Brewster Place is a low income housing development created by shady dealings of city managers. It was originally created to house the influx of Irish and Italian immigrants flooding into the city. It served this purpose for many years, but was eventually transformed into a housing apparatus for mainly African-Americans.
There are several parts of Brewster Place that are important. First, the walls of the development are symbols to the difficulties the women face in life. When Mattie first moves into her tiny apartment she notes the plants will die from lack of sunshine. This symbolizes the dying of the residents dreams from lack of hope. Additionally, the walls serve to separate them from the rest of society. The development is located not far from more thriving economic areas of the city. Brewster Place serves as symbol that these women in particular are separated from the thriving portion of society.
Another birth of Brewster Place is when Mattie moves into the place. Her appearance helps to buoy spirits of other residents as she seeks to take care of them. The bonding that occurs between them can be seen as a secondary birth of Brewster Place from a forbidding, run down and forgotten development to a home, if a shabby one.