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By Roger Chartier


Local New Bedford, Ma. History
1970 - 1979
In Chronological Order
Follow the timeline through the years

1970's Frates Bottle - New Bedford, Ma -

Frates Bottle Restaurant was a favorite for an ice cream in the summer
Placed on the National Historic Register:
The U.S. Customhouse is a National Historic Landmark in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Architect Robert Mills built the custom house in 1834
New Bedford military men who died in the Viet Nam War.
Pfc. Manuel A.D. Tavares, 21, of New Bedford, killed Jan. 9, 1970.
Seaman Wayne W. Mullin, 19, of New Bedford, killed Aug. 20, 1970.

1970 July
Race Riots broke out in the West End, a section of Kempton Street and a few blocks surrounded a neighborhood was barricaded with burned out over turned cars and refrigerators, barrels and lumber etc.. 
On July 9 three African American men got arrested on supposedly trumped up charges.

Warren Houtman, arrested for driving with a defective light, Charlie Perry a known street fighter and Jimmy Magnett for just being there.
Magnett had been outspoken in letters written to the Standard Times of New Bedford and at local meetings

On July 11, the three whites (one was Ralph Brown of Acushnet) got through the barrier blocking the streets and drove a 57 Chevy to the front of the "Club" on Kempton Street., the driver got out and laid a shotgun on the roof of the car and fired into the crowd killing Lester Lima and wounding several others.

It was said that the riots were over police brutality, unlawful arrests, the death of Lester Lima and the wounding of the others.

Several tenement buildings in that neighborhood were burned in acts of arson. There were sniper incidents and looting. Many clashes between youths, local and state police and firefighters resulted in quite a few injuries.

At the time, there was no organized Black Panther Party in New Bedford, but Frank (Parky) Grace an ex-Vietnam Vet had been organizing and introducing Black Panthers to the locals.

The riots continued, and Edward Brooke a Black Republican Senator set up a committee to negotiate with the mayor and police.

More Black Panthers came to town and set up a headquarters in the partially burned and looted Pieraccini's Variety store on Kempton Street.

An outside classroom taught teachings of Mao and handed out Black Panther literature.

Pieraccini's was turned into a fort with sandbags and caches of weapons and gun slots etc.

Soon afterward a white man told police that he had been shot in the ankle when driving by the "fort."

The raid was on.

A huge force of local police and support by state police helicopters overhead netted 21 people from Pieraccini's. A weapons cache was found under the floor.

The FBI questioned the prisoners and kept a file on them. They were charged with conspiracy to commit murder, anarchy and rioting.

The date for the trial stretched on until March and just before the trial the serious charges against those defendants were dropped.

The all white jury took 45 minutes to acquit the three whites of the charges of murder, and wounding the others with the shotgun.
This seemed to many city residents to be a shocking result for what was thought to be a clear case of murder.
It was widely thought throughout the city that a deal must have been made. Essentially everybody got off, and things quieted down.
The author lived through this time in the city and was almost killed in a close experience with it.

Related Article Itsabouttimebpp
Another excellent source to read about this Encyclopedia of Race Riots


James H. Ottaway Jr. was succeeded by Gerald T. Tache, as the publisher of the Standard Times.
The Standard Times merged with Dow Jones & Co. Inc., and Ottaway Newspapers sold off the Standard-Times' non-newspaper holdings

The Immigrants Assistance Center was founded, by members of the Portuguese community, to help to deal with various problems encountered by recent immigrants.

Manuel Costa Sr. became first Cape Verdean to run for city wide office in New Bedford.

Portuguese people were a large percentage of the community.
New Bedford had 281 persons with Portuguese last names on the public school system payroll.
Seven were principals and nine were assistant principals. Classes in Portuguese language were offered at the high school and three junior high schools.

Placed on the National historic Register:
The Old Third District Courthouse in New Bedford Massachusetts is located at the corner of Second and William streets. It was built in 1853

The Waterfront Historic District was designated an Historic Disctrict

Sacred Heart School in New Bedford was closed and demolished angering many of the former and current students at that time as well as neighbors who had loved the school, and it's very sound structure.

The YMCA built a new facility on South Water Street.

The Marine Bank Building and the Rotch Counting House were destroyed to make room for, and to help with the construciton of the new Rt 18 between downtown and the fishing piers, as well as for urban renewal.

WHALE relocated the Henry Beetle House to Centre Street.

The new High School is opened to students at 230 Hathaway Boulevard.
It is built on the site of a former toxic waste dump. Many residents consider it to be very poor planning.
See the high school prior to 1972 on County Street and
the high school prior to 1909 on Summer Street
PCBs were banned in 1973.
The EPA designated New Bedford Harbor, and parts of the Acushnet River and Buzzards Bay, as a Superfund site in 1983.
Placed on the National Historic Register:
Fort Taber District or the "Fort at Clark's Point" is a historic American Civil War-era military fort in the former Fort Rodman Military Reservation in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The fort is now part of Fort Taber Park a 47-acre town park located in the extreme south end of the city at Clark's Point. Visit the museum open from 1pm to 4 pm almost every day.

The Route 195 Bridge crossing the Acushnet River is built just south of the Coggeshall Street Bridge.
The primary Sewage Treatment plant is built, and the outfall is at the end of Clark's Point, the extreme south end of the city.

On August 2, New Bedford hit the high mark with a record temperature of 107 degrees Fahrenheit.

Placed on the National historic Register:

Sgt. William H. Carney House is a historic house at 128 Mill Street. The house was built in 1850 .

