Arlington, Massachusetts is a town in Middlesex County, approximately 6 miles from the capital city of Boston. Bordered by Medford, Somerville, Cambridge, Winchester, Lexington, and Belmont, it covers approximately 5.5 square miles of land. Arlington has several waterways including Spy Pond, Mill Brook, Hills Pond, and the Arlington Reservoir. Additionally, along its borders run Alewife Brook, the Mystic Lakes, and the Mystic River.
The town has a population of nearly 43,000 people, and it is divided up into several neighborhoods. These include:
Each neighborhood has a distinct feel ranging from urban center areas to quiet residential streets.
Arlington also has a variety of parks, covering over 210 acres of town land. Some popular parks in the town include Spy Pond Park, Robbins Farm Park, and Menotomy Rocks Park. A number of historic houses and monuments are also within the town.
Arlington has direct access to Route 2, running into Boston and Western Massachusetts, as well as providing an easy route to Interstate 95. Residents can also travel along Routes 2A, 16, and 3 to access other nearby towns. Many bus routes run through the town, and the nearby Alewife Brook station on the Red Line provides convenient public transportation for residents.
First settled as the village of Menotomy, Arlington saw its first residents as early as 1635. At the time, it covered much more area than it does now, as other towns would later split off to form their own municipalities. In 1807, the town was incorporated as West Cambridge, but the name was later changed to Arlington in 1867, in honor of the fallen soldiers buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
The first European settlers purchased the land from the Massachusett tribe of Algonquian Native Americans. The tribe had been decimated by disease, and the chief’s widow sold the land for ten pounds and a new winter coat each year, while retaining her tribe’s rights to live, hunt, and fish on their land.
Arlington had fertile farmland, as well as several waterways, making it an ideal place for farmers and millers to establish a community. Spy Pond also provided ample ice that was able to be shipped as far as Caribbean and India. Today, Arlington is a largely residential commuter town, though there is a bustling downtown area and many small businesses and restaurants in town.
While much of history focuses on the events in Lexington on April 19, 1775, Arlington also figured prominently into the history of that fateful day. Following Paul Revere’s ride through the town and the subsequent battles in Lexington and Concord, minutemen converged upon Arlington – then called Menotomy. As the British retreated, they were ambushed by the militia men for the bloodiest battle of the day. In all, half of colonists’ deaths that day were recorded in Menotomy, while the British suffered even heavier casualties.
Remnants of this bloody battle can still be seen today at the Jason Russel House. This museum honors the fallen soldiers of that day, and remains much as it was in 1775, including the bullet holes that were caused during the battle.
Arlington, Massachusetts is a popular suburb of Boston, with ample transportation and recreational opportunities. With a thriving school district and downtown area, residents can enjoy the proximity to Boston with the comfort of suburban life, all set on the backdrop of American history.