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The five most-read Brookline.News stories of 2023, and how they came to be

The intersection of Beacon Street and Harvard Street. Photo by Zoe Zekos
December 19, 2023

As we come up on the end of the year, we at Brookline.News are feeling grateful to you, our readers, for supporting us as we launched this new endeavor .

In that spirit, I wanted to pull back the curtain a bit to share with you which stories resonated the most with our readers, and how we produced them.

These were the most-read stories on Brookline.News this past year:

Three men tied to Lowell gang robbed Brookline resident of $700,000 in jewelry during home invasion, police say

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Hi, this is Sam Mintz, the editor of Brookline.News. Thanks so much for reading our work and supporting us during our first year. In our next year, we want to expand our journalism to cover more of the subjects you care about, and write stories that go more in-depth into life in Brookline. But to do that, we need your help. Please consider making a tax deductible donation this spring to help us grow.

After police announced the first arrests in a high-profile home invasion that took place last summer, I went down to the courthouse to find out more. I was able to collect dozens of pages of police reports from the court documents, and the striking details contained in them made this story our most-read of the year.

Bartaco bringing street food, cocktails to Washington Square

It started with a question from a reader: “Can you find out what’s happening in Washington Square, at the site of the old Fireplace Restaurant?” I looked through Select Board meeting minutes to get details about licensing for the new restaurant, and quickly found enough to write the story.

Carlton Street Footbridge set to reopen in July after decades of debate, delay

Shortly after we launched Brookline.News in May, Hugh Mattison, an advocate for the Carlton Street Footbridge project, got in touch to let me know that its long-awaited reopening was imminent. It ended up taking a little longer than he expected, but what’s a few weeks when you’ve been waiting decades? I talked to proponents, opponents and everyone in between to try to tell the dramatic history of the heated town politics that led, finally, to the restoration of the pedestrian bridge to Riverway Park.

Town Meeting passes major rezoning plan likely to reshape Harvard Street

I knew ahead of time that this Town Meeting vote, to rezone Harvard Street to allow for hundreds of new units of multifamily housing, was going to be a big story. I had been researching and reporting it for months, and we had published a number of stories about possible outcomes. On the night of the vote, I was in the room, listening to the debate and interviewing the movers and shakers. Our story was published later that night (before, I want to note, the Boston Globe’s article, which had two reporters working on it.)

Town administrator asks residents to stop putting Israeli hostage posters on public property

I first learned about this issue through an email sent by the Town Administrator through the Town Meeting Members Association listserv (now readable by the public due to a Brookline.News public records request). To write this story, I quoted the Town Administrator, talked to a critic of the decision, and provided some context about why these posters had been a controversial flashpoint in this and other communities. I also took a ride around town to capture some photos and see for myself the posters that were in various stages of removal from telephone poles and utility boxes.