Danyel Barnard

Tile image

Current name: Danyel Barnard Reed

Age when this tile was made: 9

Where did you live when you made this tile?

We lived on Burnham St., between Broadway and Powder House Blvd., in two-family house painted dark green with yellow trim. An older Italian lady lived downstairs and I remember her yelling at us in Italian whenever we made the smallest bit of noise.

Where else have you lived in Somerville?

My family first moved from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Somerville when I was 2 (in 1973). We first lived in a house on Putnam St., just South of Somerville High and City Hall. Next we moved to Burnham St. and then to various locations in Cambridge before my mother bought a house just outside of Davis Square in 1989 before the T was extended to Alewife. My mother still lives in that house on Glover Circle, in the area behind the Somerville Theater.

Where do you live now?

Los Angeles, CA

Do you consider Somerville your hometown? Yes

What is your earliest Somerville memory?

Watching 4th of July fireworks from the Prospect Hill tower. Dunkin’ Donuts. Movies at the Somerville Theater. Dance classes at the Mary Flynn Murphy dance studio in Teal Square. The Somerville Library. And of course the Blizzard of 1978! We had a huge snowball fight involving all the neighborhood kids.

How would you describe Somerville in the 1980s?

Somerville was very working class with a great emphasis on family. It seemed that there was some tension between the people who had lived there for many generations and anyone new. But that didn’t stop all the kids from playing on the block and riding bikes together.

How would you describe Somerville today?

I remember laughing with my mom when Utne Reader that first called Davis the Paris of the 90s. While I think that is a clearly a stretch, there are parallels, such as a great arts community, good cafes (Diesel), and cute shops (D2 and Magpie). But Somerville has retained some of its original character—in David Square, you can still get your coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts if you just keep walking past Starbucks! With all the changes that have occurred over the years, I think there is a greater sense of community in Somerville than ever. My mom knows all her neighbors and they always help each other out. And there are some great community events each year like ArtBeat.

How has Somerville changed?

Somerville has definitely been gentrified in many ways. I think that the abolition of rent-control in Cambridge had a huge impact on Somerville. When it became too expensive to live in Cambridge, people, especially students and young professionals, starting migrating to Somerville in search of affordable housing. And this was only intensified by the extension of the Red Line to Alewife, which in itself changed Somerville by connecting it so closely with Cambridge and Boston.

Any other thoughts about growing up in Somerville that you'd like to share?
I think that the diversity of Somerville (ethnic, economic, cultural) truly makes it a unique place. I have lived all over the country and there is something about Somerville, a richness and a humility, that stands out.