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Watertown

 

Watertown, Massachusetts

Watertown's Main Street
Watertown's Main Street

History

Watertown, first known as Saltonstall Plantation, was one of the earliest of the Massachusetts Bay settlements. It was begun early in 1630 by a group of settlers led by Sir Richard Saltonstall and the Rev. George Phillips and officially incorporated that same year. The alternate spelling "Waterton" is seen in some early documents.

The first buildings were upon land now included within the limits of Cambridge known as Gerry's Landing. For its first quarter century Watertown ranked next to Boston in population and area. Since then its limits have been greatly reduced. Thrice portions have been added to Cambridge, and it has contributed territory to form the new towns of Weston (1712), Waltham (1738), Belmont (1859), and Lincoln. In 1632 the residents of Watertown protested against being compelled to pay a tax for the erection of a stockade fort at Cambridge; this was the first protest in America against taxation without representation and led to the establishment of representative government in the colony. As early as the close of the 17th century Watertown was the chief horse and cattle market in New England and was known for its fertile gardens and fine estates. Here about 1632 was erected the first grist mill in the colony, and in 1662 one of the first woolen mills in America was built here.

Saltonstall's landing spot in Watertown also known as Elbridge Gerry Landing

The Provincial Congress of Massachusetts, after adjournment from Concord, met from April to July 1775 in the First Parish Church, the site of which is marked by a monument. The Massachusetts General Court held its sessions here from 1775 to 1778. Committees met in the nearby Edmund Fowle House. Boston town meetings were held here during the siege of Boston, when many Boston families made their homes in the neighborhood. For several months early in the American Revolution the Committees of Safety and Correspondence made Watertown their headquarters and it was from here that General Joseph Warren set out for Bunker Hill.

Edmund Fowle House

From 1832 to 1834 Theodore Parker conducted a private school here and his name is still preserved in the Parker School, though the building no longer operates as a public school.

The Watertown Arsenal operated continuously as a military munitions and research facility from 1816 until 1995, when the Army sold the property, by then known as the Army Materials Technology Laboratory (History of the AMTL) to the town of Watertown. The Arsenal is notable for being the site of a 1911 strike prompted by the management methods of operations research pioneer Frederick Winslow Taylor (Taylor and 1911 Watertown Arsenal Strike). Taylor's method, which he dubbed "Scientific Management," broke tasks down into smaller components. Workers no longer completed whole items; instead, they were timed using stopwatches as they did small tasks repetitively, as Taylor attempted to find the balance of tasks that resulted in the maximum output from workers. The strike and its causes were controversial enough that they resulted in Congressional hearings in 1911; Congress passed a law in 1915 banning the method in government owned arsenals. Taylor's methods spread widely, influencing such industrialists as Henry Ford, and the idea is one of the underlying inspirations of the factory (assembly) line industrial method.

The Perkins School for the Blind, founded in 1829, has been located in Watertown since 1912.

The Stanley Brothers built the first of their steam-powered cars, which came to be known as Stanley Steamers, in Watertown in 1897.

In 1988, Watertown Square became the new location for the Armenian Library and Museum of America, said to host the largest collection of Armenian artifacts in North America.

The Watertown Arsenal was the site of a major superfund clean-up in the 1990s, and has now become a center for shopping, dining and the arts, with the opening of several restaurants and a new theatre. The site includes the Arsenal Center for the Arts, a community arts center that opened in 2005.

Geography

Watertown is located at 42°22′17″N 71°10′55″W / 42.37139°N 71.18194°W / 42.37139; -71.18194 (42.371296, -71.181961). To the north, it is bordered by the town of Belmont, along Belmont Street; to the south, it is bordered by Newton and Brighton - the border being largely formed by the Charles River. However, in Watertown Square, the nexus of the town, the town's border extends south of the Charles to encompass the neighborhood surrounding Casey Playground. To the East lies the City of Cambridge, the border to which is almost entirely the well-known Mount Auburn Cemetery, most of which is actually in Watertown (though commonly believed to be in Cambridge). To the west lies the more expansive city of Waltham, but there is no clear geographic feature dividing the two municipalities.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (10.8 kmē), of which 4.1 square miles (10.6 kmē) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.1 kmē or 1.20%) is water.

Demographics

As of the census of 2000, there were 32,986 people, 14,629 households, and 7,329 families residing in the city. The population density was 8,025.7 people per square mile (3,098.8/kmē). There were 15,008 housing units at an average density of 3,651.5/sq mi (1,409.9/kmē). The racial makeup of the city was 91.42% White, 1.73% African American, 0.16% Native American, 3.87% Asian, 0.02% Pacific Islander, 0.85% from other races, and 1.95% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.68% of the population.

Watertown is also a major center of the Armenian diaspora in the United States, with the third-largest Armenian community in the United States, estimated at over 8,000 as of 2007. Watertown ranks only behind the California cities of Glendale and Fresno. however the census of 2000 put the Armenian population at 2,708 or 8.2 percent.

There were 14,629 households out of which 17.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 37.9% were married couples living together, 8.7% had a female householder with no husband present, and 49.9% were non-families. 34.1% of all households were made up of individuals and 12.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.17 and the average family size was 2.86.

In the city the population was spread out with 14.1% under the age of 18, .4% from 18 to 24, 39.8% from 25 to 44, 20.0% from 45 to 64, and 16.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 37 years. For every 100 females there were 86.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 83.8 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $59,764, and the median income for a family was $67,441. Males had a median income of $46,642 versus $39,840 for females. The per capita income for the city was $33,262. About 4.5% of families and 6.3% of the population were below the poverty line, including 8.6% of those under age 18 and 7.5% of those age 65 or over.

Transportation

As property values within the Boston metropolitan area continue to rise, Watertown has gained in appeal as an attractive, affordable alternative to more expensive communities such as Cambridge, Brookline, Belmont, and Boston proper. Close to Soldiers Field Road and the Massachusetts Turnpike, major arteries into downtown Boston, Watertown has easy access to both Boston nightlife and more suburban communities such as Newton. Watertown Square is the terminus of several MBTA bus and trackless trolley routes. The former A-Watertown line of the MBTA Green Line ran to Watertown until 1969.

External links

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