|• Mayor||Joseph Curtatone|
|• Total||4.2 sq mi (10.9 km2)|
|• Land||4.1 sq mi (10.6 km2)|
|• Water||0.1 sq mi (0.3 km2)|
|Elevation||12 ft (4 m)|
|• Density||18,147.6/sq mi (7,019.3/km2)|
|Time zone||Eastern (UTC-5)|
|• Summer (DST)||Eastern (UTC-4)|
|ZIP codes||02143, 02144, 02145|
|Area code(s)||617 / 857|
Somerville // is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, located two miles northwest of Boston. As of 2010[update], the United States Census has the city with a total population of 75,754 people, and is the most densely populated municipality in New England. As of 2000[update], it was the 17th most densely populated city in the country. It was established as a town in 1842, when it was separated from Charlestown. In 2006, the town was named the best run city in Massachusetts by the Boston Globe. In 1972 and again in 2009 the city received the All-America City Award.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Government
- 4 Education
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Business and entertainment
- 7 Points of interest
- 8 Transportation
- 9 Local media and press
- 10 Notable natives
- 11 References
- 12 Bibliography
- 13 External links
Somerville was first settled in 1630 as part of Charlestown. It was known as "Charlestown beyond the Neck" because it was part of the Massachusetts mainland, not the Charlestown Peninsula. Charlestown Neck was a narrow strip of land that joined the two places. In 1842, the incorporation of Somerville separated the largely rural town from the urbanizing Charlestown.
The original choice for the city's new name, after breaking away from Charlestown, was Walford, after the first settler of Charlestown, Thomas Walford. However, this name was not adopted by the separation committee. Charles Miller, a member of this committee, proposed the name "Somerville", which was ultimately chosen. It was not derived from any one person's name. A report commissioned by the Somerville Historical Society found that Somerville was a "purely fanciful name".
Paul Revere, in one account wrote of his ride to warn the colonists, mentions a location in Somerville, then part of Charlestown. The location was the site where twenty years earlier a local slave known as Mark, owned by John Codman, was publicly gibbeted. The location is probably near the site of the present day Holiday Inn on Washington Street.
Somerville encompassed many of the less desirable railway and industrial lands squeezed between the Charles River to the southwest, and the Mystic River to the northeast. For all its problems, the town's late 19th and early 20th century industrial revolution left behind a rich historical record of Sanborn Maps, apparently invented in Somerville in 1867, and subsequently used for fire insurance appraisal across the United States. The delicate, detailed original maps are on display at the main branch of the Somerville Public Library.
Until the 1990s, Somerville was colloquially referred to as "Slummerville", on account of its blue-collar residents and its reputation for crime, especially in the city's east, where the Winter Hill Gang was based. The city also had a very high car theft rate, once being the car theft capital of the country, and its Assembly Square area was especially infamous for this. However, after the gentrification period the city went through in the 1990s, and an influx of artists to the area, this name has mostly faded from use and the city has instead gained a reputation for its active arts community and effective government including being named the best run city in Massachusetts in 2006. More recently, lobbying by grassroots organizations is attempting to revive and preserve Somerville's "small town" neighborhood environments by supporting local business, public transit, and gardens.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 4.2 square miles (11 km2), of which 4.1 square miles (11 km2) is land and 0.1 square miles (0.26 km2) (2.61%) is water.
Squares and neighborhoods
- Assembly Square
- Ball Square
- Brickbottom District (north of McGrath Highway, south of Inner Belt District)
- Davis Square (considered West Somerville)
- East Somerville (East of McGrath Highway, between Washington and Broadway Streets)
- Gilman Square (consisting of Medford Street and Pearl Street)
- Inner Belt District
- Magoun Square
- Nunnery Grounds (Mount Benedict)
- Powder House Square
- Prospect Hill (part of Union Square)
- Spring Hill
- Teele Square
- Ten Hills
- Union Square
- Wilson Square (Elm Street and Somerville Avenue)
- Winter Hill
The following are the "Seven Hills" of Somerville:
- Central Hill
- Clarendon Hill
- Cobble Hill
- Plowed Hill (or Mount Benedict)
- Prospect Hill (or Mount Pisgah)
- Spring Hill
- Winter Hill
Somerville has a mayor-city council form of municipal government. The Board of Aldermen consists of four at-large (city-wide) positions and seven ward representatives, where each ward is a specific section of the city.
