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Coordinates: 42°22′31″N 71°03′52″W / 42.37528°N 71.06444°W / 42.37528; -71.06444

Charlestown
—  Neighborhood of Boston  —
Charlestown's former City Hall

Seal
Motto: Liberty A Trust To Be Transmitted To Posterity
Settled 1628
Incorporated 1847
Annexed by Boston 1873
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 617/857

Charlestown is a part of the city of Boston, Massachusetts located on a peninsula north of Boston proper. Charlestown was originally a separate town and the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it became a city in 1847 and was annexed by Boston on January 5, 1874. While it has had a substantial Irish American population since the migration of Irish during the Irish famine of the 1840s, since the late 1980s the neighborhood has changed dramatically because of its close proximity to downtown, and its colonial architecture.

Contents

History

Thomas and Jane Walford[1] were the original English settlers of Mishawaum (later Charlestown); they settled there in 1625. They were given a grant by Sir Robert Gorges, with whom they had settled at Wessagusset (Weymouth) in September 1623. John Endicott, first governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, had sent William, Richard and Ralph Sprague to Mishawaum to lay out a settlement. Thomas Walford, acting as an interpreter with the Massachusetts Indians, negotiated with the local sachem Wonohaquaham for Endicott and his people to settle there. Although Walford had a virtual monopoly on the region's available furs, he welcomed the newcomers and helped them in any way he could, unaware that his Episcopalian religious beliefs would cause him to be banished from Massachusetts to Portsmouth, New Hampshire within three years.

Originally a Puritan English city during the Colonial era (a time to which many of the neighborhood's structures date), Charlestown was founded in 1628, and settled July 4, 1629, by Thomas Graves, Increase Nowell, Rev. Francis Bright, Ralph, Richard and William Sprague and about 100 others who preceded the Great Migration. John Winthrop's company stopped here for some time in 1630, before deciding to settle across the Charles River at Boston.

1629 site of Puritan leader John Winthrop's "Great House" in City Square, uncovered during the Big Dig
Birdseye view of Boston, Charlestown, and Bunker Hill, between 1890 and 1910

The territory of Charlestown originally included what is now Stoneham (until 1725), Somerville (until 1842), Medford, Malden, Everett, Woburn, Burlington, and parts of Arlington and Cambridge.[2]

On June 17, 1775 the Charlestown Peninsula was the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill. In fact, the battle actually took place on Breed's Hill, which overlooked the harbor and the town and was only about 400 yards from the southern end of the peninsula; Bunker Hill was near the northwest end of the peninsula, close to Charlestown Neck and about a mile from the Charles River. The town, including its wharves and dockyards, was destroyed by fire during the battle.

Around the 1860s an influx of Irish immigrants arrived in Charlestown. The neighborhood remained an Irish stronghold in the cultural, economic, and Catholic traditions of neighborhoods like South Boston, Somerville, and Dorchester. On October 7, 1873, a vote was held to determine whether Charlestown should join Boston; Boston residents approved the question, 5960-1868, and Charlestown residents also approved, 2240-1947.[3]

During the early 1960s, the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) initiated plans to demolish and redevelop sixty percent of the housing in Charlestown.[4] In 1963, the BRA held a town meeting to discuss their plans with the community. The BRA's dealings with Boston's West End had created an atmosphere of distrust towards urban renewal in Boston, and Charlestown residents opposed the plan by an overwhelming majority. By 1965, the plan had been reduced to tearing down only eleven percent of the neighborhood, including the removal of the elevated rail tracks.

Throughout the 1960s until the middle 1990s, Charlestown was infamous for its Irish Mob presence. Charlestown's McLaughlin Brothers were involved in a gang war with neighboring Somerville's Winter Hill Gang, during the Irish Mob Wars of the 1960s. In the late 1980s, however, Charlestown underwent a massive gentrification process similar to that of the South End. Drawn to its proximity to downtown and its colonial, red-brick, row-house housing stock, similar to that of Beacon Hill, many upper-middle class professionals moved to the neighborhood. In the late 1990s, additional gentrification took place, similar to that in neighboring Somerville.[citation needed] Today the neighborhood is a mix of upper-middle and middle-class residences, housing projects, and a large working class Irish-American demographic and culture that is still predominant.

