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Brookline, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Brookline Reservoir

Seal
Location in Norfolk County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°19′54″N 71°07′18″W / 42.33167°N 71.12167°W / 42.33167; -71.12167
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Norfolk
Settled 1638
Incorporated 1705
Government
 - Type Representative town meeting
Area
 - Total 6.8 sq mi (17.7 km2)
 - Land 6.8 sq mi (17.6 km2)
 - Water 0.0 sq mi (0.1 km2)
Elevation 50 ft (15 m)
Population (2007)
 - Total 54,809
 Density 8,060.1/sq mi (3,114.1/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02445, 02446, 02447, 02467
Area code(s) 617 / 857
FIPS code 25-09175
GNIS feature ID 0619456
Website http://www.brooklinema.gov/

Brookline is a town in Norfolk County, Massachusetts, United States, which borders on the cities of Boston and Newton. As of the 2000 census, the population of the town was 57,107.

Contents

Etymology

Brookline was known as the hamlet of Muddy River (a river which today makes up part of the Brookline-Boston border) and was considered a part of Boston until the Town of Brookline was independently incorporated in 1705. Its name is derived from the brooks that created the town lines with the former towns of Brighton and Roxbury, which are both now parts of Boston.[citation needed]

Geography

Brookline is located at approximately 42°19′50″N 71°8′1″W / 42.33056°N 71.13361°W / 42.33056; -71.13361 (42.330664, -71.13364).[1]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 6.8 square miles (17.7 km²), of which, 6.8 square miles (17.6 km²) of it is land and 0.04 square miles (0.1 km²) of it (0.44%) is water.

Brookline borders Newton (part of Middlesex County) to the west and Boston (part of Suffolk County) to the east, north, south, northwest, and southwest; it is therefore non-contiguous with any other part of Norfolk County. Brookline became an exclave in 1873 when the neighboring town of West Roxbury was annexed by Boston (and left Norfolk County to join Suffolk County) and Brookline refused to be annexed by Boston after the Brookline-Boston annexation debate of 1873.

Brookline actually separates the bulk of the city of Boston (except for a narrow neck or corridor near the Charles River) from its westernmost neighborhoods of Allston-Brighton, which had been the separate town of Brighton until annexed by Boston in 1873.

History

Settlement and borders

1852 Map of Boston area showing Brookline and its brooks.

Once part of Algonquian territory, Brookline was first settled by European colonists in the early 1600s. The area was an outlying part of the colonial settlement of Boston and known as the hamlet of Muddy River. In 1705, it was incorporated as the independent town of Brookline. The northern and southern borders of the town were marked by two small rivers or brooks, hence the name. The northern border with Brighton (which was itself part of Cambridge until 1807) was Smelt Brook. (That name appears on maps starting at least as early as 1852, but sometime between 1888 and 1925 the brook was covered over.[2]) The southern border, with Boston, was the Muddy River.

The city of Brighton was merged with Boston in 1874, and the Boston-Brookline border was redrawn to connect the new Back Bay neighborhood with Allston-Brighton. This created a narrow strip of land along the Charles River belonging to Boston, cutting Brookline off from the shoreline. It also put certain lands north of the Muddy River on the Boston side, including what are now Kenmore Square and Packard's Corner. The current northern border follows Commonwealth Avenue, and on the northeast, St. Mary's Street. When the Emerald Necklace of parks and parkways was designed for Boston by Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1890s, the Muddy River was integrated into the Riverway and Olmsted Park, creating parkland accessible by both Boston and Brookline residents.

Throughout its history, Brookline resisted being absorbed by Boston, in particular as the Brookline-Boston annexation debate of 1873 was decided in favor of independence. The neighboring towns of West Roxbury and Hyde Park connected Brookline to the rest of Norfolk County until they were annexed by Boston in 1874 and 1912, respectively, putting them in Suffolk County. Brookline is now separated from the remainder of Norfolk County.

Brookline has long been regarded as a pleasant and verdant environment. In 1841 edition of the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening, Andrew Jackson Downing described the area this way:

The whole of this neighborhood of Brookline is a kind of landscape garden, and there is nothing in America of the sort, so inexpressibly charming as the lanes which lead from one cottage, or villa, to another. No animals are allowed to run at large, and the open gates, with tempting vistas and glimpses under the pendent boughs, give it quite an Arcadian air of rural freedom and enjoyment. These lanes are clothed with a profusion of trees and wild shrubbery, often almost to the carriage tracks, and curve and wind about, in a manner quite bewildering to the stranger who attempts to thread them alone; and there are more hints here for the lover of the picturesque in lanes than we ever saw assembled together in so small a compass.[3]

The town has since seen considerable development, though still does maintain a considerable amount of greenspace in certain neighborhoods.

