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Belmont, Massachusetts
—  Town  —

Seal
Location in Middlesex County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°23′45″N 71°10′45″W / 42.39583°N 71.17917°W / 42.39583; -71.17917
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Middlesex
Settled 1636
Incorporated 1859
Government
 - Type Representative town meeting
Area
 - Total 4.7 sq mi (12.2 km2)
 - Land 4.7 sq mi (12.1 km2)
 - Water 0.1 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 44 ft (13 m)
Population (2007)
 - Total 23,356
 - Density 4,969.4/sq mi (1,930.2/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02478
Area code(s) 617 / 857
FIPS code 25-05070
GNIS feature ID 0618216
Website www.town.belmont.ma.us

Belmont is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. The population was 24,194 at the 2000 census.

Contents

History

Belmont was founded on March 18, 1859 by former citizens of, and land from the bordering towns of Watertown, to the south; Waltham, to the west; and Arlington, then known as West Cambridge, to the north. The town was named after Bellmont, the 200 acre (0.8 km²) estate of one of the leading advocates of and largest donor to its creation, John Perkins Cushing. The easternmost section of the town, including the western portion of Fresh Pond, was annexed by Cambridge in 1880[1] in a dispute over a slaughterhouse licensed in 1878[2] on Fresh Pond, so that Cambridge could protect Fresh Pond, a part of its municipal water system. Much of that area is now a major commercial and office center for the city of Cambridge.

Preceding its incorporation, Belmont was an agrarian based town, with several large farms servicing Boston for produce and livestock. It remained largely the same until the turn of the twentieth century, when trolley service and better roads were introduced, making the town more attractive as a residential area, most notably for the building of large estates.

Belmont's population grew by over 90 percent during the 1920s.[3]

The economics of the town shifted from purely agrarian to a commercial greenhouse base: much of the flower and vegetable needs of Boston were met from the Belmont 'hothouses' which persisted until about 1983 when Edgar's, the last large greenhouse firm in the area, closed. Other commercial enterprises in Belmont included mining and waste management. The reclamation of a large dump and quarry off Concord Avenue into sites for the Belmont High School and the Clay Pit Pond stands as a lasting example of environmental planning. With the introduction of automobiles and highways Belmont continued its transition to a commuter-based suburb throughout the twentieth century.

Belmont was the home of the headquarters of the John Birch Society from the organization's founding in 1958 until its relocation to Appleton, Wisconsin in 1989. It was located at 395 Concord Avenue, next-door to the Belmont branch of the Post Office. Today the building houses the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research[1].

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Present day

Belmont remains a primarily residential suburb with little growth since the 1950s. It is best known for the mansion-filled Belmont Hill neighborhood, although most residents live in more densely settled, low-lying areas around the Hill. There are three major commercial centers in the town: Belmont Center in the center, Cushing Square in the south, and Waverley Square in the west. Town Hall and other civic buildings are located in Belmont Center. Large tracts of land from former farms and greenhouse estates form public or public-accessible areas such as Rock Meadow, Habitat (Mass Audubon), portions of the McLean Hospital tract and various town fields.

The major roads in the town are Concord Avenue, which bisects the town from east to west, Common Street and Pleasant Street (Route 60) which travel north-south through Belmont, and Trapelo Road and Belmont Street which run along the southern edge of the town. Massachusetts Route 2 runs along the northern border of the town. Belmont is also served by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Fitchburg Commuter Rail line and MBTA Bus line numbers 73, 74/75, 78, 84, and 554.

The town is home to McLean Hospital, a psychiatric hospital and research center, and the Boston Massachusetts Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Geography

Topography of Belmont and environs

Belmont is located at 42°23′30″N 71°10′30″W / 42.39167°N 71.175°W / 42.39167; -71.175 (42.391546, -71.174712).[4]

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 4.7 square miles (12.2 km²), of which, 4.7 square miles (12.1 km²) of it is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (1.06%) is water.

Belmont is bordered by Cambridge on the East, Arlington on the North, Lexington on the Northwest, Waltham on the West, and Watertown on the South.

Demographics

As of the census[5] of 2000, there were 24,194 people, 9,732 households, and 6,452 families residing in the town. The population density was 5,190.2 people per square mile (2,004.6/km²). There were 9,980 housing units at an average density of 2,141.0/sq mi (826.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 91.19% White, 1.10% Black or African American, 0.13% Native American, 5.76% Asian, 0.01% Pacific Islander, 0.41% from other races, and 1.41% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.82% of the population.

There were 9,732 households out of which 31.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 54.9% were married couples living together, 8.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 33.7% were non-families. 25.9% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.9% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.45 and the average family size was 3.01.

In the town the population was spread out with 22.7% under the age of 18, 4.5% from 18 to 24, 31.0% from 25 to 44, 25.1% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 87.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 82.8 males.

According to a 2007 estimate[6], the median income for a household in the town was $85,981, and the median income for a family was $102,964. Males had a median income of $64,579 versus $45,505 for females. The per capita income for the town was $42,485. About 3.6% of families and 4.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 3.9% of those under age 18 and 5.3% of those age 65 or over.

Education

Belmont is served by the Belmont Public Schools, governed by an independently elected school committee.[7]

There are four public elementary schools in Belmont, the Mary Lee Burbank, Daniel Butler, Winn Brook, and Roger Wellington schools. Two other public elementary schools, Payson Park and Kendall, were closed in the 1970s and 1980s, respectively. The former closed after being destroyed by fire, the latter closed due to population shifts and was converted to an arts center, which was later also destroyed by fire. There is one public middle school, the Winthrop L. Chenery Middle School, which was rebuilt on the same location after an electrical fire damaged the auditorium in 1995, and one public high school, Belmont High School. Belmont High has an outstanding reputation for college placement; strong athletics, academics, music, and theater arts; a typical class size of about 280 students; and average SAT's for the class of 2004 of 1179. Belmont students also have the option to attend Minuteman Career and Technical High School in Lexington. Minuteman High also offers adult education courses. In 2009, US News and World Reports gave Belmont High School a gold medal and named it the 100th best non-private high school in the United States and the second best in the state of Massachusetts.

Belmont Hill School is a private, non-sectarian all-male high school, grades 7-12. Belmont Day School is a private, non-sectarian PK-8 school. There are several smaller private schools.

Government

The executive branch of the town government consists of a three-person Board of Selectmen elected by the residents. The Selectmen appoint a Town Administrator who is in charge of daily operations.

The legislative branch is a representative town meeting, with eight districts each electing 36 representatives, plus ex-officio members and a Town Moderator to run the annual meeting.[7]

Belmont is part of the 24th Middlesex District (for the Massachusetts House of Representatives), the 2nd Middlesex and Suffolk District (for the Massachusetts Senate), and Massachusetts's 7th congressional district (for the United States House of Representatives).

Notable residents

Belmont Town Hall circa 1913.
A recent photograph.

Somewhat due to its proximity to Cambridge and Boston, Belmont has often had a dozen Nobel Prize winners in residence at one time or another. Well-known past and present residents include:

Points of interest

References

External links


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