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Winthrop, Massachusetts
—  Town  —
Nickname(s): Winthrop-by-the-Sea
Location in Suffolk County in Massachusetts
Coordinates: 42°22′30″N 70°59′00″W / 42.375°N 70.9833333°W / 42.375; -70.9833333
Country United States
State Massachusetts
County Suffolk
Settled 1635
Incorporated 1852
 - Type Council-manager
 - Council president Jeffrey Turco
 - Town manager Lawrence S. Holmes (interim)
 - Total 8.3 sq mi (21.5 km2)
 - Land 2.0 sq mi (5.2 km2)
 - Water 6.3 sq mi (16.3 km2)
Elevation 36 ft (11 m)
Population (2007)
 - Total 20,154
 - Density 10,077/sq mi (3,875.8/km2)
Time zone Eastern (UTC-5)
 - Summer (DST) Eastern (UTC-4)
ZIP code 02152
Area code(s) 617 / 857
FIPS code 25-80930
GNIS feature ID 0618335

The Town of Winthrop is a city in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, United States. Although known as a town, Winthrop adopted a home rule charter in 2005 with a council-manager form of government[1][2] and is considered a city under Massachusetts law. The population of Winthrop was 18,303 at the 2000 census. Standing on Winthrop's edge one can see the city of Boston and Deer Island.



The town was settled in 1635 by English colonists as Pullen Poynt[3]. In 1775, residents of what is now Winthrop, Revere, and Chelsea played a key role in the Battle of Chelsea Creek of the Revolutionary War[3]. It was officially incorporated in 1852 and named Winthrop after Deane Winthrop, the son of the first Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, and is one of the four municipalities in Suffolk County (the others are the cities of Boston, Revere, and Chelsea). It is located on a peninsula, at the beginning of the North Shore, with seven miles of shoreline that provides views of the ocean to the east and of the Boston skyline to the west.

Originally part of an area called Winnisimmet by the Native Massachusett tribe[4], the peninsula was annexed by Boston in 1632 and within five years became the grazing area for farm animals of the rapidly growing Boston colony. In 1637 it was divided into 15 parcels of land that were given by Governor Winthrop to prominent men in Boston with the stipulation that each must erect a building on his land within two years. Few, if any, of these men ever lived here, but their farms prospered. One of these early houses, built initially during the first half of the 1600s, and rebuilt in 1675, was the home of Governor Winthrop’s youngest son, Deane Winthrop, who lived there until his death in 1703. This house is still standing and is maintained, for public viewing, by the Winthrop Improvement and Historical Association[5].

In 1739, what is now Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop withdrew from Boston due to governmental control disputes and became the Town of Chelsea. Again the desire for more local control resulted in Revere and Winthrop seceding from Chelsea in 1846 to become North Chelsea. Shortly thereafter, in 1852, Winthrop was incorporated as a town in its own right with a Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting form of government. In 1920, Winthrop was the second town in the Commonwealth to apply for and receive a Charter for a Representative Town Meeting, which continued to 2006.

In 2006, a new Town Charter, establishing a city form of government, was passed in a special election. The Board of Selectmen and Town Meeting were abolished, and legislative powers were vested in an elected Town Council. Executive power, largely ceremonial, resides in the Council President, who is popularly elected. An appointed Town Manager serves as the head of administrative services.

On July 26, 2007, the Winthrop Sun Transcript reported that a movement was beginning to abolish the Town Council and return to a Representative Town Meeting. The multi-step process to reverse the changes made by the 2006 charter is quite complex, so it remains to be seen what form of government Winthrop will have going forward.

Deer Island, though within the city limits of Boston, is located in Winthrop Bay. It ceased to be an island in the 1930s when Shirley Gut, which separated it from Winthrop, was filled in. The island has a sordid past as an internment camp for Native Americans during King Philip's War, a quarantine station where many immigrants died, and the site of a county jail. Today the island is home to the mammoth Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant, which provides sewage treatment for the Boston area.[6]

Winthrop includes Snake Island in Boston Harbor as well as a portion of Logan Airport.

Winthrop has a weekly newspaper, the Winthrop Sun Transcript, which reports local news, current events, happenings, and concerns.


View of Boston from Winthrop's Point Shirley (photo taken in August 2003)

According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of 8.3 square miles (21.5 km²), of which, 2.0 square miles (5.2 km²) of it is land and 6.3 square miles (16.3 km²) of it (76.02%) is water.


As of the census[7] of 2000, there were 18,303 people, 7,843 households, and 4,580 families residing in the town. The population density was 9,208.3 people per square mile (3,551.2/km²). There were 8,067 housing units at an average density of 4,058.5/sq mi (1,565.2/km²). The racial makeup of the town was 94.44% White, 1.68% Black or African American, 0.16% Native American, 1.15% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 1.36% from other races, and 1.16% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.69% of the population.