Transportation and economy

Two branches of upper Boston Post Road, established in the 1670s, passed through Brookline. Brookline Village was the original center of retail activity.[4] In 1810, the Boston and Worcester Turpike, now Massachusetts Route 9, was laid out, starting on Huntington Avenue in Boston and passing through the village center on its way west.

Steam railroads came to Brookline in the middle of the 19th century. The Boston and Worcester Railroad was constructed in the early 1830s, and passed through Brookline near the Charles River. The rail line is still in active use, now paralleled by the Massachusetts Turnpike. The Highland Branch of the Boston and Albany Railroad was built from Kenmore Square to Brookline Village in 1847, and was extended into Newton in 1852. In the late 1950s, this would become the Green Line "D" Branch.

The portion of Beacon Street west of Kenmore Square was laid out in 1850. Streetcar tracks were laid above ground on Beacon Street in 1888, from Coolidge Corner to Massachusetts Avenue in Boston, via Kenmore Square.[citation needed] In 1889, they were electrified and extended over the Brighton border at Cleveland Circle. They would eventually become the Green Line "C" Branch.

Thanks to the Boston Elevated Railway system, this upgrade from horse-drawn carriage to electric trolleys occurred on many major streets all over the region, and made transportation into downtown Boston faster and cheaper. Much of Brookline was developed into a streetcar suburb, with large brick apartment buildings sprouting up along the new streetcar lines.

Neighborhoods

The neighborhoods, squares, and other notable areas of Brookline include:

There are many neighborhood associations, some of which overlap.[5][6]

Demographics

As of the 2000 census,[7] there were 57,107 people, 25,594 households, and 12,233 families residing in the town. The population density was 8,409.7 people per square mile (3,247.3/km²). There were 26,413 housing units at an average density of 3,889.6/sq mi (1,501.9/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 81.08% White, 2.74% Black or African American, 0.12% Native American, 12.83% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.01% from other races, and 2.18% from two or more races. 3.53% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 25,594 households out of which 21.9% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 38.4% were married couples living together, 7.1% have a female householder, and 52.2% were non-families as defined by the Census bureau. 36.7% of all households were made up of individuals and 10.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.18 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the town the population was spread out with 16.6% under the age of 18, 11.7% from 18 to 24, 37.3% from 25 to 44, 21.9% from 45 to 64, and 12.4% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years. For every 100 females there were 82.6 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 79.1 males.

According to a 2007 estimate,[8] the median income for a household was $82,496. The median income for a family was $120,933. Males had a median income of $56,861 versus $43,436 for females. The per capita income for the town was $44,327. About 4.5% of families and 9.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.3% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.

Climate

Climate data for Brookline, Massachusetts
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Record high °F (°C) 72
(22)
70
(21)
89
(32)
94
(34)
97
(36)
100
(38)
104
(40)
102
(39)
102
(39)
90
(32)
83
(28)
76
(24)
Average high °F (°C) 36
(2.2)
39
(3.9)
46
(7.8)
56
(13.3)
67
(19.4)
77
(25)
82
(27.8)
80
(26.7)
73
(22.8)
62
(16.7)
52
(11.1)
42
(5.6)
Average low °F (°C) 22
(-5.6)
24
(-4.4)
31
(-0.6)
41
(5)
50
(10)
59
(15)
65
(18.3)
64
(17.8)
57
(13.9)
46
(7.8)
38
(3.3)
28
(-2.2)
Record low °F (°C) -30
(-34)
-18
(-28)
-8
(-22)
11
(-12)
31
(-1)
41
(5)
50
(10)
46
(8)
34
(1)
25
(-4)
-2
(-19)
-17
(-27)
Precipitation inches (mm) 3.92
(99.6)
3.30
(83.8)
3.85
(97.8)
3.60
(91.4)
3.24
(82.3)
3.22
(81.8)
3.06
(77.7)
3.37
(85.6)
3.47
(88.1)
3.79
(96.3)
3.98
(101.1)
3.73
(94.7)
Source: The Weather Channel.[9] September 2008

Government

Brookline is governed by a representative (elected) town meeting, which is the legislative body of the town, and a five-person Board of Selectmen which serves as the executive branch of the town. For more details about the roles and procedures within the government of Brookline, please see the town government's own description.

Fire Department

Brookline is protected 24/7 by the professional firefighters of the Brookline Fire and Rescue Department. The Department operates out of five fire stations throughout the town and runs an apparatus fleet of eight engines(including one quint and three reserve engines), three trucks(including one tower and one reserve truck), and one special hazards rescue unit.

