The Pine Street Tour, the first of the three guides to be released, focuses on African-American history and heritage in Cambridge. Local historians and residents with connections to the featured sites and significant events narrate each stop.
For instance, Dion Banks talks about Long Wharf, providing historical background. Then he shares how he has traced his family history and that his ancestors were unloaded from slave ships at this spot. His poignant reflection includes how he tries to see the landscape through their eyes and their perspective.
The tour proceeds up historic High Street with a story from the last known surviving African-American skipjack captain and stops at a house along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway and the Dorchester County Courthouse. As visitors continue to Pine Street, narrators share firsthand memories of the neighborhood’s heyday, when the area had so much energy it was nicknamed “Little New York.”
As part of the Chitlin’ Circuit, entertainment venues in this area hosted some of the greatest names in music during the ’20s, ’30s, ’40s, ’50s and early ’60s. In this segment of the tour, Greg Meekins notes that the historical nature of blues and jazz still resonate on Pine Street. But he also pauses to describe how vividly he remembers the night in 1967 when a devastating fire on Pine Street consumed the majority of the neighborhood’s black businesses.
As travelers walk in the footsteps of Gloria Richardson, they will hear compelling descriptions of the turbulent 1960s when Pine Street thrust Cambridge before a worldwide audience, and it emerged as one of the most important battlegrounds in the Civil Rights movement. And they will hear the reminiscences of long-time residents who attended the segregated school on Pine Street and who helped make the renowned pies and “beaten biscuits” that were the specialty of the neighborhood bakery.
The Pine Street Tour includes 11 stops. Additional tours, focusing on Downtown Cambridge and the Chesapeake Mural Trail, will be released in May and June. They also will be available on the same Visit Dorchester app.
Download the free Visit Dorchester app from the Google Play Store for android devices or from the App Store for iPhones and iPads.