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Boston Little Saigon wins cultural district designation

A bakery, restaurant, and a medical center are lined up on Dorchester Avenue in Fields Corner.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

A section of Fields Corner in Dorchester will now be known as Boston Little Saigon following a unanimous vote Tuesday by the Mass Cultural Council, approving the designation for the area known for its vibrant Vietnamese community.

The vote marks the final step in officially designating the area as a cultural district, a goal since March 2014, when the idea was first brought up by community members.

“We are excited about the official cultural district designation,” Annie Le, board president of Boston Little Saigon, said in a statement issued from the mayor’s office. “We hope to bring more awareness of Vietnamese arts and culture that our older generation has instilled in us and captivate new ideas from the younger generation. We look forward to working with everyone to create more arts and business supports in the Fields Corner area.”


Boston Little Saigon joins the city’s three other cultural districts, Boston’s Latin Quarter, the Fenway Cultural District and the Roxbury Cultural District, according to the state council’s website.

The Vietnamese community has made its mark on Fields Corner going back decades to when many first arrived in the neighborhood as refugees in the 1980s. The community’s growth and strength can be seen in the numerous Vietnamese restaurants, shops, and other businesses that have made the area their home.

The official designation comes due to the effort of the nonprofit Networking Organization of Vietnamese Americans with the support of the City Council, which passed a resolution in December 2019 in favor of the designation.

“This area of Dorchester has long been a hub for Vietnamese American culture and community, and it’s great to see the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood recognized in this way,” Acting Mayor Kim Janey said in a statement. “I look forward to seeing the cultural district inspire residents and visitors to support local businesses, try new restaurants, and participate in arts and cultural events happening in the neighborhood.”


The city also announced the district has been approved for a $75,000 Our Town grant through the National Endowment for the Arts. The grant is designed to support “projects that integrate arts, culture and design activities into efforts that strengthen communities,” the mayor’s office said.

The city said the goals of the district are to establish the area as a tourist destination while “instilling a sense of pride and ownership in the community, attracting new businesses to the area, and reinventing a point of attraction for Vietnamese American events, programs, and organizations.”

“Cultural districts help all of us celebrate the diversity of our city, and we’re excited to take this step to recognize the major contributions that Vietnamese Americans continue to make to Boston,” said Kara Elliott-Ortega, chief of arts and culture for the city.

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.