Otis House

Religious and Cultural Diversity


By 1790, the West End and the steep North Slope, initially settled by free Blacks in the 1760s, was becoming a thriving African American community. Residents sought to strengthen the community by building the African Meeting House on Joy Street.

By the mid-nineteenth century, Pinckney Street became the dividing line between the north and south slopes of the Hill. The North Slope neighborhood was penetrated by pedestrian alleys where lived a culturally diverse and racially mixed working class, many of them employed by the elite families living on the South Slope.

Epidemics, famine, and economic conditions in the Old World fueled the influx of new immigrants in the 1870s and 1880s and continued to transform Beacon Hill’s ethnic diversity. During this time, a large number of European Jews, as well as immigrants from Ireland, Italy, Greece, Syria, Latvia, and Jamaica fled to the United States and settled in this area of Boston.