The first Democratic mayor of the city was John J. Murphy in 1929. Every mayor prior, since 1872, had been unaffiliated with a party or Republican. Murphy succeeded on his seventh try by uniting the Irish, Italians, Greeks, and Portuguese communities. There were candlelit processions with thousands marching in rallies in the middle of Union Square and other squares in the city. The current mayor of Somerville is Joseph Curtatone.
Somerville is part of Massachusetts's 7th congressional district for purposes of elections to the United States House of Representatives. It is represented by Representative Mike Capuano, formerly mayor of Somerville from 1990 to 1999.
For representation to the Massachusetts Senate, Somerville is entirely within the "Second Middlesex" district. For representation to the Massachusetts House of Representatives, Somerville is part of the 26th, 27th, and 34th Middlesex districts. The 26th Middlesex district includes East Somerville, Brickbottom, and a portion of the Union Square area, as well as portions of Cambridge, The 34th Middlesex district includes Winter Hill and Teele Square, as well as portions of Medford. The remainder of the city, just over half, comprises the 27th Middlesex district, which does not extend outside Somerville.
|Voter Registration and Party Enrollment as of October 17, 2012|
|Party||Number of Voters||Percentage|
The Somerville Police Department is located at 220 Washington Street in Union Square. They respond to, investigate, prevent crime, and enforce traffic regulations within the city limits. They have divisions including patrol, neighborhood, special operations, auxiliary, K-9, detective, and the traffic units. The SPD operate both marked and unmarked patrol cars, motorcycles and bikes, paddy wagons, traffic enforcement SUVs, speed-monitoring trailers, and an emergency incident command truck.
The Somerville Fire Department is responsible for providing fire suppression, fire education, fire prevention, emergency medical services, hazardous materials, mitigation, and water, transportation, confined space, and trench rescue to the citizens. The SFD runs at basic life support emergency medical services level. They responds to approximately 9,000 emergency calls per year.
The School Committee is composed of seven independently elected officials, plus the Mayor and President of the Board of Aldermen. The budget is approved by both the School Committee and the Board of Aldermen.
Emergency medical services
The East Somerville Community School, which was temporarily closed after a fire in 2007, is undergoing demolition and reconstruction. It is tentatively scheduled to re-open in Fall 2013, where students are currently transferred to the nearby Edgerly and Capuano schools.
Also included in the school district is the Somerville Center for Adult Learning Experiences. The former Powder House Community School (which closed due to low enrollment in 2004) is being considered for redevelopment, either as a consolidated location for city offices if funding is obtained under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 or as some other type of development.
Though formally listed as being located in Medford, Tufts University is also located in Somerville. The Somerville–Medford line runs through Tufts' campus splitting the university's Tisch Library. The school employs many local residents and has many community service projects that benefit the city, especially those run through the Leonard Carmichael Society and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service.
With three branches, the Somerville Public Library offers residents a range of services and resources from books, movies, and music, to computer access, English conversation classes, and much more.
|* = population estimate.
Source: United States Census records and Population Estimates Program data.
Somerville has experienced dramatic gentrification since the Red Line of Boston's MBTA subway system was extended through Somerville in 1985, especially in the area between Harvard and Tufts. This was especially accelerated by the repeal of rent control in the mid-1990s followed directly by the dot-com bubble of the late 90s. Residential property values approximately quadrupled from 1991 to 2003, and the stock of rental housing decreased as lucrative condominium conversions become commonplace. This has led to tensions between long-time residents and recent arrivals, with many of the former accusing the latter of ignoring problems of working-class families such as drugs and gang violence.
Incidents such as anti-"yuppie" graffiti, appearing around town, have highlighted this rift. The economic clash between several areas of the city of Somerville and its neighboring cities of Boston, and in particular Cambridge, has created a culture of anti-intellectualism and anti-gentry sentiment that has spanned many generations. Symptoms of this include petty crime, and in some cases, violence against outsiders.
Recent years have seen the arrival of community groups such as Save Our Somerville (SOS), dedicated to improving relationships between old and new residents and ensuring that the concerns of the Somerville working class remain at the forefront of the city's political concerns. SOS in particular is headed by young residents of the city who claim to desire unity between all residents but also focus on the difficulties that young adults in Somerville face. They enjoy support from a number of well-known, local adults, including elected officials. Many such community-led groups find it difficult to attract wide support as many would-be advocates choose to move to other towns due to the density of the population or to the strong economic forces that have made Somerville an expensive city to live in.
