According to the New York Times’ Sunday piece on the St. Mary’s neighborhood, the Gallery at Black Rock should really be called the Gallery at St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea. The country’s newspaper of record just expanded St. Mary’s boundaries up to Brewster Street, encompassing half the business district.
This means that the only part of Black Rock that’s not St. Mary’s is from Brewster to Ellsworth. Unless, of course, the Times decides that Black Rock really stretches to maybe the Pequonnock River. In 2004, the Times said St. Mary’s referred to the tip of the neighborhood’s peninsula. How things change.
Last time the Times came to the neighborhood, the writer left the impression that the Chimneys, on Grovers Hill, was a blot on the neighborhood that everyone wanted torn down. But they never talked to anyone on Grovers Hill, which is yet another part of St. Mary’s, or of Black Rock, depending on which map or newspaper you go by.
But they got one thing right. The subject of neighborhood boundaries is a matter of debate. There are no zip codes, rivers or highways that indicate where Black Rock, or the St. Mary’s neighborhood that exists within Black Rock, begin and end. A city sign that welcomes visitors to St. Mary’s is on the approach to Harborview Avenue. Others put St. Mary’s around Balmforth. Others, afraid of seeming to be racist or elitist, are too embarrassed to use either term.
Ask me where I’m from and I alternate between saying “Black Rock” and “Bridgeport.” I find Black Rock to be descriptive, not elitist, because it’s such a distinct area. But I never say I’m from St. Mary’s-by-the-Sea because it sounds like the name of a nursing home.