Development in Boston’s Seaport District accelerated dramatically after Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced its move to the neighborhood. Photo by Steve Adams | Banker & Tradesman Staff

To celebrate its 150th anniversary, Banker & Tradesman is highlighting significant moments in the history of Massachusetts’ real estate and banking industries. To suggest a topic, email

What: Boston’s “Innovation District” Is Born
When: Jan. 4, 2010
Where: South Boston

In his 2010 State of the City address, former Mayor Thomas Menino touted an ambitious vision for turning the 1,000-acre South Boston waterfront into Boston’s “Innovation District” by luring tech and life science companies from Cambridge and the suburbs. 

That vision came alive on Jan. 25, 2011, when Vertex Pharmaceuticals announced plans to relocate from a complex of buildings in Cambridge to a new 1.1 million-square-foot headquarters at The Fallon Co.’s Fan Pier development. Within three years of Menino’s address, the neighborhood added 4,000 jobs at 200 newly arrived companies, according to city officials. 

While office and multifamily projects spread across the neighborhood during the decade, major life science development didn’t follow until 2019, when Cambridge-based Foundation Medicine leased 580,000 square feet for a new headquarters at 400 Summer St. 

“A new approach is called for on the waterfront, one that is both more deliberate and more experimental. Together, we should develop this thousand acres into a hub for knowledge workers and creative enterprises.” 

— Former Mayor Thomas Menino 

This Month in History: Boston’s ‘Innovation District’ Is Born

by Steve Adams time to read: 1 min