The CommunityMoving to a new city or town can be an exciting journey. In order to help you find the right community that best suits your lifestyle, I’ve compiled information to help you become more familiar with the local cities and towns — and to discover the unique characteristics of each.
Learn more about the local community, including comprehensive school information, local government, history and culture:
One of the world’s most unique, culturally diverse cities, Cambridge, Massachusetts, is architecturally rich and varied. Each of its neighborhoods offers its own charm and a wealth of housing stock – both old and new – accessible to the breathtaking array of amenities that make Cambridge one of the nation’s most desirable living areas.
Visit the City of Cambridge site
Visit the Cambridge school system site
The residential district known as Avon Hill was developed largely between 1870 and 1900 from land comprising the Cooper-Frost estate. The oldest complete house, built around 1690, is located here. The handsome 19th and early 20th century homes form a tranquil neighborhood, close to Harvard Square and public transportation.
The former Port of Cambridge is one of the city’s oldest residential neighborhoods, sought after for its many historic and architecturally interesting homes and its location near the Charles River. Minutes from Harvard University, MIT and Boston University, the neighborhood is convenient to the Massachusetts Turnpike, rapid transit services, Harvard Square and Boston.
During the 19th Century, East Cambridge was one of the city’s principle centers, now undergoing an historic revival, with technology companies reclaiming handsome brick factory buildings; an internationally-acclaimed restoration of the Bulfinch Building and courthouse complex; and the development of the Cambridge Side Galleria and park along the Charles River. Minutes from Boston by foot or public transportation.
Dana Hill, a fashionable 19th Century residential district of Mid-Cambridge – the site of Cambridge City Hall, Cambridge Public Library and other City offices – has a rich array of architecturally fine and varied housing stock, originating in the 1830′s and built largely on the former Francis Dana estate.
Beginning in the 19th Century, residences began to be built on land surrounding upper Massachusetts Avenue, which had been the route to areas north and west of Cambridge since the 17th Century. Today the varied architecture of Victorian and early 20th Century single- and multi-family homes co-exist with handsome new home construction on quiet streets and closely knit neighborhoods near Porter Square, Alewife and the Arlington town line.
The city’s most famous district, West Cambridge is noted for its many pre-Revolutionary houses, as well as the subdivision of land that enabled the intensive development and varied housing built in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Belmont is a mostly residential suburb of Boston and Cambridge which covers an area of approximately 4 ½ square miles and a population of 24,700. Belmont is 7 miles west of Boston.
Visit the Town of Belmont site
Visit the Belmont school system site
A Rich HistorySettlement in the area that now includes Belmont began in 1630, when Sir Richard Saltonstall and approximately 40 families separated from the first settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and moved inland to start an agricultural community. Originally called Pequosette after the local Indian tribe, the name of the new town soon changed to Watertown. In 1638, by order of the General Court, Watertown paid the Pequosette Indians the sum of 13 pounds, 7 shillings and 6 pence for the land.
The original settlement spread inland extensively into the present towns of Watertown, Waltham, Weston, Lincoln and parts of Cambridge and Belmont. In 1738, Waltham seceded from Watertown, and the future Belmont was now part of three towns.
A Growing CommunityIn 1805, Frederick Tudor began cutting ice on Fresh Pond. As his business grew, he decided to build a railroad from his wharves in Charlestown to Fresh Pond. This line was built about 1843.
With the railroad so near, the citizens of Waltham clamored to have it extended to their village, which was granted, and the line ran through what was to become the Town of Belmont. The railroad made the purely agricultural community available for residences of well-to-do Bostonians. Settlements centered around Wellington Station (now Belmont Center), Waverley Station and Hill’s crossing station.
Those settlements grew into villages, but local government arrangements were annoying because citizens had to go to Watertown, Waltham or West Cambridge (now Arlington) to vote and attend town meetings. A group of about 1,000 people joined together in the early 1850′s and announced their desire to form a separate town. One of the most enthusiastic advocates was John Perkins Cushing, the largest taxpayer of the proposed town, who gave generously and openly to the incorporation expense on the condition that it be named after his 200 acre estate “Bellmont.”
A New Town was BornThe towns of Watertown, Waltham and West Cambridge fought the proposed creation of a new town, but in the end the battle was won and on March 18, 1859, the Town of Belmont was born. Of the then total area of 5 square miles, 2.26 were taken from Watertown, 0.67 from Waltham and 2.82 from West Cambridge. The population was 1,175 of whom 170 were registered voters and 325 were school children. The new town was a widespread collection of fruit farms and market gardens. Produce from Belmont farms was sold at Faneuil Hall market. Specialties included celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, berries and small fruits. In fact, “Belmont” became a term of distinction indicating quality and large size.
