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Medford is a city in Middlesex Countymarker, Massachusettsmarker, in the United Statesmarker, on the Mystic River, five miles northwest of downtown Bostonmarker. In the 2000 census, Medford's population was 55,765. It is the home of Tufts Universitymarker.



Medford was settled in 1630 as part of Charlestownmarker, when Thomas Dudley referred to it as "Mistick" (a name which persisted for many decades), which his party renamed "Meadford". In 1634, the land north of the Mystic River became the private plantation of former Governor Matthew Cradock; across the river was Ten Hills Farmmarker, which belonged to John Winthrop, Governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The name may have come from a description of the "meadow by the ford" in the Mystic River, or from two locations that Cradock may have been familiar with in England: the hamlet of Mayford or Metford in Staffordshire near Caverswallmarker, or from the parish of Maidford or Medford (now Towcestermarker, Northamptonshiremarker).

In 1637, the first bridge (a toll bridge) across the Mystic River was built at the site of the present-day Cradock Bridge, near Medford Square. It would be the only bridge across the Mystic until 1787, and as such became a major route for traffic coming into Boston from the north (though ferries and fords were also used).

Until 1656, all of northern Medford was owned by Cradock, his heirs, or Edward Collins. Medford was governed as a "peculiar" or private plantation. As the land began to be divided among several people from different families, the new owners began to meet and make decisions locally and increasingly independently from the Charlestown town meeting. In 1674, a Board of Selectmen was elected, in 1684, the colonial legislature granted the ability to raise money independently, and in 1689, a representative to the legislature was chosen. The town got its own religious meeting room in 1690, and a secular meeting house in 1696.

1700s and 1800s

The land south of the Mystic River was known as "Mistick Field". It was transferred from Charlestown to Medford in 1754. This grant also included the "Charlestown Wood Lots" (the Medford part of the Middlesex Fells), and part of what was at the time Woburnmarker (now Winchestermarker). Parts of Medford were transferred to Charlestown in 1811, Winchester in 1850 ("Upper Medford"), and Malden in 1879. Additional land was transferred to Medford from Malden (1817), Everett (1875), and Malden (1877) again.

The population of Medford went from 230 in 1700 to 1,114 in 1800. After 1880, the population rapidly expanded, reaching 18,244 by 1900. Farmland was divided into lots and sold to build residential and commercial buildings, starting in the 1840s and 1850s; government services expanded with the population (schools, police, post office) and technological advancement (gas lighting, electricity, telephones, railways). Tufts University was chartered in 1852.

Medford was incorporated as a city in 1892 and was a center of industry, including the manufacture of brick and tile, rum, Medford Crackers, and clipper ships.


During the 1600s, a handful of major public roads (High Street, Main Street, Salem Street, "the road to Stoneham", and South Street) served the population, but the road network started a long-term expansion in the 1700s. The Medford Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1803, but turned what is now Mystic Avenue over to the city in 1866. The Andover Turnpike Company was incorporated in 1805, but turned what is now Forest Street and Fellsway West over to Medford in 1830.

Other major commercial transportation projects included the Middlesex Canal by 1803, the Boston and Lowell Railroad in West Medford in the 1830s, and the Boston and Maine Railroad to Medford Center in 1847.

A horse-powered street railway began running to Somerville and Charlestown in 1860. The street railway network expanded in the hands of various private companies, and went electric in the late 1890s, when trolleys to Everett and downtown Boston were available. Streetcars were converted to buses in the 1900s. Interstate 93 was constructed between 1956 and 1963.

Gypsy moth

In 1868, a French astronomer and naturalist, Leopold Trouvelot, was attempting to breed a better silkworm using Gypsy moths. Several of the moths escaped from his home, at 27 Myrtle Street, which no longer exists. Within ten years, the insect had denuded the vegetation in the neighborhood. It spread over North America.

Holiday songs

In a tavern and boarding house on High Street (Simpson's Tavern) in the late 19th century, local resident James Pierpont wrote "Jingle Bells" after watching a sleigh race from Medford to Maldenmarker. Another local resident, Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880), made a poem out of the trip across town to her grandparents' house, now the classic song "Over the River and Through the Woods".

Other notables

Medford was home to Fannie Farmer, author of one of the world's most famous cookbooks—as well as James Plimpton, the man credited with the 1863 invention of the first practical four-wheeled roller skate, which set off a roller craze that quickly spread across the United States and Europe.

Amelia Earhart lived in Medford, while working as a social worker in 1925.

"The Black Dahlia", the infamous Hollywood murder victim, was born in Hyde Park (the southernmost neighborhood of the city of Bostonmarker, Massachusetts) but raised in Medford before going to the West Coast looking for fame.

