The History Of Boston

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					                     THE HISTORY OF BOSTON

This essay is divided into two parts; historical Boston and present-day
Boston. The historical portion explains important events that have
helped make Boston the city it is today while the present-day portion
explains about the areas of Boston; what they are like now, the
attractions that they currently have and a little history.

                        HISTORICAL BOSTON:

Boston is known for its Harvard University, the Red Socks and of
course baked beans but there is so much more to Boston than that.
Boston is also home to many well known people like Paul Revere,
Benjamin Franklin, Matt Damon and Mark Wahlberg just to name a few.

Shawmut, as Boston was first called by the Algonquin Indians, is most
commonly believed to mean “Living Waters.” On September 7, 1630, it
was renamed Boston after a port city in England where many of the
first settlers where from.

The city’s first resident was Rev. William Blaxton who came to America
with Robert George’s expedition to Weymouth in 1623. When George’s
colony failed, all went back to England except for Blaxton who had a
desire to be alone. Blaxton, who was an Anglican clergyman and skilled
agriculturist, lived alone on Beacon Hill close to where Beacon Street is
now. He felt as if any neighbor closer than Mishawum, which is now
referred to as Charlestown, was to close. But when he heard that John
Winthrop’s newly established colony in Charlestown was going through
problems due to lack of water supply, he invited them to join him on
Beacon Hill. Shortly after the colony went across the Charles River and
soon began building housing. Anne Pollard, who was ten years old at the
time, was the first of the colonist to step off of the boat on to Boston
soil. Eventually, William Blaxton sold his land to the colony and moved
to Rhode Island.

In 1636, the first college in America was founded. It was named after
John Harvard of Charlestown who was its first benefactor. When he
died two years later, he left half of his estate and his library
collection to the new school.

Other highlights in the history of Boston include when Quakers were
persecuted in the 1650’s and 1660’s. In 1691, Massachusetts officially
became a Great Britain colony. The first successful newspaper in
America called The Boston News-Letter was published in 1704.

In 1733, the Molasses Act or Sugar and Molasses Act which taxed
colonists on non-British sugar, rum and molasses was passed. Thirty
years later, colonists refuse to pay their taxes because they had no
representatives in Parliament. The Parliament claimed that they were
“virtually” represented but the colonist said that the “virtual
representatives” knew nothing about America. Thus the famous phrase
“no taxation without representation” was created, though there is
contradicting information about who originally said the phrase, but
some believe it was James Otis, the governor of Boston at the time.

In 1768, John Hancock organized a boycott of teas from China sold by
the East India Trading Company. Their sales went from 320,000
pounds to 520 pounds which caused them to have a large amount of
debt and many crates of unsold tea sitting in their warehouse. No one
would buy from them because colonist could get the tea cheaper
through smugglers and colonial merchants. Smugglers could sell the
tea cheaper because they didn’t pay import taxes on them and the
colonist did not have to pay for taxes on the smuggled teas. Because of
this, the British government passed the Tea Act in May 1773, which
was strictly enforced unlike the Molasses Act. The Tea Act caused the
East India Company to sell tea to the colonies cheaper than the
smugglers by not having to pay colonial taxes. Almost all of the
American ports turned the tea away and prevented the ships from
docking but British-appointed governor Thomas Hutchinson and the
East India Trading Company worked to bring tea in by force protected
by British ships.

On November 29, 1773, Edward Garrick who was a wigmaker’s assistant
told a British officer named Captain John Goldfinch that he was late
paying his barber’s bill. Since Goldfinch had already paid his overdue
bill that day, he remained silent. Garrick had been complaining to him
for an hour until Private Hugh White, a British sentry, knocked him
over the head. The people who were with Garrick yelled at White but
another officer chased them away only to have them return with more
angry people who were yelling and throwing snowballs. White had
reinforcements sent in to control what was now a mob. Some sailors
with firewood directly confronted the solders as steeple bells rang.
Private Hugh Montgomery was hit by a large piece of ice which caused
him to fall to the ground. He shot his rifle into the air and yelled fire
as all but one man fired at the crowd killing five men and wounding six.
The men who died were Samuel Gray who was a rope maker, mariner
James Caldwell, sailor Crispus Attucks, seventeen-year-old Samuel
Maverick who died the next day and Patrick Carr who was an Irish
immigrant died two weeks later. The next day, all troops were removed
from the center of the town and went to a fort on Castle Island in
Boston Harbor as authorities decided. Bostonians and local news
papers were the first to label this event a massacre.

