Jamaica Plain is a historic neighborhood 4.4 square miles in Boston, Massachusetts. Founded by Boston Puritans seeking farm land to the south, it was originally part of the town of Roxbury. The community seceded from Roxbury as a part of the new town of West Roxbury in 1851, and became part of Boston when West Roxbury was annexed to Boston in 1874. The oldest community theatre in the US, Footlight Club is located in this neighborhood. In the 19th century, Jamaica Plain became one of the first streetcar suburbs in America and home to a significant portion of Boston's Emerald Necklace of parks, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. According to the 2010 Census, it had a population of 37,468. Jamaica Plain has a rich and diverse history of neighborhood activism. In the early 1970s, the city of Boston planned to extend I-95 from Canton north into downtown Boston. This threatened to bring I-95 straight through the center of Jamaica Plain, essentially dividing the community in half if executed. Many protests along with support from residents of Jamaica Plain, Roxbury and Hyde Park, rallied to stop the construction of the highway. The most notable act of support came from a community festival that mustered residents from surrounding neighborhoods in opposition to the highway. The festival, first held in 1979, has continued to grow every year, and is now known as the Wake Up The Earth festival, held every first Saturday in the month of May and organized by Community Cultural center, Spontaneous Celebrations. The project had already demolished many houses and commercial buildings in the highway's path before then-Governor Francis W. Sargent ordered to stop the interstate project. It was not until the 1980s that the Southwest Corridor was built, creating a parkway, bike path, and site for future Wake Up The Earth festivals in lieu of the highway, now situated atop the underground Orange subway Line.
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