Kevin White, who served as Mayor of Boston for four terms from 1968 to 1984, died at his Boston home this past Friday, January 27th.
After leaving office, he was quoted saying, “I left the city a little better than I found it.” Truly, this was a spectacular understatement. The mayor stepped into office with big dreams, big plans, and the belief that Boston could become a great, world class city.
Kevin White built upon the renewals started by the previous two mayors, John B. Hynes and John Collins. But it was the revitalization of the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace in 1976 that became the “tipping point” for the downtown’s and waterfront’s emergence as vibrant, mixed-use centers of activity.
Looking at the Marketplace today, it is hard to envision what it looked like before its redevelopment – rat infested, crumbling structures; with the highest and best use for two of the buildings being a flea market open on Sundays. When the project went looking for financing, all of the Boston banks showed their pessimism by refusing to participate at any amount. It took the active role of Mayor White to help secure the financing in New York City (although, only under the condition that the redevelopment be phased to limit the risk.)
During his time in office, new developments sprung up, including towers in the financial district, a redeveloped waterfront, the massive Copley Place retail, office, and hotel complex, and the transformation of the Charlestown Navy Yard.
The Mayor attracted some of the brightest in Boston to be a part of his team to help create this transformation including, Barney Frank, Peter Meade, Lowell Richards, Fred Salvucci, Paul Grogan, Robert Kiley, and Micho Spring.
I will always remember walking through the Boston Garden one evening and running into the Mayor and his wife, Kathryn. It was not difficult to see his love for his wife and his pride in his city. Mayor Kevin White will never be forgotten – his presence will always be with us, as we look upon our world class city.