The original town included a part of present day Cambridge, including half of Fresh Pond. Because of a controversy over a slaughter house erected in Belmont on the banks of the pond, which was the drinking water supply for Cambridge, an 0.89 square mile of Belmont was annexed in 1880 to Cambridge. This left Belmont with a total area of 4.676 square miles. Minor adjustments due to various Route 2 widenings makes the total area 4.655 square miles today.
In the 1900′s, the large number of artists, authors, educators, physicians and scientists moving to the town doubled its population. As a result, the farming community disappeared. Belmont today, with a population of 25,349, is almost entirely residential and is known as “The Town of Homes.” (Source: Richard Betts)
Arlington offers a unique blend of urban convenience and suburban small-town flavor – providing something for everyone. Urban convenience manifests itself in excellent town services, a superior school system, varied recreational opportunities, great shopping variety and easy access via public transportation and highways to Boston, Cambridge, Route 128/95, industrial areas and the airport.
Visit the Town of Arlington web site
Visit the Arlington school system site
Sense of NeighborhoodSuburban flavor is most evident in Arlington’s sense of neighborhoods, the traditional New England Town Meeting form of government and exceptional citizen involvement in civic affairs and educational and cultural activities.
Small wonder that Arlington appeals to people from every walk of life: professionals, academics, medical personnel, highly skilled workers and entrepreneurs. Together they represent an enriching diversity of lifestyles and a wholesome range of income levels.
An Active CitizenryArlington citizens participate enthusiastically in a myriad of activities. There are historical committees, the Art Association, Philharmonic, widely renowned Friends of the Drama, and many groups supporting schools, the library, area hospitals and many governmental endeavors.
And Arlington citizens have their choice of housing. Single family houses range from modest homes on small lots to expansive executive properties, including unique waterfront homes. There are numerous condominiums, and many multi-family houses offering rental opportunities and income potential. Though there is some new construction, most Arlington property is at least 30 years old. Many homes date back to the turn of the century and are prized for their quality and uniqueness. In short, there is something for everyone in Arlington.
The City of Somerville is a small business and residential haven of approximately four square miles. It is ideally located adjacent to Boston, one-and-a-half miles from the city’s financial and commercial districts.
Visit the City of Somerville web site
Visit the Somerville school system site
Somerville can aptly be described as a gateway to Eastern Massachusetts. Immediate access is available to routes 1, 2, 16, 28, 38, 90 and 128 and to Interstate 93 and 95. Somerville is also just 3.5 miles from Boston’s Logan International Airport. The T.F. Green Airport in Providence is less than an hour away.
Somerville is extremely accessible to public transportation. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) subway service is easily available throughout the city and offers access to Boston and other communities. In addition, 14 different bus lines travel through the city.
A Wide Spectrum of ServicesThe City of Somerville offers a wide spectrum of services for its residents and businesses. The community’s electrical and energy needs are served by the Boston Edison Company, Boston Gas and Commonwealth Gas. Somerville’s municipally owned water and sewer system successfully provides residents with some of the lowest rates in the Greater Boston area. Somerville was the first community in the Commonwealth to offer residents a choice in cable television providers. Today, RCN Corporation, AT&T Broadband and Bell Atlantic all service Somerville via an advanced fiber-optic network.
Culture, Restaurants and ShopsThroughout this compact, vibrant community, over 50 different languages are spoken and over 15 religions are practiced. The international flavor of Somerville guarantees that you will feel at home. Diversity is a key component of Somerville’s attractiveness to residents and business owners.
Somerville’s array of restaurants offers samples of cuisine from all over the world. Both Union Square and Davis Square are dining and entertainment destinations for Greater Boston. And of course, you are just minutes from the array of cultural opportunities in Boston and Cambridge. (Source: City of Somerville)
Strategically located just six miles northwest of Boston in Middlesex County, Watertown enjoys the advantages of this metropolitan commercial, residential and social community while maintaining its own local characteristics and unity.
Watertown is rich in ethnic diversity and culture, boasts a high level of citizen involvement and many amenities such as shopping malls, swimming pools, golf and tennis clubs, skating rinks, athletic clubs, 11 parks and public transportation – providing easy access to Boston and surrounding communities.
Visit the Town of Watertown web site
Visit the Watertown school system site
Historic BeginningsThis tiny urban community was founded in 1630 – the first inland settlement in America. Originally encompassing all of Weston and Waltham and large sections of Lincoln, Cambridge and Belmont, Watertown was first known as Saltonstall Plantation (named for Sir Richard Saltonstall, who founded the settlement).
Today, this compact culturally diverse community is home to over 33,000 people. Local residents enjoy a virtual plethora of activities along the banks of the Charles River. Outdoor types will find many hours of recreation and stimulation picnicking, strolling, sailing or crew boating, jogging, rollerblading and cycling. Swimming pools are available in the summer months and ice skating rinks in the winter for public enjoyment. The facilities are inexpensive, well maintained and conveniently located throughout the area.