Due to Somerville's close proximity to various institutions of higher education, the city has a constant influx of college students and young professionals, who reside in sections near Cambridge where Harvard University, Lesley University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are located and near Tufts University, which straddles the Somerville-Medford city line. The city is inhabited by blue collar Irish American, Italian American, and to a slightly lesser extent Portuguese American families, who are spread throughout the city. Immigrant families from Brazil, Haiti and El Salvador, primarily live in East Somerville, while those from South Korea, Nepal, and India, tend to reside in the Union Square area..
In November 1997, the Utne Reader named Davis Square in Somerville one of the 15 hippest places to live in the U.S. The article illustrates how Somerville is in an era of socioeconomic change shared by many other working-class and industrial areas of the country.
Somerville is home to a thriving arts community and boasts the second highest number of artists per capita in America.
As of the 2010 census, there were 75,754 people, 33,720 households, and 14,673 families residing in the city. The population density was 18,404.8 people per square mile (7,278.4/km²). There were 32,105 housing units at an average density of 7,909.1 per square mile (3,051.0/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 69.1% White, 6.8% African American, 0.3% Native American, 8.7% Asian, 0.06% Pacific Islander, 4.96% from other races, and 3.6% were multiracial. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.6% of the population.
There were 31,555 households out of which 18.8% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 32.2% were married couples living together, 10.3% had a female householder with no husband present, and 53.5% were non-families. 31% of all households were made up of individuals and 8.8% 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 3.06.
The population was spread out with 14.8% under the age of 18, 15.9% from 18 to 24, 42.6% from 25 to 44, 16.2% from 45 to 64, and 10.5% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 94.9 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 93.2 males.
The median income for a household in the city was $46,315, and the median income for a family was $51,243. Males had a median income of $36,333 versus $31,418 for females. The per capita income for the city was $23,628. About 8.4% of families and 12.5% of the population were below the poverty line, including 14.3% of those under age 18 and 13.6% of those age 65 or over.
Business and entertainment
Somerville's industrial past left behind many legacies, including the invention of Fluff by Archibald Query. In 1914, the city became the home of the original Economy Grocery Store, which later grew into the Stop & Shop grocery chain. Two related food service chains, Steve's Ice Cream and Bertucci's, sprung from adjacent lots in Davis Square. Assembly Square Marketplace is a popular center of business in the city.
Davis Square is home to the Somerville Theatre, which houses the Somerville branch of the Museum of Bad Art and plays host to the Independent Film Festival of Boston each spring. P.A.'s Lounge is a live music venue in the city.
Two major art studios, the Brickbottom Artists Building and the Joy Street Studios, are located in former industrial buildings in the Brickbottom district. The Brickbottom Artists Association has been hosting annual open studio events in the fall since 1987. Additionally, Artisan's Asylum on Tyler Street between Union and Porter squares is a hackerspace, where 150 members and 200 students have been participating in the maker culture since 2011.
The Somerville Arts Council and Somerville Open Studios both host annual events involving the community in homegrown arts. The Boston chapter of the Dorkbot community meets in Somerville at the Willoughby & Baltic studio,in the Brickbottom district.
Starting in 2006, an annual Fluff Festival has been held to celebrate the invention of Fluff in Somerville. "What the Fluff?" is produced by Union Square Main Streets and includes vendors, activities, entertainment and the crowning of the Pharaoh of Fluff.
Points of interest
George Dilboy Memorial Stadium is a multi-purpose public stadium in city. It is best known as the home of women's soccer club Boston Breakers, and is also home to the Boston Militia of Women's Football Alliance league. The stadium is named after George Dilboy, who was awarded the Medal of Honor during World War I.
Somerville has eighty-three places on the National Register of Historic Places. These places include various houses, libraries, parkways, churches, among other places, and have been declared landmarks within the city.
Paths and parks
The Somerville Community Path is a tree-lined rail trail that runs from Cedar Street to the Cambridge border near Davis Square. It connects with the Alewife Linear Park, which in turn connects with the Minuteman Bikeway and the Fitchburg Cutoff Path. Community activists hope to extend the path eastward to Lechmere Square, which would connect with the Charles River Bike Paths and the proposed East Coast Greenway. In May 2013, construction began on an extension of the path between Cedar and Lowell streets. As of 2010, the city has a total of 63 parks, playgrounds, playing fields, and community gardens.
Massachusetts Route 28 runs north and south through Somerville, separating East Somerville from the rest of the city. Rte. 28 is called "McGrath Highway" from Cambridge to Interstate 93, and it is called the "Fellsway" north of I-93 and on into Medford.
