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Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Boston (New England)

BOSTON, the largest city of New England, the capital of Massachusetts and the county-seat of Suffolk co. It is situated at the Boston harbor and at the mouths of the Mystic and Charles rivers. It is also on the New York, New Haven and Hartford, and the Boston and Maine railroads. It has regular steamship communication to all important domestic and foreign points. The city has an area of 47.81 square miles. The city includes Boston proper, and the suburbs of East Boston, South Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, Charleston, Brighton, West Roxbury, and other outlying communities. Within a 50 mile radius of the city more people live than in any other similar area in the United States with the exception of New York. Old Boston or Boston proper occupies a peninsula of about 700 acres of uneven surface and contained originally three hills, known as Beacon, Copp and Fort. From these hills the place was called by the early settlers Trimountain, later changed to Tremont. Extending about two miles along the harbor and separated from Boston proper by an arm of it, is South Boston, containing large docks and warehouses. The city is connected with Charleston and Cambridge by several bridges. The harbor is an indentation of Massachusetts Bay, embracing about 75 square miles, with numerous arms, and containing many islands. The population of the city, according to the census of 1920 was 748,060. The estimated population of the metropolitan district in 1920 was 1,824,746. Within this metropolitan district are included Cambridge, Lynn, Waltham, Somerville, Maiden and other cities. Boston has one of the finest natural harbors of the world, with a water frontage of more than 40 miles, most of which is in active use for commercial purposes.

In the older portions of the city the streets are narrow and irregular, but since 1872, when the city was visited by a destructive fire, much has been done toward straightening them. The newer section built on recovered land on the Back Bay and the Fenway are far more regular and handsome in appearance. The financial center of the city is State street. The retail center is on Washington, Tremont, and Winter streets. On High and the neighboring streets are the boot and shoe markets. The wholesale dry goods establishments are on Franklin, Chauncey, Summer, and neighboring streets. The suburbs of the city are exceedingly attractive because of their natural beauty and notable buildings.

Boston is the center of the largest shoe and textile manufacturing community in the world. It is the commercial metropolis of New England and is the greatest wool and leather market in the United States. It has also a large commerce in grain, cotton, iron, steel products, sugar, flour, hides and leather, and meats and dairy products. The manufactures include boots and shoes, foundry and machine-shop products, musical instruments, machinery, clothing, iron ware, books, brass goods, confectionery, rubber goods, and many others. It is also the greatest fish market in the world. There were in 1917 2,653 industrial establishments. The value of the products of industry in 1918 was $522,646,032. The capital invested in the same year was $281,497,115. The average number of wage earners employed was 88,763. The total amount paid in wages in 1917 was $68,002,939. The value of the exports of the city in 1919 was $334,554,031, and of the imports $299,364,999, or a total trade of $633,919,030. Boston ranks second among the cities of the United States as a shipping center and has an important seaport. It ranks fourth in the total of foreign trade, in the amount of bank clearings, assessed valuation, and population. It ranks eighth in the value of the manufactured products. The chief exports are iron and steel products, meat and dairy products, breadstuffs, boots, shoes, and leather, metal, cotton and cotton products, rubber products, paper, chemical products, and dyes. The chief imports are wool, cotton, hides and skins, fiber products, sugar and molasses, chemicals, drugs and dyes, leather and fish.

In 1919 Boston was the richest community per capita in the United States. The total assessed valuation of the city in that year was $1,528,165,778.

Boston is noted for its magnificent park system. There are within the city limits 24 large parks and 42 separate playgrounds, with a total of 327 acres. There are in addition 14 playgrounds and parks with an area of 155 acres. There are also 75 smaller parks and squares, making a total of 2,688.5 acres. The cost of the main park system from 1877 is $11,788,065. The largest park is Franklin Park, named for Benjamin Franklin, containing 527 acres, of which about 80 are occupied by the zoological gardens. There are also within the city limits 958 acres of metropolitan parks and parkways under State control, the largest of which is Stony Brook Reservation in West Roxbury. The most noted parks within the city limits are the Common and the Public Garden. These contain many memorials, including statues of Washington, Edward Everett, and others.