The Peter Tufts house (350 Riverside Ave.) is thought to be the oldest all-brick building in New England. Another important site is the "Slave Wall" on Grove Street, built by "Pomp," a slave owned by the prominent Brooks family.

Medford has sent more than its share of athletes to the National Hockey League; Shawn Bates, though born in Melrose, MAmarker grew up in Medford, as did Keith Tkachuk, Mike Morrison and Joe Sacco. Former Red Sox Pitcher Bill Monbouquette grew up in Medford.

Medford is home to some of New England's most well-known bakeries and Italian restaurants and delis.

Medford was home to Michael Bloomberg, American businessman, philanthropist, and the founder of Bloomberg L.P., who is currently serving as the Mayor of New York City. Mayor Bloomberg attended Medford High School and resided in Medford until after he graduated from college. His mother remains a resident of Medford.

In Medford is located the only cryobank of amniotic stem cells in the United States, built by Biocell Center, a biotechnology company led by Giuseppe Simoni.

Medford is an excellent place to view the Mystic River on a fall eve.

Medford and the law

Medford is home to some famous crimes:
  • A few crooked officers of the Medford Police and MDC forces pulled off one of the biggest bank robberies and jewel heists in world history in 1980, robbing the Depositors Trust bank over the Memorial Day weekend. The book The Cops Are Robbers: A Convicted Cop's True Story of Police Corruption is based upon this event.
  • An admitted Mob execution by Somervillemarker's Irish Winter Hill Gang of Joe Notarangeli took place at the "Pewter Pot" cafe in Medford Square."Black Mass: The Irish Mob, the Boston FBI and a Devil's Deal, "Dick Lehr (author), Gerard O'Neill (author) Publisher and ISBN needed


Medford is located at (42.419996, −71.107942).

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 8.6 square miles (22.4 km²), of which, 8.1 square miles (21.1 km²) of it is land and 0.5 square miles (1.3 km²) of it (5.79%) is water.

A park called the Middlesex Fells Reservation1 straddles the city's northern boundary. This preserve is shared by Medford with the municipalities of Winchestermarker, Stonehammarker, Melrosemarker, Maldenmarker and Arlingtonmarker. The Mystic River flows roughly west to southeast through the middle of the city.


People from Medford often identify themselves with a particular neighborhood.


At one time the majority of Medford's population were Italian American families, many of whom lived in the South Medford neighborhood of the city. Irish-Americans also are a strong presence in the city and live in all areas. West Medford, the most affluent of Medford's many neighborhoods, was once the bastion of some of Boston's elite families—including the Brooks family, in-laws to the Adams family—and is also home to an historic African-American neighborhood that dates to the Civil War.

As of the census of 2000, there were 55,765 people, 22,067 households, and 13,505 families residing in the city. The population density was 6,851.3 people per square mile (2,645.1/km²). There were 22,687 housing units at an average density of 2,787.3/sq mi (1,076.1/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 86.45% White, 6.10% African American, 0.11% Native American, 3.87% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 1.14% from other races, and 2.30% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 2.59% of the population.

There were 22,067 households out of which 23.6% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 45.6% were married couples living together, 11.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.8% were non-families. 28.7% 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 2.43 and the average family size was 3.04.

In the city the population was spread out with 17.9% under the age of 18, 11.0% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 21.2% from 45 to 64, and 17.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 88.2 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 85.2 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $52,476, and the median income for a family was $62,409. Males had a median income of $41,704 versus $34,948 for females. The per capita income for the city was $24,707. About 4.1% of families and 6.4% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.7% of those under age 18 and 7.4% of those age 65 or over.

Medford has three Public Access television stations: TV3, Channel 15 (educational access) and Channel 16 (governmental or municipal access).


Local Government

  • Michael J. McGlynn, Mayor
  • Edward P. Finn, City Clerk


Numerous Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority bus lines go through Medford. On Medford's east side, Wellington stationmarker on the Orange Line provides a connection to Boston and the entire rapid transit system. On the west side, the Lowell Commuter Rail Line stops in West Medford Squaremarker.

Discussion of bringing the Green Line into Medford, as is mandated by environmental mitigation provisions of the Big Digmarker project, is ongoing. On February 2, 2009, the state formally endorsed extending the Green Line through Medford, terminating near the intersection of Boston Avenue and Mystic Valley Parkway (Massachusetts Route 16). As proposed, the terminus would not have parking facilities. The extension would serve an additional 10,000 potential Green Line riders.

Joseph's Limousine and Transportation (located in Medford) runs a bus line through the city, and also picks up passengers going to other parts of Greater Boston or out of state.

Interstate 93 travels roughly north-south through the city. State routes passing through Medford include 16, 28, 38, and 60

Points of interest

Notable residents

See also


Further reading

1852 map of Boston area showing Medford and rail lines.

External links

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