The New Bedford Fire Museum is located in the former Fire Station No. 4 at the corner of Sixth and Bedford streets

First Baptist Church is a historic church at 149 William Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The church was built in 1829

 This year WHALE purchaed the Bourne Warehouse and the Andrew Robeson House.

There was a beginning of restoration of the landscaping in the Waterfront Historic District.

There were13 fatal car crashes in the city for this year.


New Bedford got control of the ship LV 114. It was brought to a dock in New Bedford and painted red with "NEW BEDFORD " in white block letters on its sides.
The city failed to maintain the ship and had to sell it for scrap.
This was another waste similar to the loss of the Charles W Morgan to Mystic Ct.

Placed on the National Historic Register:
First Baptist Church is an historic church at 149 William Street in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
The church was built in 1829.
Sgt. William H. Carney House, a historic house at 128 Mill Street. The house was built in 1850.

The presence of PCB's is found by researchers.

There were13 fatal car crashes in the city for this year.

The Waterfront Historic District had a sidewalk reconstruciton that started in 1976.


1976 August 11
Placed on the National Historic Register:
County Street Historic District is a historic district roughly bounded by Acushnet Avenue, Page, Middle, and Bedford streets on both sides of that street.

July 10 Tavares' "Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel" makes it onto Billboard's Top 40.
The New Bedford R&B / Disco group took it's name from the family name of the members. They are all the Tavares Brothers. The group was formerly known as Chubby and the Turnpikes.
1977 January 18, The Big Explosion!
In Downtown New Bedford, on Union street at the foot of Johnny Cake Hill a massive gas explosion destroyed the Macomber Sylvia building and O'Malley's Tavern.

It was to be sold by the historic group WHALE that day and was uninsured.
The Sundial builing was damaged but later refurbished. The Eggers building was badly damaged.
Added to the National Register of Historical Places:
Merrill's Wharf Historic District is a historic district on MacArthur Drive in New Bedford.
The district was built in 1837

There were 6 fatal car crashes in the city for this year.


In this year WHALE relocated three buidings, the Andrew Robeson, Caleb Spooner and Seth Russel Houses.

The Great Blizzard of '78
The massive destruction of the Blizzard of 1978 began on February 5, 1978.
It was caused by the coming together of a dense mass of low pressure off of the Carolina's coast and a Canadian high-pressure system.
The storm had tracked north and turned into a massive counter clock wise flow called a nor’easter depositing the bulk of the snowfall from the morning of February 6 until the evening of February 7.

Top wind speeds were 86 miles per hour and gusts got up to 111mph. It was equivalent to a category 1 hurricane. The storm came during a new moon and produced significant flooding along the coast of New England where more than 1,700 homes suffered substantial damage or were destroyed, and 39,000 people took refuge in emergency shelters.

The federal government paid out $202,000,000.00 in disaster relief.
The 36 hour long blizzard produced 3 feet of snow with drifts as high as 15 feet.

At St. Luke's hospital in New Bedford many employees worked multiple shifts some sleeping there and working the next day.
There were emergency snow trucks and plow vehicles etc. on the roads that helped to ferry critical employees from home to work.

Rt 195 was shut down as traffic came to a stop.
Some people died on Rt 95 near Boston due to snow that piled up and prevented the exhaust from escaping from their idling vehicles.

At the beginning when traffic had come to a stand still in the city this author and his then wife made an evening trek on foot to the local package store on Dartmouth Street and Orchard St. to get a nice bottle of Reunite Lambrusco wine.
We both worked at the hospital and luckily we lived nearby. I played music in a band at the time. The storm put not only musicians out of work, but nearly everyone not able to get out of their houses to travel.

One gigantic problem was disposal of the snow. It couldn't be plowed aside everywhere as there was too much of it, so it had to be loaded into trucks and carried away in some areas.
In New England, approximately 100 people died as a result of the storm.

On this site, we have a video covering the event of the storm.


The last of the whale oil ever sold in USA was sold in this year by the Nye Oil Co. in 1972 the Marine Mammals act prohibited it's manufacture. It became illegal for any American company to import raw material from marine mammals. Nye was permitted to deplete its current inventory.

1978 PCB's were banned for sale by the Environmental Protection Agency.

There were14 fatal car crashes in the city for this year.

Saint Anthony High School closed in 1978.

1978 October 2,
Placed on the National Historic Register:
Union Street Railway Car Barn and Repair Shop is a historic building on 1959 Purchase Street
It is made of Brick and was built in 1897.

The Rodman Candleworks buiding having been just restored opened bor business.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health banned all taking of shellfish from the New Bedford Harbor because of the presence of PCB's found in the shellfish.

There were 7 fatal car crashes in the city for this year.

After a reign of 12 years, Gerald T. Tache, publisher of the Standard Times became the parent company Ottaway's vice-president, and moved to the corporate headquarters at Campbell Hall, N.Y.
Donald Clifford was hired as the next (eighth) publisher.


Placed on the National Historic Register:
North Bedford Historic District is a historic district roughly bounded by Summer, Park, Pleasant and Kempton Streets

By the end of this decade, the city lost 122 blocks of houses and businesses due to the construction of Routes 195 and 18.

In this year WTEV Channel 6 on 430 County Street was sold and the call letters changed to WLNE by 1980 the studios had it moved to Rhode Island and the building no longer was a TV station.
Read more about WTEV.


New BEdford Lightship -
New Bedford Lightship 1975