A view of Tremont Street, Boston Common, and the State House, Boston, Mass.
A view of Tremont Street, Boston Common, and the State House, Boston, Mass.
The school system has always been noted for its excellence. Boston spent more per capita for school purposes than any other city in the United States. There is an extensive system of kindergarten and primary grade schools, besides a large number of secondary schools. There were in 1920, 264 permanent school buildings, and 137 portable houses. There were 3,413 teachers in all the schools. The number of pupils registered in the day schools in 1919 was 122,452, in the evening schools 8,260, and in the continuation schools were registered 9,651. The valuation of the school property was $27,670,000, and the cost of maintenance was $7,373,499. The institutions for higher education in the city included Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston University, the New England Conservatory of Music, and Simmons College and Boston College. Within the metropolitan area are Harvard University and Tufts College. Among the notable and historical buildings in the city are the State House on Beacon Hill, the Boston Atheneum on Beacon street, a Masonic temple on the corner of Tremont and Boylston streets, the Public Library in Copley Square, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Copley Square. The Public Library is one of the largest and best equipped in the United States. It contained in 1920 1,197,498 volumes, of which about 300,000 were in the branch libraries. The city is well equipped with theaters and other public buildings. There were in 1919 39 theaters. The Mechanics' Building on Huntington avenue seats 4,350 people, the Boston Opera House 3,000, the Symphony Hall 2,569, and Tremont Temple 2,441.

Old North Church, Boston, Mass.
Old North Church, Boston, Mass.
Among the buildings which date from colonial times and are of great historical value are Faneuil Hall, known as the cradle of liberty, and erected in 1742; the Old State House, erected in 1748; the Old South Church, the Old North Church, and Kings Chapel.

The city has excellent transportation facilities, which include surface, underground, and elevated railroads. The Tremont street subway, opened in 1897, was the first municipal subway in the United States. There are now completed the East Boston tunnel, Washington street tunnel, the Cambridge connection subway, the Boylston street subway, the East Boston tunnel extension, and the Dorchester tunnel. The total approximate cost of all subways and tunnels is $36,000,000.

There are 345 churches of all denominations, including Roman Catholic, 65; Jewish, 38; Baptist, 35; Congregational, 36; Unitarian, 24; Methodist Episcopal, 31; Protestant Episcopal, 36; Lutheran, 12; and Presbyterian, 11. The mother church of the Christian Scientists is located in Boston and is one of the most beautiful structures in the city.

Old South Church, Boston, Mass.
Old South Church, Boston, Mass.
There were in 1920 15 National banks, with an aggregate capital of $28,959,000. There were also 30 trust companies with a capital of $26,901,100. The total resources of the National banks were $601,284,213. There were 24 savings banks with deposits of $341,215,952. The city is the seat of a branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.

The net funded debt of the city in 1919 was $82,287,030. The tax rate was $2.12.

Boston was settled in 1630 by a party of Puritans from Salem. It was named after a town in Lincolnshire, England, from which most of the colonists had come. In 1632 the first meeting house was erected, and in 1635 a public school was built. In the same year the first grand jury in the country met here. A memorable massacre occurred here in 1770, and in 1773 several cargoes of English tea were thrown overboard in the harbor by citizens exasperated by the imposition of taxes. During the early part of the Revolution the British were quartered in the town. The battle of Bunker Hill was fought on Breed's Hill, within the present city limits, June 17, 1775. Washington forced the British to evacuate in 1776. The city charter was granted in 1822, and in 1872 a great fire broke out in the business portion of the city and destroyed about 65 acres of buildings. This part of the city was soon rebuilt, and, since then, Boston has been one of the most prosperous cities in the United States.