Medford was settled in 1630 as part of Charlestown. The area was originally called "Mistick" by Thomas Dudley (a name which persisted for many decades), which his party renamed "Meadford". The name may have come from a description of the "meadow by the ford" in the Mystic River, or from two locations in England that Cradock may have known: the hamlet of Mayford or Metford in Staffordshire near Caverswall, or from the parish of Maidford or Medford (now Towcester, Northamptonshire). In 1634, the land north of the Mystic River became the private plantation of former Governor Matthew Cradock; across the river was Ten Hills Farm, which belonged to John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony.
In 1637, the first bridge (a toll bridge) across the Mystic River was built at the site of the present-day Cradock Bridge, which carries Main Street into Medford Square. It would be the only bridge across the Mystic until 1787, and as such became a major route for traffic coming into Boston from the north (though ferries and fords were also used). The bridge would be rebuilt in 1880 and 1909.
Until 1656, all of northern Medford was owned by Cradock, his heirs, or Edward Collins. Medford was governed as a "peculiar" or private plantation. As the land began to be divided among several people from different families, the new owners began to meet and make decisions locally and increasingly independently from the Charlestown town meeting. In 1674, a Board of Selectmen was elected, in 1684, the colonial legislature granted the ability to raise money independently, and in 1689, a representative to the legislature was chosen. The town got its own religious meeting room in 1690, and a secular meeting house in 1696.
In 1692, the town engaged its first ordained preacher, Rev. John Hancock Sr., grandfather to John Hancock, first and third Governor of Massachusetts and famous revolutionary figure; during his time of service Rev. Hancock lived in Medford, serving until November 1693.
18th and 19th centuries
The land south of the Mystic River, present-day South Medford, was originally known as "Mistick Field". It was transferred from Charlestown to Medford in 1754. This grant also included the "Charlestown woodlots" (the Medford part of the Middlesex Fells), and part of what was at the time Woburn (now Winchester). Other parts of Medford were transferred to Charlestown in 1811, Winchester in 1850 ("Upper Medford"), and Malden in 1879. Additional land was transferred to Medford from Malden (1817), Everett (1875), and Malden (1877) again.
The population of Medford went from 230 in 1700 to 1,114 in 1800. After 1880, the population rapidly expanded, reaching 18,244 by 1900. Farmland was divided into lots and sold to build residential and commercial buildings, starting in the 1840s and 1850s; government services expanded with the population (schools, police, post office) and technological advancement (gas lighting, electricity, telephones, railways). Tufts University was chartered in 1852 and the Crane Theological School at Tufts opened in 1869.
During the 17th century, a handful of major public roads (High Street, Main Street, Salem Street, "the road to Stoneham", and South Street) served the population, but the road network started a long-term expansion in the 18th century. The Medford Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1803, and (as was reasonably common at the time) turned what is now Mystic Avenue over to the city in 1866. The Andover Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1805, and turned what is now Forest Street and Fellsway West over to Medford in 1830.
A horse-powered street railway began running to Somerville and Charlestown in 1860. The street railway network expanded in the hands of various private companies, and went electric in the late 1890s, when trolleys to Everett and downtown Boston were available. Streetcars were converted to buses in the 20th century. Interstate 93 was constructed between 1956 and 1963.
In 1868, a French astronomer and naturalist, Leopold Trouvelot, was attempting to breed a better silkworm using Gypsy moths. Several of the moths escaped from his home, at 27 Myrtle Street. Within ten years, the insect had denuded the vegetation in the neighborhood. It spread over North America.
Medford was home to Fannie Farmer, author of one of the world's most famous cookbooks—as well as James Plimpton, the man credited with the 1863 invention of the first practical four-wheeled roller skate, which set off a roller craze that quickly spread across the United States and Europe.
Amelia Earhart lived in Medford while working as a social worker in 1925.
Elizabeth Short, the victim of an infamous Hollywood murder and who became known as The Black Dahlia, was born in Hyde Park (the southernmost neighborhood of the city of Boston, Massachusetts) but raised in Medford before going to the West Coast looking for fame.