Fire Station locations

Fire Station # 1-Brookline Village

Engine 1 Engine 1(Reserve) Ladder 2 Rescue/Special Hazards 1

Fire Station # 4-Boylston Street

Engine 4 Squad 1

Fire Station # 5-Coolidge Corner

Engine 5 Tower 1 Ladder 1(Reserve)

Fire Station # 6-Training Division-Hammond Street

Engine 6

Fire Station # 7-Washington Square

Engine 3 Engine 3(Reserve) Engine 5(Reserve)

Education

Public schools

The town is served by the Public Schools of Brookline. The student body at Brookline High School includes students from more than 50 different countries. Many students attend Brookline High from surrounding neighborhoods in Boston such as Mission Hill and Mattapan, via the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) system.

There are eight elementary schools in the Brookline Public School system: Baker School, Devotion, Driscoll, Heath, Lawrence, Lincoln, Pierce, and Runkle. As of December 2006, there were 6,089 K-12 students enrolled in the Brookline public schools. The system includes one early learning center, eight grades K-8 schools, and one comprehensive high school. The Old Lincoln School is a surplus building used by the town to temporarily teach students, when a school building is renovated. It was rented in 2009, as the venue for the play Sleep No More.

The student body is 66.1% White, 17.7% Asian, 9.9% Black, 5.9% Hispanic, and 0.4% other. Approximately 30% of students come from homes where English is not the first language.

Private schools

Several private primary and secondary schools, including the Beaver Country Day School, Brimmer and May School, British School of Boston, Dexter School, Maimonides School, and The Park School are located in the town.

Higher education

Several institutes of higher education are located in Brookline, including:

Culture

As close to Boston as Brookline is, it has managed to maintain its own identity. Brookline features a mixture of urban and suburban living, upscale shops and recreational parks, apartment buildings and large estates. Along with offering both a city atmosphere and a feeling of being in the country, there is a wide mix of people in Brookline. It is the home of many academic and scientific professionals who work at the nearby medical centers in Boston. Brookline has staunchly refused to be absorbed by Boston, which surrounds it like a horseshoe. Brookline has kept its town meeting form of government since its 1705 incorporation. It also has an overnight on-street parking ban which is unusual for such a dense area. Among its many unusual resources, Brookline has its own working farm (with farm stand), the oldest country club in the nation, a town golf course, a park on a hillside overlooking Boston with an open-air skating rink and transportation museum, as well as numerous neighborhood parks and playgrounds scattered throughout the town.

Its major retail centers, including Coolidge Corner, Brookline Village, Washington Square, Cleveland Circle and the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center, are pedestrian-oriented shopping areas with a variety of stores, restaurants and malls.

Although predominantly residential, Brookline is somewhat open to new commercial development, and has amended its zoning to encourage limited growth along its major thoroughfares.

Brookline is known in the Boston area for its large population of Russian and Israeli immigrants and numerous synagogues. Jewish culture is very strong in Brookline; the Jewish population was estimated in 2002 at 20,300,[10] so Jews compose over 35% of the town's population. Jewish culture is especially notable along the section of Harvard Street that starts at Washington St (Brookline Village) runs through Beacon Street (Coolidge Corner) and ends at Commonwealth Avenue, continuing into Allston-Brighton. This neighborhood is home to at least three area synagogues including the first Jewish congregation in Massachusetts (Ohabei Shalom, founded in Boston in 1842 and located in Brookline since the 1920s) and a number of Jewish-themed restaurants and stores. Brookline is also known for its excellent schools, which are supported in large part by property taxes — the town has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country.

While residents of Brookline tend toward liberal values, economic and cultural factors keep this section of the Boston metropolitan area less diverse than its neighbor across the Charles River, Cambridge. Brookline's liberalism and diversity are relatively new developments in the town's history. In the 19th century, Brookline, which had been called "the richest town in America", was a sanctuary for the wealthy, where Boston's elites built their summer homes. Brookline is still typically regarded by locals as a wealthier suburb of Boston (along with Newton), given the number of wealthy individuals (CEOs, high-profile executives, famous musicians and actors) who reside there.

The Brookline Historical Society maintains its headquarters in the Edward Devotion House, one of the oldest colonial structures in Brookline with its earliest segments dating to probably around 1680. The first Edward Devotion (1621–1685) settled in Brookline in about 1650. Devotion was a French Huguenot. The Brookline Historical Society was founded in 1901 and began meeting in the Devotion House the same year.[11] The Edward Devotion School nearby is built on land donated by Edward Devotion's grandson.

Points of interest

  • St. Aidan's Church was where John F. Kennedy was christened and where the Kennedy family and other prominent Irish-Americans were parishioners. The church was designed by architect Charles Maginnis, who was awarded the American Institute of Architects' gold medal. Though it is on the National Register of Historic Places, St. Aidan's Church has been closed and may be converted into housing.

See also Chestnut Hill Points of Interest.

Notable residents

References in popular culture

See also

References

External links








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