There were 7,843 households out of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 43.1% were married couples living together, 11.5% had a female householder with no husband present, and 41.6% were non-families. 32.5% 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 2.30 and the average family size was 2.98.

Winthrop's Yirrell Beach, looking north from Deer Island (photo taken in August 2003)

In the town the population was spread out with 18.6% under the age of 18, 7.3% from 18 to 24, 33.2% from 25 to 44, 24.4% from 45 to 64, and 16.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 40 years. For every 100 females there were 88.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 86.3 males.

The median income for a household in the town was $53,122, and the median income for a family was $65,696. Males had a median income of $42,135 versus $36,298 for females. The per capita income for the town was $27,374. About 3.3% of families and 5.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 4.1% of those under age 18 and 8.0% of those age 65 or over.


Winthrop has a town center with a number of businesses, including CVS/pharmacy, Michael's Mall (a small strip mall), Samuel's Pharmacy and The Pizza Center. The town center has always had a modestly vibrant business community. However, by the mid-1990s, large shopping malls in the nearby North Shore region of Massachusetts, especially Square One Mall in Saugus, began to drain away measurable amounts of business. A small business community still survives.

The town is divided into four unique business areas: the Shirley Street Business District, the Crystal Cove District, the Center, and Magee's Corner District.


Winthrop is served by the MBTA Blue Line station Orient Heights in East Boston and is located along Route 145. It also has two bus routes throughout the town serviced by Paul Revere Transportation. These bus routes include Route 712 which services the highlands and Route 713 servicing the center. These routes extend from Point Shirley down by the Deer Island entrance and terminate at Orient Heights. Nearby Logan International Airport is typically used for air service.

An MBTA water transportation dock has been underway at the public landing for the past few years. The transport is said to transport people across the Boston Harbor. The date of completion is unknown.


Winthrop currently has five schools:

  • Winthrop Senior High School, Grades 9-12, which is located on Main Street.
  • Winthrop Middle School, Grades 6-8, which is located on Pauline Street.
  • Arthur T. Cummings Elementary School, Grades Pk-2, which is located on Hermon Street.
  • William P. Gorman/Ft. Banks Elementary School, Grades 3-5, which is located on Kennedy Drive.

The town also has numerous pre-schools and day cares for parents seeking early education options.


Winthrop has many places of worship. They include:

  • Temple Tifereth Israel
  • St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church


Winthrop, although highly developed, has a diverse ecosystem with many various flora and fauna. The climate of Winthrop is a temperate, humid continental climate, with warm summers and cold, snowy winters. Some of the flora and fauna that can be seen in Winthrop are as follows:




Points of interest

  • Deane Winthrop House: one of the longest constantly lived-in houses in the U.S. (on Shirley Street)
  • Fort Banks: Built to help protect the Boston Harbor from attack during the World Wars. An underground bunker is all that remains of this fort (off Revere and Almont Streets). It was once used as a Halloween haunted house called the 'Haunted Dungeon'.
  • Fort Heath: Built to help protect the Boston Harbor from attack during the World Wars. It is now replaced with the Fort Heath Apartment building and a park on the bluff overlooking the ocean and Revere Beach.
  • Larson Rink: an indoor ice skating rink.
  • Lewis Lake Park
  • Winthrop Water Tower: located on Water Tower Hill, it is a red, white, and blue striped water tower. Capable of holding one million gallons of water, it is maintained by Winthrop's water department.[2]
  • Winthrop Golf Course: a private 9-hole, par 35 golf course.
  • Winthrop Graveyard: includes graves from the 18th century.
  • Winthrop Playmakers: a non-profit communitty theather group that features up to six performances a year.
  • Winthrop Shore Drive

Belle Isle Marsh Reservation

Winthrop abuts the largest salt marsh in Boston Harbor, the 350 acre Belle Isle Marsh Reservation. This marsh also borders East Boston and Revere. It used to be a Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) reservation, and is now run by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR.) This marsh is a reserve for a variety of wildlife and plants. It is maintained in part by the Friends of Belle Isle Marsh, a grassroots environmental organization.


Annual Events in Winthrop


  • Strawberry Festival - located at the Deane Winthrop House


  • 3rd of July Bonfire which is held at Yirrell Beach (cancelled permanently after 2008 due to Public Safety concerns)
  • 4th of July Fireworks & "Horribles Parade" - Parade starts at the Public Landing and ends at Coughlin Park. A fireworks display follows at nightfall.
  • Annual Sandcastle Contest at Yirrell Beach
  • Summer Concert Series - Wednesday nights at the Ingleside Park gazebo.


  • A Taste of Winthrop - event showcasing various Winthrop restaurants.


  • Fall Fair and Craft Show at Ingleside Park.


  • Holiday Tree Lighting Festival - held on the Friday eve after Thanksgiving and features fun and games that culminate with the lighting of the trees in French Square by Santa Claus.


Notable natives


External links


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