Geography

Sailboats moored on the Charlestown side of the Charles River with Bunker Hill Monument in the distance

Charlestown is located north of Boston proper on a peninsula extending southeastward between the Charles River and the Mystic River. The geographic extent of the neighborhood has changed dramatically from its colonial ancestor. Landfill operations have expanded much of Boston, lowering hills, and have expanded Charlestown, eliminating the narrow Charlestown Neck that connected the northwest end of the Charlestown Peninsula to the mainland. The original territory also included present-day Somerville, which was incorporated as a separate town in 1842, and the northern part of Arlington. At the time, Charlestown proper was urbanizing, while Somerville was still largely rural.

City Square in the southern part of Charlestown is the location of the historic city hall. It is also the terminus of the Charlestown Bridge and the former Warren Bridge, and was formerly a stop on the Charlestown Elevated. The Central Artery was built between 1951 and 1954, routing elevated ramps through City Square. The Central Artery North Area (CANA) project moved these underground, into the City Square Tunnel, making way for a revitalized surface park.

Thompson Square is located at the confluence of Main Street, Dexter Row, Green Street, and Austin Street. It was also formerly a stop on the Charlestown Elevated.

Places of interest

Interior of St. Mary's Church (1887-1893)
Bunker Hill Monument. Bunker Hill Day, Boston, and Charlestown, between 1890 and 1901

Charlestown contains several places of historical interest, many of which are marked by the northern end of Boston's Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail ends at the Bunker Hill Monument commemorating the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy, is docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Charlestown was also the location from which Paul Revere began his famous "midnight ride" before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. A local restaurant, opened in 1780 and still in operation, Warren Tavern, claims to have been one of Revere's favorite taverns. Of Charlestown's churches, St. Mary's (1887-1893) is considered one of the masterpieces of Patrick Keely.

Notable residents

Charlestown was the burying place of John Harvard, namesake of Harvard University.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Walford Family Line". http://kristinhall.org/fambly/Walford/WalfordName.html. Retrieved 2009-05-04. 
  2. ^ History of the Town of Medford, p. 2 [1]
  3. ^ "The Result in Figures", The Boston Globe, p. 5, October 8, 1873.
  4. ^ Jones, Michael, The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal and Ethnic Cleansing p529, St. Augustine's Press, South end Indiana, 2004. ISBN 1587317753
  5. ^ a b c Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  6. ^ A Sedgwick Genealogy, Descendants of Deacon Benjamin Sedgwick. New Haven: New Haven Colony Historical Society. 1961. 

External links


Coordinates: 42°22′31″N 71°03′52″W / 42.37528°N 71.06444°W / 42.37528; -71.06444 s moored on the Charlestown side of the Charles River with Bunker Hill Monument in the distance]]


File:Seal of Charlestown
Seal

Motto: Liberty A Trust To Be Transmitted To Posterity
Settled 1628
Incorporated 1847
Annexed by Boston 1873
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
Area code(s) 617/857

Charlestown is a part of the city of Boston, Massachusetts located on a peninsula north of Boston proper. Charlestown was originally a separate town and the first capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; it became a city in 1847 and was annexed by Boston on January 5, 1874. While it has had a substantial Irish American population since the migration of Irish during the Irish famine of the 1840s, since the late 1980s the neighborhood has changed dramatically because of its close proximity to downtown, and its colonial architecture.

Contents

Geography

Charlestown is located north of Boston proper on a peninsula extending southeastward between the Charles River and the Mystic River. The geographic extent of the neighborhood has changed dramatically from its colonial ancestor. Landfill operations have expanded much of Boston, lowering hills, and have expanded Charlestown, eliminating the narrow Charlestown Neck that connected the northwest end of the Charlestown Peninsula to the mainland. The original territory also included present-day Somerville, which was incorporated as a separate town in 1842, and the northern part of Arlington. At the time, Charlestown proper was urbanizing, while Somerville was still largely rural.

City Square in the southern part of Charlestown is the location of the historic city hall. It is also the terminus of the Charlestown Bridge and the former Warren Bridge, and was formerly a stop on the Charlestown Elevated. The Central Artery was built between 1951 and 1954, routing elevated ramps through City Square. The Central Artery North Area (CANA) project moved these underground, into the City Square Tunnel, making way for a revitalized surface park.

Thompson Square is located at the confluence of Main Street, Dexter Row, Green Street, and Austin Street. It was also formerly a stop on the Charlestown Elevated.

History

Thomas and Jane Walford[1] were the original English settlers of Mishawaum (later Charlestown); they settled there in 1625. They were given a grant by Sir Robert Gorges, with whom they had settled at Wessagussett (Weymouth) in September 1623. John Endicott, first Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, had sent William, Richard and Ralph Sprague to Mishawaum to lay out a settlement. Thomas Walford, acting as an interpreter with the Massachusetts Indians, negotiated with the local Sachem Wonohaquaham for Endicott and his people to settle there. Although Walford had a virtual monopoly on the region's available furs, he welcomed the newcomers and helped them in any way he could, unaware that his Episcopalian religious beliefs would cause him to be banished from Massachusetts to Portsmouth, NH within three years.

