College of Music students on the street and wonders, Which one of these kids will be getting a Grammy in a couple of years? At times like this, she appreciates the vibrancy the area’s college students bring to her neighborhood. And then there are the days when she looks out and notices the litter and the noise.

“They’re not necessarily paying attention to how the neighborhood looks as a result of their presence,’’ McKenna said.

In the 21 years since she’s lived on Massachusetts Avenue, the neighborhood has changed dramatically, in no small part due to the impact of colleges: Berklee, Northeastern University, Massachusetts College of Art, Simmons College, Wheelock College, Emmanuel College, New England Conservatory, Wentworth Institute of Technology, Boston University — and more.

Now that school is out, “the neighborhood feels so normal,’’ said resident Rosaria Salerno, a justice of the peace and former city clerk and city councilor.

Salerno and McKenna, who works in affordable housing, live in the same building, a beautiful former residential hotel that is a limited-equity housing cooperative, ensuring it will remain affordable — a big issue in a neighborhood where, of 11 condos on the market last week, the average price was $1.49 million.

McKenna and her husband, who raised two sons here, chose the neighborhood in part “because it has such an active civic life. There are all kinds of neighborhood-based organizations.’’

Salerno, who has lived or worked in the area since 1970, says change and institutional expansion used to be slower and on a different scale.

“Now we’re being inundated with skyscrapers,’’ Salerno said. “The Fenway has always been for the many, but soon it’s going to be for the very few. We no longer speak about housing; we speak about luxury housing.’’

But both women embrace some of the change.

“It’s unbelievable how many great restaurants have opened in the neighborhood,’’ McKenna said.

And new residents are getting involved.

“That’s what makes the Fenway really my home, is that sense of responsibility to the neighborhood,’’ McKenna said. “We’re really lucky to live in the co-op, and we want to be part of the movement to keep the Fenway a place not just for students, but for people who want to make it their home.’’

The neighborhood’s famous Citgo sign. —Keith Bedford/Globe staff



The number of square miles occupied by this neighborhood teeming with restaurants, universities, hospitals, and cultural institutions


Roughly the number of LED lights it takes to illuminate the iconic Citgo sign in Kenmore Square


The year the keeper of the Citgo sign — Marty Foley of Foley Electric — first climbed up there to perform maintenance; he’s been doing it ever since.


The year President Franklin Roosevelt established Fenway Victory Gardens, and more than 20 million others like it across the country, to grow produce during WWII. This is the only one that has operated continually, however.


The percentage of Fenway-Kenmore residents enrolled in school, according to the Boston Planning and Development Agency



Emerald Necklace

Several of the green gems are here: The Riverway, The Fenway, and the Back Bay Fens with the Kelleher Rose Garden, Victory Gardens, and a visitor center and bridge designed by H.H. Richardson.

 Pro & Con

Fenway Park

The ballpark is a mixed bag. It adds to the area’s vitality, but its impact is expanding with concerts and winter activities.


So much culture

The Museum of Fine Arts; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Symphony Hall; New England Conservatory and Jordan Hall; the headquarters of the First Church of Christ, Scientist; Wheelock Family Theatre; Fenway Studios; Huntington Theatre; and more.

 Vanessa Parks is a writer in Central Massachusetts. Send comments to [email protected].  Subscribe to our newsletter at