Cemetery and apartment houses along Commonwealth Avenue, Brighton, near Chandler's Pond
In 1630, land comprising present-day Allston-Brighton and Newton was assigned to Watertown. In 1634, the Massachusetts Bay Colony transferred ownership of the south side of the Charles River, including present-day Allston-Brighton and Newton, from Watertown to Newetowne, later renamed Cambridge.
In 1646, Reverend John Eliot established a "Praying Indian" village on the present Newton-Brighton boundary, where resided local natives converted to Christianity. The first permanent English settlement came as settlers crossed the Charles River from Cambridge, establishing Little Cambridge, the area's name before 1807.
Before the American Revolutionary War, Little Cambridge become a small, prosperous farming community with fewer than 300 residents. Its inhabitants included wealthy Boston merchants such as Benjamin Faneuil (after whom a street in Brighton is named).
A key event in the history of Allston-Brighton was the establishment in 1775 of a cattle market to supply the Continental Army. Jonathan Winship I and Jonathan Winship II established the market, and in the post-war period that followed, the Winships become the largest meat packers in Massachusetts.
The residents of Little Cambridge resolved to secede from Cambridge when the latter's government made decisions detrimental to the cattle industry and also failed to repair the Great Bridge linking Little Cambridge with Cambridge proper. Legislative approval for separation was obtained in 1807, and Little Cambridge renamed itself Brighton.
On October 1873, the Town of Brighton voted to annex itself to the City of Boston, and in January 1874 Brighton officially became a neighborhood of the City of Boston.
Brighton is accessible via the B line of Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's (MBTA) Green Line as well as its local bus routes (57 - Kenmore Square to Watertown Yard, 64 - Oak Square to Central Square (Cambridge) via Cambridge Street, 65 - Kenmore Square to Brighton Center via Longwood Medical District, 70 - Waltham to Central Square (Cambridge) via Western Avenue and 86 - Cleveland Circle to Harvard Square via Market Street) and inner-express bus routes (501 - Brighton Center to Financial District and 503 - Brighton Center to Copley Square). The C branch of the Green line terminates in Brighton, and the D branch of the Green line runs nearby, though not through Brighton.
While 47% of the population of Brighton drives alone to work, 36% uses mass transit, compared with 71% and 15% respectively for the United States as a whole.
As of 2007, the estimated population of Brighton is 42,789, a 2.81% loss from the 2000 Census. The population density is 14,797 per mi2, slightly higher than the citywide average of 12,166 per mi2. The median age is 32.2. The largest measured age cohort is 25-34, which comprises 32.52% of the population. (Note: depending on methodology, college students might not be counted.) Fifty-nine percent of the population have never been married.
The population was 78% white, 12% Asian American, 3.5% black or African American, and nearly 7% Hispanic of any race.
Thirty-three percent of Brighton has graduated from a four-year college.
The median home price is $495,000 compared with $217,200 for the country as a whole, and the cost of living is 30% higher than the national average. Brighton has a comparatively older housing stock. The median home age was 58 years and 42% of homes were built before 1939.
The largest religious group (45%) is Catholic, with Protestants and other Christians making up the second-largest, at 10% of the population. The next largest religious identification is Judaism (4%), with Islam at 2%.
- Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City, born in Brighton
- William F. Galvin, Secretary of State
- Joe Kennedy, son of the late Robert Kennedy
- Patrick J. Kennedy, U.S. Congressman for Rhode Island's 1st district
- John Krasinski, film actor, director, writer
- Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and many other Boston-set novels
- James Lynch, member of the Dropkick Murphys
- Mr. Lif, political rapper
- Fred Salvucci, former Massachusetts secretary of transportation