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The boundaries of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood are not clearly defined, but in broader terms they may be described as running up Geneva Avenue from Charles Street to Columbia Road, up Columbia Road to Hancock Street, down Hancock Street to Dorchester Avenue, and following Dorchester Avenue to Charles Street and back along it to Geneva Avenue. Some of this area might also be considered to be in the Uphams Corner neighborhood.
The city of Boston has defined several sub-neighborhoods or Neighborhood Statistical Areas of Dorchester. The three areas related to the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood are (1) Bowdoin North/Mount Bowdoin, Area 12; (2) Fields Corner West, Area 16; and (3) Meeting House Hill, Area 17. Together these form a somewhat larger area bordered on the west by Washington Street, then by the commuter railroad tracks and Columbia Road up to Quincy Street. The boundary then follows Quincy Street to East Street and thus to Dorchester Avenue and includes a small section east of Dorchester Avenue bounded by Freeport and Greenwich streets. Then it follows Dorchester Avenue south to Melville Avenue and back over to Washington Street.
The heart of the neighborhood includes the three census tracts 916, 917 and 918. For convenience, these will be used to present most of the statistics about the neighborhood. The combined area of these census tracts is bordered by Geneva Avenue from Westville Street to the commuter railroad tracks and follows those to Columbia Road and up Columbia Road to Quincy Street down to Church Street and from there to Dorchester Avenue (census tract 916 includes the little section east of Dorchester Avenue bounded by Freeport and Greenwich streets). The eastern boundary follows Dorchester Avenue then up Adams Street to Robinson Street and thus back to the vicinity of Westville Street.
Poverty rates in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood are higher than in the state and in the nation but similar to poverty rates in the City of Boston overall. In the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood, approximately 20 percent of the population lives below the federal poverty level, compared to 12 percent nationally and nine percent statewide. A higher percentage of youth live below the poverty level. In the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood approximately 24 percent of youth under the age of 18 and 26 percent of the youth ages 12-17 live below the poverty level. Poverty levels for youth are slightly higher in census tract 918 where over 30 percent of youth live below the poverty level.
While the majority of children in Bowdoin-Geneva live with at least one parent, only 34 percent live with their parent(s) in a married couple family.22 Approximately 46 percent of children live with their mothers with no husband present and five percent live with their fathers with no wife present. The proportion of children living with their mothers with no husband present in Bowdoin-Geneva is higher than that proportion nationally, statewide and in the City of Boston overall.
The adult population of the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood is less likely to hold formal educational degrees than the adult populations in the City of Boston overall, in Massachusetts and across the nation. While 85% of the adult population in Massachusetts has a high school degree, only 58% of adults in Bowdoin-Geneva have graduated from high school. And while 15% of the adults in the City of Boston hold a Master’s degree or higher, only 4% of the adults in Bowdoin-Geneva do so. Out of the three Bowdoin-Geneva census tracts, adults living in census tract 918 seem to have the most formal education (64% have high school degrees and 12% have Bachelor’s degrees).
Households in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood are more likely to be linguistically isolated than households across Massachusetts and the nation. Linguistic isolation means that no person age 14 and over speaks only English and no person age 14 and over who speaks a language other than English speaks English “very well.”17 Approximately 12 percent of households in the Bowdoin-Geneva neighborhood are linguistically isolated compared to four percent nationally and five percent statewide. Of the 370 linguistically isolated households in Bowdoin-Geneva, 27 percent speak Spanish, 20 percent speak Asian and Pacific Island languages, and 53 percent speak other Indo-European languages.