One of the biggest bank robberies and jewel heists in world history happened on Memorial Day weekend in 1980, when several crooked officers of the Medford Police and Metropolitan District Commission Police forces robbed the Depositors Trust bank in Medford square. The book The Cops Are Robbers: A Convicted Cop's True Story of Police Corruption is based upon this event. Salvatore's Restaurant, located at 55 High Street in Medford Square, is partially in the same location as the bank that was robbed. The private dining room in the restaurant uses the bank's vault door as an entrance way, and the hole in the corner of the ceiling that the robbers crawled through was left intact for nostalgia.
An admitted Mob execution by Somerville's Winter Hill Gang of Joe "Indian-Joe" Notarangeli took place at the "Pewter Pot" cafe in Medford Square, now called the "Lighthouse Cafe."
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22 km2), of which, 8.1 square miles (21 km2) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km2) of it (5.79%) is water.
There were 22,810 households out of which 22.3% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 42.5% were married couples living together, 11.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.1% were non-families. 24.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 11.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.38 and the average family size was 3.00.
In the city, the population was spread out with 13.8% under the age of 15, 14.3% from 15 to 24, 31.7% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 15.2% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37.7 years. For every 100 females, there were 91.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 89.4 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $52,476, and the median income for a family was $62,409. Males had a median income of $41,704 versus $34,948 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,707. About 4.1% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.7% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.
Numerous Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bus lines go through Medford—specifically, the 80, 94, 95, 96, 99, 100, 101, 108, and 134 bus routes provide local service and direct connections to nearby areas in Arlington, Somerville, Cambridge, Malden, Charlestown, Winchester, and Woburn, while the 325 and 326 routes provide express service to downtown Boston and the 710 route is contracted to Joseph's Transportation, a Medford family-owned company. The 90, 97, 106, 110, and 112 bus routes additionally terminate at Wellington station with at most one other stop in Medford, providing a direct connection between Medford and nearby areas in Somerville, Everett, Malden, Revere, Chelsea, East Boston, and Melrose. On Medford's east side, Wellington station on the Orange Line provides a connection to Boston and the entire rapid transit system. On the west side, the Lowell Commuter Rail Line stops in West Medford Square.
Discussion of bringing the Green Line into Medford, as is mandated by environmental mitigation provisions of the Big Dig project, is ongoing. On February 2, 2009, the state formally endorsed extending the Green Line through Medford, terminating near the intersection of Boston Avenue and Mystic Valley Parkway (Massachusetts Route 16). As proposed, the terminus would not have parking facilities. The extension would serve an additional 10,000 potential Green Line riders.
Joseph's Limousine and Transportation of Medford runs a bus line through the city and also picks up passengers going to other parts of Greater Boston or out of state.
Interstate 93 travels roughly north–south through the city. State routes passing through Medford include 16, 28, 38, and 60.
Points of interest
1852 map of Boston area showing Medford and rail lines.
Tufts University: Though the Tufts campus is mainly located in Medford, the Somerville–Medford border actually runs through it. The school employs many local residents and has many community service projects that serve the city, especially those run through the Leonard Carmichael Society and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service, the latter of which especially emphasizes public service in Tufts' host communities.
^"1950 Census of Population"(PDF). Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-10 and 21-11, Massachusetts Table 6. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1930 to 1950. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1920 Census of Population"(PDF). Bureau of the Census. Number of Inhabitants, by Counties and Minor Civil Divisions. Pages 21-5 through 21-7. Massachusetts Table 2. Population of Counties by Minor Civil Divisions: 1920, 1910, and 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1890 Census of the Population"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. Pages 179 through 182. Massachusetts Table 5. Population of States and Territories by Minor Civil Divisions: 1880 and 1890. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1870 Census of the Population"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1872. Pages 217 through 220. Table IX. Population of Minor Civil Divisions, &c. Massachusetts. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1860 Census"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1864. Pages 220 through 226. State of Massachusetts Table No. 3. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1850 Census"(PDF). Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
^"1950 Census of Population"(PDF). 1: Number of Inhabitants. Bureau of the Census. 1952. Section 6, Pages 21-7 through 21-09, Massachusetts Table 4. Population of Urban Places of 10,000 or more from Earliest Census to 1920. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
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