For decades, West Roxbury had the reputation of being a kind of middle-class step-up from lower-class Southie. The area has always had a high proportion of cops, firefighters and other public service officers. Somewhat cut off from the rest of Boston without a T connection, West Roxbury has long had a provincial attitude — and at least to some, perhaps an exclusionary tendency as well. Largely Irish-Catholic, many South Boston residents made the move up to the single family homes of "Westie," and sometimes brought their prejudices with them.
Today West Roxbury seems to be in transition. Centre Street reflects the transfomation of the neighborhood, as the main drag has a far more diverse feel than it did two or three decades ago. While Deno's Subs, Anna's Coffee, Parkway Printing and other longtime establishments remain, the street has been dotted in the past ten years with new cuisines and establishments once hard-to-find in old Westie. In this photo, Thai Spice and Amigos Mexican Food display the new cosmopolitan feel.
Gentrification has also occured on some level in West Roxbury as well, although that process has taken place in fits and starts. Starbucks has arrived and three Centre Street used bookstores lend the neighborhood an increasingly hipster feel. A sparkling new Roche Bros. is decidely 21st Century while a bright new CVS has taken the ground formerly occupied by the old version of Roche Bros. (Were supermarkets really ever that small?) But many Joe six pack establishments remain such as Family Dollar, as well as two prominent long-time liquor stores: Macy's and Blanchard's. Ads for low-priced cigarettes seem to be everywhere, along with the discount stores that perhaps lend the street the undesirable --- and increasingly unfair nickname --- the Golden Ghetto.
Whether these trends continue or the street heads in a new direction is anybody's guess.