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Burning Greed

Posted by Jim Botticelli  August 15, 2013 12:12 PM

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Fenway in Flames

Alarms sound in the early morning. Sirens wail on Symphony Road. It’s happening again. The neighborhood is burning nightly and there’s nothing you can do but wait in fear. That is exactly what happened during the 1970s as Boston residents were under siege. Real estate businessmen were making money by burning apartment buildings to the ground, leaving the poor, elderly, and minority tenants homeless and several dead. The tenants’ cries for arson investigations were dismissed. Arson was hard to prosecute and arson for profit was business ­as ­usual across the nation. A brave group of community activists refused to be silent victims. Their hard work revealed a shocking pattern in the fires and it was enough to convince the state to prosecute and eventually convict 32 men in a conspiracy bigger than anyone suspected. The story will soon be available for public viewing in the new documentary Burning Greed.

During the mid 70's, nearly every building on the one block long Symphony Road burned in just a four year period. Located in the shadows of Symphony Hall in the Fenway neighborhood, the street was the scene of a conspiracy that took the lives of local tenants including a four year old boy. As with so many crimes, money was the motive. At the time arson was hard to convict and rarely prosecuted, making it a lucrative and low risk crime.

Tenants in the Fenway had worked hard to build their neighborhood into their home. It wasn't just people living in close proximity. It was a community. When arson for profit targeted Symphony Road, the tenants refused to sit by and become victims of the violence threatening their homes and lives. Despite being told repeatedly that they themselves were the problem and the source of the fires, the tenants were able to prove they were, in fact, victims of a large arson conspiracy.

Learn about the deep corruption and conspiracy of 1970's Dirty Old Boston at its dirtiest. Learn about the community organizing that showed the people of the Fenway were the wrong ones to mess with in the doc called Burning Greed. We have had the opportunity to view a segment and found it as compelling as Nova and Frontline.

The film is currently in post production and needs your help. The producers at Live Lobster Group in the Fenway are seeking any photos or film of the Fenway and Symphony Road area, particularly from the 70's and early 80's. Information and material can be emailed along with any questions to

Be sure to 'like' us on Facebook as Dirty Old Boston

Union Park Press is currently seeking personal photos of all kinds taken between 1945-87 for our upcoming coffee table book Dirty Old Boston. Visit for easy details

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Jim Botticelli, a 1976 Northeastern University graduate, is a retired Boston Public Schools teacher. In college, he drove a cab and learned the city's cow paths. An avid collector of More »

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