On Thursday, December 16, 1773, Samuel Adams, John Hancock and
the Sons of Liberty, a radical group who opposed the Stamp Act,
gathered in the Old South Meeting House to organize an event that
would forever change the way we look at the early history of our
country. That night they raided three East India Trading Company
ships, the Dartmouth, the Eleanor and the Beaver in the Boston Harbor.
They disguised themselves as Indians to avoid charges as they dumped
342 crates of tea into the sea which would be a loss of three-million
dollars in today’s money. This was done in rebellion against the
Parliament for enforcing taxes on tea and other items without any

During the time of the Revolutionary War, the Declaration of
Independence was signed. It was first read in Boston on July 18, 1776.
The next milestone for Boston and for America was in 1783 when the
Treaty of Paris was signed which states that America has it’s
independence. Towards the late 1700’s, Boston’s economy rapidly grows
and by 1800 the population reaches 25,000. As the city grows, so does
its transportation methods when the first railroad connects Boston to
Quincy in 1816. On January 7, 1822 the townspeople decided to
officially declare Boston as a city.

In 1847, Boston became home to 37,000 Irishmen out of the million
who came to America to escape the potato famine in Ireland. Boston by
far had the largest amount of Irish immigrants but it was the least
welcoming city as many Bostonians criticized the Irish for their
outdated fashion. The poor areas of the North End were where the
immigrants immediately found a place to stay. Many Boston landlords
charged each Irish family as much as $1.50 a week to live in a small
usually rodent infested house with no water or windows of any kind.
Other immigrants found shelter in yards, gardens, alleys, warehouses
and cellars that flooded often. Because of the many diseases, most
Irish would die after about six years of living in America and children
didn’t live much longer after being born. The Boston Committee of
Internal Health didn’t care about their living conditions, only their
manners as implied by an employee studying the situation.
Many Irishmen earned their money by unloading ships or taking care of
houses and farms. They were willing to work for much less than the
average $1.00 a day Americans earned because they were used to only
earning about $0.08 a day in Ireland. Bostonians felt competitive for
jobs since the Irish would work for a lower pay so many “No Irish Need
Apply” signs were put up in business windows. Many Irish who couldn’t
find work started drinking which lead to violence as the crime rate
went up with as much as 400% for aggravated assault.

As the population grows to 137,000 by 1850, the city’s economy begins
to flourish in the shipping business, railroading, manufacturing and
financial jobs. In 1865, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

On November 9, 1872 at 7:20 p.m. a fire started in a warehouse at the
intersection of Summer Street and Kingston Street. The fire became
so large that it was visible from ships off the coast of Maine.
Concerned citizens used gunpowder to blowup buildings in the path of
the rapidly spreading fire to attempt to stop it but just caused more
problems. After 12 hours, the fire was put out. It caused $75.2 million
of damage, destroyed 776 buildings, 65 acres, most of the financial
district, left thousands homeless and killed about 20 people. The
burned district of the city was quickly built back in a little over two

In the years 1630 through 1890, Boston became three times larger in
land size after filling in tidewater flats and marshes in the Charles
River with dirt and gravel. Much of the dirt used was taken from the
top of Beacon Hill and after the Great Fire of Boston, rubble was used
as landfill to make what is now Boston’s Back Bay. The filling in of the
Back Bay began in 1857 and was completed in 1882. During this time,
gravel was brought in by nine train cars that arrived ever 45 minutes,
24/7. This reclamation would not be possible nowadays due to modern
environmental regulations.

In the late 1800’s, Boston saw many technical advancements. In 1882,
The Hotel Vendrom was the first public place to use electric lights. In
1889, electric trolleys replaced horse drawn carriages and the first
streetcar subway was in Boston. During the 1950’s, there was a rapid
increase in Boston’s electronic industry and by 1980, the city already
had become a hub for many commercial and industrial enterprises and
the home of fifty-six colleges and universities.

                       PRESENT-DAY BOSTON:

                              BACK BAY:

The tallest building in Boston is the John Hancock Tower which ranks
131st in the worlds tallest buildings. This building designed by Henry
Cobb is quite well known for its architectural flaws. The first of many
problems began when the temporary foundation failed to hold out mud
and clay as it was being built. This caused damage to underground pipes
and nearby buildings, including the historic Trinity Church, which is
right next to it. Shortly after the building was finished, the 500 pound,
4’ x 11’ glass windows started to come off of the building and shatter
unto the streets below. This led police to close the surrounding area
whenever there were 45 mph winds. What caused this was not released
to the public but most people believe it was because of the difference
in interior and exterior temperature combined with the type of
windows used. In October 1973, plywood was used to patch up where
the windows once were until heat-treated windows could be installed.
Thus the John Hancock Tower was called “the worlds tallest plywood
building” and nicknamed “Plywood Palace.” The cost of the repairs were
between $5 million and $7 million, much more than the cost of the $3
million damper that was installed on the 58th floor to fix the buildings’
swaying. The observation tower at the top was a popular tourist
attraction until September 11 when it was closed.