Interstate 93 runs northwest and southeast through Somerville, separating Ten Hills and Assembly Square from the rest of the city. This massive highway is elevated for almost its entire length through Somerville and runs directly alongside and/or above Mystic Avenue (Massachusetts Route 38).
Walking and bicycling
At present, rail transit serves periphery points of Somerville: to the northwest, Davis Square on the Red Line and to the southeast, Sullivan Square on the Orange Line at the border with Charlestown, providing easy access to Harvard Square and to downtown Boston. Porter Square (just over the Cambridge border) also has Red Line service and an MBTA Commuter Rail station, providing access to Boston's North Station and to locations westward on the Fitchburg Line.
Massachusetts state officials have agreed, both in court settlements and legislation, to extend the Green line rapid transit system through Somerville. This would bring rail transit service to the core sections of Somerville. This commitment was made, in part, to offset the additional burdens in traffic and pollution within the city due to completion of the Big Dig infrastructure. The Green Line Extension would be built along existing commuter rail rights-of-way, and would extend service to much of central Somerville, to Tufts University and surrounding areas of Medford, and (along a separate spur) to Union Square. Controversy has surrounded the repeated delays by the state in providing funding for the project, most recently when Governor Deval Patrick decided to delay work an additional two years in order to seek up to $300 million in federal financing for the project. This decision makes it unlikely that the previous completion date of 2014 will be met.
The city is served by buses that connect to these subway stations:
Local media and press
The city is served by a number of news sources, including:
- The Boston Globe (specifically its local edition Your Town Somerville)
- The Somerville Journal
- The Somerville News
- Somerville Beat
- Somerville Patch
- Somerville Scout
- Somerville Voices
- Robert A. Bruce, noted cardiologist and professor
- Mike Capuano, member of the House of Representatives and mayor of Somerville
- Richard Carle, actor
- Gosder Cherilus, National Football League player
- Hal Clement, author
- George Dilboy, Medal of Honor recipient
- Henry Kimball Hadley, composer and conductor
- Henry Oliver Hansen, raised the first flag in the Battle of Iwo Jima
- Alan Hovhaness, composer
- Jake Kilrain, noted boxer
- Jessica Meir, astronaut
- Connie Morella, member of the House of Representatives
- Jack Parker, head coach of the Boston University Terriers hockey team since 1973
- Bobby Pickett, composer of Monster Mash
- Harry Nelson Pillsbury, chess champion
- Archibald Query, inventor of Fluff
- Alex Rocco, actor
- Paul Sorrento, former Major League Baseball player
- Daniel Chapman Stillson, inventor of the modern adjustable pipe wrench
- Winter Hill Gang, noted crime group
- "The Model City". Boston.com. 2006-05-14. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Somerville Named All America City". Somervillema.gov. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- The History of Prospect Hill
- cf. Haskell, Albert L., "Haskell's Historical Guide Book of Somerville, Massachusetts", section on "Somerville: Why So Named".
- focus on: Paul Revere's ride
- New England's hidden history: more than we like to think, the North was built on slavery
- Christopher Klein (2012-04-15). "Paul Revere’s midnight ride — by day, in a car. Behind the wheel for Paul Revere’s ride - Travel". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Somerville Public Library
- Historical postcards of the raising of the Grand Union Flag in 1776.
- "SLUMERVILLE' NO MORE THE OFT-MALIGNED CITY HAS LAUNCHED A YEARLONG INITIATIVE TO REMAKE ITSELF AS A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE, WORK, AND SHOP". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "unknown". Realdealmafia.com.[dead link]
- Keane Jr., Thomas M. (2006-05-14). "The Model City". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 13 August 2011.
- Somerville City website
- Somerville Neighborhood Map
- 48 Reasons Why Somerville is GREAT (Finished for Now) « Greg’s Words of Wisdom
- Compare Google Maps streetview to historic postcard.
- Community Path-overview.pdf Somerville Community Path briefing, p. 5
- City Of Somerville - Somerville Historical Information
- City Of Somerville - Board of Aldermen
- Mason, Edward; Dwinell, Joe (September 8, 2009). "Capuano takes out papers for Ted K’s Senate seat". Boston Herald. Retrieved September 8, 2009.
- Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 57, Section 3 - Division of the state into senatorial districts
- Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 57, Section 3 - Division of the state into representative districts
- "Registration and Party Enrollment Statistics as of October 17, 2012" (PDF). Massachusetts Elections Division. Retrieved 2013-03-28.
