A Look at the Rise and Fall of the Notorious Boston Combat Zone

Sex, Sleaze, and “Cold Tea”

Tim Reynolds
Tales From the Underworld
5 min readJun 14, 2022


Depiction of the Boston Combat Zone (Image generated via Midjourney)

Today, Boston Massachusetts is one of the wealthiest and most progressive cities in the United States. Known worldwide for its elite universities and institutions, medical industries, and as a destination for high skilled workers and high-paying job opportunities.

This was not always the case. During the 1960s and 1970s, Boston was suffering from many of the problems that plagued other large cities and urban centers during this time. Problems from urban decay to high levels of crime and violence caused many people who had the means to pick up and leave. Further putting a strain on the city as the tax base began to shrink.

It was during the 1960s that the Boston Redevelopment Authority demolished the city’s former red-light district which had been located at Scollay Square. In turn, many of the strip clubs, porno theaters, peep shows, and street prostitutes relocated to an area adjacent to Chinatown along Washington Street between Boylston and Kneeland Streets.

This area seemed like a logical fit for an adult entertainment and red-light district for several reasons. The first being that they would not be moving far (less than half a mile from Scollay Square) and the rents were cheap compared to other parts of Boston.