The Berkeley Building which is commonly referred to as “the old John
Hancock building,” is a 26 story weather beacon completed in 1947. Its
spire has red and blue lights to warn people of upcoming weather. This
rhyme is commonly used in reference to it;

“Steady blue, clear view.
Flashing blue, clouds due.
Steady red, rain ahead.
Flashing red, snow instead.”

Although, flashing red also means a Red Socks game has been canceled
due to weather conditions.

The first of the three John Hancock buildings is the Stephen L. Brown
building which was built in 1922. It is the least popular of the three
and was once considered to be destroyed but it still stands today.

The Trinity Church which was official declared a National Historic
Landmark on December 30, 1970. The original building was destroyed in
the Great Fire of Boston but it was immediately rebuild and completed
in 1877. The style of this building was the first of its kind and was
voted the United States’ most important building in 1885 by architects.
Not only is Trinity Church the only building that was from the original
American Institute of Architects top ten list of the most significant
buildings in the United States but it is the only church and the only
building in Boston on the list.

Another popular landmark in the Back Bay area is the Boston Public
Library which is the world’s third largest library. It houses a large a
collection of original art, old manuscripts, out-of-print books, maps and
photographs. The building was finished in 1848.

The Old South Meeting House is the second oldest building in the
United States. When it has been used for political meetings, it is
referred to as the Old South Meeting House but when it is used for
religious services, it is called The Old South Church. Many historic
figures have been in the congregation, some of which including Samuel
Adams, William Dawes, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Sewall, and Phillis
Wheatley. The church is well known for its architecture. It was
completed in 1727 and it was where the Boston Tea Party was
organized in 1773. It was almost destroyed in the Great Fire of Boston
but was saved by townspeople with wet blankets. Its tower, which
contains a 2020 pound bell, can be seen from several parts of Boston.
The original 1875 tower began to fall apart due to bad footings and the
fact that it was build in over what was once a swampland. It was
dismantled and rebuilt in the 1930’s. The height and pitch of the tower
are currently yearly checked to make sure it is stable. The rope that
held the tower’s original bell recently began to degenerate but the bell
was restored in September 2006 by reconstructing the original 1931
bell wheel.

The Old North Church was built in 1723 and inspired by the works of
the man who rebuilt areas of London after the Great Fire. This church
is well known for a historic event that occurred on April 18, 1775. Paul
Revere ordered two lanterns to be put in the steeple to send a warning
to Patriots that the British were coming. Although Paul Revere and
William Dawes would travel to Lexington in person to deliver the news,
they still wanted the lanterns to be used incase they were captured
before they could get there. The steeple was rebuilt because the
original was destroyed in the Storm of October 1804 which was a
category three hurricane.
One of the most historic buildings in Boston is the Old State House. It
was built in 1713 and used as the first state house until 1798 when the
current one was built on Beacon Hill. In 1773, the Boston Massacre
took place in front of the Old State House and it is also where the
Declaration of Independence was first read in Boston. In 1830-1841,
the building was renovated to its original condition after it was
threatened to be moved to Chicago, Illinois

                            BEACON HILL:

Beacon Hill is a rich district with narrow roads and steep sidewalks. It
got its name from a bucket of tar that was placed atop the hill to be lit
incase of arriving enemies. The hill is much shorter than it was at the
time because much of the dirt was used to fill in the area surrounding

The Massachusetts State House which is the capitol of Massachusetts
was designed by Charles Bulfinch and completed January 11, 1798. In
the basement you can find John Hancock’s original farm house
foundation. His family sold his land to the state to play off his debt.
Many expansions and renovations have been made to the State House
over the years. The first expansion was in the back of the building in
1831. The exterior was painted a gold color over its previous white in
1855 but in 1928, the paint was removed and has stayed that way. The
dome was originally coved with wooden shingles but began to leak so
Paul Revere’s company covered it with a thick layer of copper and was
soon after painted gold. It was later painted gray during World War II
to prevent enemy ships in the harbor from aiming at it but is now back
to its original color of gold. The top of the dome has a pine cone to
remind people that the first buildings were build out of pine trees.

Near Beacon Hill is the popular Boston Common and Boston Public
Garden. The Public Garden was created in 1837 and was the first
botanical public garden in the United States. The Boston common was
the first park in the United States. Until 1820, it was used as a public
area to punish or kill people. There was a large elm in the middle of the
Common that Quakers, Indians, witches, pirates, thieves ext. were
hung from. This land was also used for public cattle grazing but that
ceased in 1830. There is a law that enforces cows to graze the Common
once a year. So there is a yearly Boston Common Dairy Festival.
Through out the years the Common has been used for various events
like horse racing, solider training, fireworks and speeches.

Kidding Around Boston by Helen Byers
Untied States History: Heritage of Freedom by Pensacola Christian
History of the Great Fire in Boston by Col. Russell H. Conwell
Eyewitness Travel Guides: Boston by Tom Bross, Patricia Harris and
David Lyon

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Description: essay on the history of the city of Boston, MA