You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe

Editorials

editorial

Joe Curtatone: Hizonner the hipster

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.

Pat Greenhouse/globe staff/file 2003

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone.

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone, 47, is a lifelong Somerville native from an old Somerville family, a strongly accented symbol of the old guard. So to hear him declare, “I wish I were a hipster” — as he did at an event this month in Union Square — is a sign that old and new can more-than-peacefully coexist. Hipsterness is more a frame of mind than an age range, to be sure, but Somerville has special claims to the group, with its densely packed housing stock, its embrace of urban agriculture, and the second-highest proportion of 25-to-34-year-olds in the country, behind only Hoboken, N.J.

The hipster influx in Somerville is nothing new, nor is the tension between old and new residents in any neighborhood. Gentrification often brings legitimate concerns, such as rising housing costs that could eventually drive young residents elsewhere. (Cambridge’s hipster loss, in recent decades, was Somerville’s gain). But some of the reforms that have made Somerville attractive to twentysomethings are good for residents of any demographic: accessible public transit, a business climate that encourages new restaurants and stores, a civic culture that welcomes festivals and public gatherings.

Curtatone came of age politically at a time when it was popular for old Somerville families to disdain the “barneys” coming over the Cambridge line. But, as mayor, he’s laid out the welcome mat. Curtatone is famous for sending residents a “happiness survey,” which has yielded insight into everything from street festivals to recycling programs. Old community values and new hipsters, it turns out, can make for a happy mix.

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week