Belmont, Massachusetts is a residential town in Middlesex County. Covering 4.7 square miles of land, its neighbors include Cambridge, Arlington, Lexington, Waltham, and Watertown. Belmont is considered a suburb of Boston, and many residents commute into the city for work. Its population is nearly 25,000.
Belmont residents can access other towns and I-95 easily from the town. Route 60 and Trapelo Road are major roads through town, and Route 2 runs across the northern border. There are also two MBTA commuter rail stations in Belmont: Waverly Station and Belmont Center. This provides east-west access out to Fitchburg and into North Station in Boston.
While the Belmont Hill neighborhood is characterized by mansions, most residents live in more modest homes. There are three primary commercials areas in Belmont, including Belmont Center, Cushing Square, and Waverly Square. For more than 70 years, Belmont Center enjoyed having a major department store – first Filene’s, and later Macy’s – at its core. That space is now occupied by other retail stores and restaurants.
Belmont, like much of this region of Massachusetts, was first settled by Europeans in 1630. Belmont was settled as an agricultural community, and was part of Watertown at the time. In 1638, Watertown paid the local Native Americans for the land, officially establishing the town.
The railroad then shaped the future of the town. As ice became a large industry at nearby Fresh Pond, a railroad was built to transport the ice. It soon extended further west through what would become Belmont and into Waltham. With small villages springing up around the stations at Waverly, Wellington, and Hill’s Cross, the residents came together in the 1850s led by John Perkins Cushing. As he funded much of the incorporation, the new town was named after his estate, “Bellmont” in 1859.
Belmont remained agricultural, sending its produce into the Faneuil Hall Marketplace for sale. It was especially known for tomatoes, cucumbers, berries, celery, and other small fruits. During the early 1900s, the population exploded with artists, scientists, physicians, and other professionals, who saw Belmont as an ideal place to building large estates for their families. The economy then shifted from traditional farming to commercial greenhouses, which persisted until the 1980s. Today the town is primarily residential with several retail areas.
Like many other towns in Massachusetts, Belmont was shaped by the coming of the railroad in the 1840s. Originally built to transport ice from Fresh Pond to the wharves along the coast, the railroad made Belmont accessible to Bostonians, who soon began to flock here for the open lands.
For a time, the town was serviced by two separate railroad lines. Today, however, there is only one track through Belmont, owned by the MBTA. As part of the Fitchburg commuter rail line, Belmont has two stations at Belmont Center and Waverly. Improvements were made to make the tracks run over and under the roads, to avoid traffic congestion and improve safety.
The historic Wellington Hills Station is no longer in use, though it is an important historic building in town. Built in the 1840s as a private school, it was used as a railroad station from 1852 to 1879. It then saw use as a summer home, before being donated to the town as a historic structure.
Belmont, Massachusetts is a residential suburb of Boston with stunning architecture and a population who values the history of the town. With easy access to Boston, Belmont residents enjoy a suburban lifestyle close to the city life.