- "Somerville Police Department". Somervillepolice.org. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Fire Department | City of Somerville Website". Somervillema.gov. Retrieved 2012-06-26.
- "Somerville Public Schools - Our Schools". Somerville.k12.ma.us. 2012-04-04. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- Powers, Kathleen. "Three-alarm fire burns East Somerville Community School - Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 - Somerville Journal". Wickedlocal.com. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Microsoft Word - Mayor's Stimulus Letter.doc" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Leonard Carmichael Society at Tufts University". Ase.tufts.edu. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- The Somerville Public Library
- "TOTAL POPULATION (P1), 2010 Census Summary File 1". American FactFinder, All County Subdivisions within Massachusetts. United States Census Bureau. 2010.
- "Massachusetts by Place and County Subdivision - GCT-T1. Population Estimates". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1990 Census of Population, General Population Characteristics: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1990. Table 76: General Characteristics of Persons, Households, and Families: 1990. 1990 CP-1-23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1980 Census of the Population, Number of Inhabitants: Massachusetts". US Census Bureau. December 1981. Table 4. Populations of County Subdivisions: 1960 to 1980. PC80-1-A23. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "1950 Census of Population". 1: Number of Inhabitants. 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". 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". 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". 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". 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". Department of the Interior, Census Office. 1854. Pages 338 through 393. Populations of Cities, Towns, &c. Retrieved July 12, 2011.
- "The Somerville News Blog". Somervillenews.typepad.com. 2005-10-15. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "de beste bron van informatie over provost citywide. Deze website is te koop!". provost-citywide.org. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- Jay Walljasper and Daniel Kraker, "Hip Hot Spots: The 15 Hippest Places to Live". Utne Reader. November/December 1997.
- "About Somerville". City of Somerville. Retrieved 2013-03-22.
- Brickbottom Artists Association Website
- Social Web article on Brickbottom District
- Artisan's Asylum "Welcome" flyer
- "Somerville Arts Council". Somervilleartscouncil.org. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- "Somerville Open Studios". Somerville Open Studios. 2012-04-17. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- https://unionsquaremain.org/fluff-festival/ Fluff Festival
- arret Bencks (May 10, 2013). "Somerville community path extension breaks ground Monday". Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Somerville Parks". Retrieved 2011-09-17.
- "Somerville Museum. About the Museum". Somervillemuseum.org. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- 1 Westwood Rd (1970-01-01). "1 Westwood Rd, Somerville, MA". Maps.google.com. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
- Street map from City of Somerville website
- "Somerville - Neighborhoods, Photos, and Maps". Walkscore.com. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Bike Score of Somerville, MA". Walkscore.com. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "ResiStat: How do you get around Somerville?". Somervilleresistat.blogspot.com. 2013-06-06. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "City Of Somerville - Green Line Extension Info". Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- Cummings, Claire (2007-08-09). "Proponents rap delay to extend Green Line - The Boston Globe". Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- "State fully funds Green Line extension - Somerville News". Retrieved 2008-05-01.
- "Groundbreaking ceremony for Orange Line at Somerville's Assembly Square today". Wickedlocal.com. Somerville Journal. 2012-04-30. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- "Prospective astronaut from Maine always on a mission". Pressherald.com. Retrieved 2013-08-08.
- Drake, Samuel Adams. History of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, Volume 1 (A-H), Volume 2 (L-W) published 1879 and 1880. 572 and 505 pages. Somerville article by E.C.Booth in volume 2 pages 309-338. http://www.somervillelocal76.org/.* http://www.somervillema.gov/police-department/index.html.
- Dutton, E.P. Chart of Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay with Map of Adjacent Country. Published 1867.
- Lehr, Dick; Gerard O'Neil (2000). Black Mass:The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob. Public Affairs Press. pp. 8–84. ISBN 1-891620-40-1.
- Haskell, Albert L., Haskell's Historical Guide Book of Somerville, Massachusetts
- Ostrander, Susan A. Citizenship and Governance in a Changing City: Somerville, MA (Temple University Press; 2013) 190 pages; study of tensions between immigrants and a new middle class in politics and community activism
- Sammarco, Anthony Michael (1997). Images of America: Somerville. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0-7385-1290-7.
- Samuels, Edward Augustus; Kimball, Henry Hastings, "Somerville, past and present: an illustrated historical souvenir", Boston : Samuels & Kimball, 1897
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Somerville, Massachusetts.|
- Official website
- Somerville Chamber of Commerce
- Somerville Community Corporation
- Profile at City Data
- Somerville, Massachusetts travel guide from Wikivoyage