's, "Great House" in City Square, uncovered during the Big Dig]] Originally a Puritan English city during the Colonial era (a time to which many of the neighborhood's structures date), Charlestown was founded in 1628, and settled July 4, 1629, by Thomas Graves, Increase Nowell, Rev. Francis Bright, Ralph, Richard and William Sprague and about 100 others who preceded the Great Migration. John Winthrop's company stopped here for some time in 1630, before deciding to settle across the Charles River at Boston.

The territory of Charlestown originally included what is now Stoneham (until 1725), Somerville (until 1842), Medford, Malden, Everett, Woburn, Burlington, and parts of Arlington and Cambridge.[2]

On June 17, 1775 the Charlestown Peninsula was the site of the Battle of Bunker Hill. In fact, the battle actually took place on Breed's Hill, which overlooked the harbor and the town and was only about 400 yards from the southern end of the peninsula; Bunker Hill was near the northwest end of the peninsula, close to Charlestown Neck and about a mile from the Charles River. The town, including its wharves and dockyards, was destroyed by fire during the battle. , Charlestown, and Bunker Hill, between 1890 and 1910.]] Around the 1860s an influx of Irish immigrants arrived in Charlestown. The neighborhood remained an Irish stronghold in the cultural, economic, and Catholic traditions of neighborhoods like South Boston, Somerville, and Dorchester. On October 7, 1873, a vote was held to determine whether Charlestown should join Boston; Boston residents approved the question, 5960-1868, and Charlestown residents also approved, 2240-1947.[3]

During the early 1960s, The Boston Redevelopment Authority(BRA) initiated plans to demolish and redevelop sixty percent of the housing in Charlestown.[4] In 1963, the BRA held a town meeting to discuss their plans with the community. The BRA's dealings with Boston's West End had created an atmosphere of distrust towards urban renewal in Boston, and Charlestown residents opposed the plan by an overwhelming majority. By 1965, the plan had been reduced to tearing down only eleven percent of the neighborhood, including the removal of the elevated rail tracks.

Throughout the 1960s until the middle 1990s, Charlestown was infamous for its Irish Mob presence. Charlestown's McLaughlin Brothers were involved in a gang war with neighboring Somerville's Winter Hill Gang, during the Irish Mob Wars of the 1960s. In the late 1980s, however, Charlestown underwent a massive gentrification process similar to that of the South End. Drawn to its proximity to downtown and its colonial, red-brick, row-house housing stock, similar to that of Beacon Hill, many upper-middle class professionals moved to the neighborhood. In the late 1990s, additional gentrification took place, similar to that in neighboring Somerville.[citation needed] Today the neighborhood is a mix of upper-middle and middle-class residences, housing projects, and a large working class Irish-American demographic and culture that is still predominant.

Places of interest

. Bunker Hill Day, Boston, and Charlestown, between 1890 and 1901.]] (1887-1893).]]

Charlestown contains several places of historical interest, many of which are marked by the northern end of Boston's Freedom Trail. The Freedom Trail ends at the Bunker Hill Monument commemorating the famous Battle of Bunker Hill. The USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy, is docked in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Charlestown was also the location from which Paul Revere began his famous "midnight ride" before the Battles of Lexington and Concord. A local restaurant, opened in 1780 and still in operation, Warren Tavern, claims to have been one of Revere's favorite taverns. Of Charlestown's churches, St. Mary's (1887-1893) is considered one of the masterpieces of Patrick Keely.

Notable residents

Charlestown was the birthplace of inventor Samuel F. B. Morse, and the burial location of John Harvard, for whom Harvard University was named. Other notable residents include:

References

  1. ^ "Walford Family Line". http://kristinhall.org/fambly/Walford/WalfordName.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-04. 
  2. ^ History of the Town of Medford, p. 2 [1]
  3. ^ "The Result in Figures", The Boston Globe, p. 5, October 8, 1873.
  4. ^ Jones, Michael, The Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewal and Ethnic Cleansing p529, St. Augustine's Press, South end Indiana, 2004. ISBN 1587317753
  5. ^ a b c Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963. 
  6. ^ A Sedgwick Genealogy, Descendants of Deacon Benjamin Sedgwick. New Haven: New Haven Colony Historical Society. 1961. 

External links








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