Somerville, Massachusetts is a city located in Middlesex County, 2 miles outside of Boston. First settled in 1629, as part of Charlestown, it was known as the area “Beyond the Neck”. From its earliest days, it was considered a blue-collar community. Today it is one of the most sought-after suburbs of Boston, rife with artists and commuters.
Somerville has a population of nearly 79,000 people, though the city itself only covers just over 4 square miles. This makes it the most densely populated municipality in New England, and the 16th such in the nation. Somerville achieves this distinction not through high-rise apartments, but rather having narrow streets, closely built houses, and many multi-family homes and condos.
Somerville is a city with seven main hills, separating it into distinct areas and neighborhoods. These hills, along with one-way winding streets, give Somerville much of its unique personality. These hills include:
The city is further divided into numerous squares around which local businesses are centered:
Though small, each square has its own character, with residents having strong ties to their neighborhood.
Somerville is one of the many historic cities in Massachusetts, dating back to 1629. Major roads, including present-day Washington Street and Broadway, began to take shape in the 1630s. The area was used for cow-grazing and farming, though it soon grew into a flourishing industrial city.
During the Revolutionary War, the Old Powder Mill was raided by British soldiers, one of the first hostile acts of the war. The mill still stands today, and is seen on the seal of the city. Prospect Hill and its tower, giving a view of the city and lands surrounding it, then served as a primary location for the Continental Army. It was here that the first official raising of the American flag took place on January 1, 1776.
After being incorporated in 1842, the city’s population began to grow rapidly. Brick manufacturing, meat processing and packaging, and a variety of factories gave many employment opportunities to residents who moved here. The city flourished, with help from the eight rail lines that ran through it. In the 1920s, the Ford Motor Company built a manufacturing plant in Somerville, furthering its industrial presence in the Commonwealth.
Though the city experienced a decline after the 1950s, today it is experiencing a rebirth. Following the extension of the Red Line into Davis Square, the city began to come alive again with artists, young commuters, and an active population. Today it is one of the most sought-after areas in the Greater Boston area, due to its location and amenities.
Somerville may not have the rolling parklands that characterize other Boston suburbs, but it more than makes up for it with its rich arts community, festivals, and other events throughout the year. Events include:
Residents also enjoy dozens of unique restaurants and food trucks, providing a myriad of dining options.
Somerville, Massachusetts is an exciting, vibrant, and diverse community. As one of the mostly densely populated places in the nation, it is no surprise that the city enjoys the melting pot of many different cultures, blending to form this one-of-a-kind city.