Arlington Massachusetts, 1890


Arlington
is a pleasant suburban town in the southeastern part of Middlesex County, five miles northwest of Boston, to which it is easily accessible by street railroads and by the steam cars of the Boston and Lowell system. On the north of it is Winchester ; on the opposite side of the beautiful Mystic Pond of 232 acres is Medford, which, with Somerville and Cambridge, forms a crescent boundary on the east ; while on the southwest is Belmont, and on the west, Lexington. Arlington and Arlington Heights are the post-offices, also villages and railway stations with Brattle Station and Lake Street.

Sienite is the principal underlying rock coming into view. The land is level in the southeastern part, but rises from the middle of the town northeast and southwest to an elevation of about 360 feet above sea-level, about which is the village of Arlington Heights (formerly Circle Hill). There are a pretty church, good public schools, and upwards of 80 dwellings, with several societies or associations. It is a most convenient health resort. These heights are remarkable and delightful for the magnificent sweep of view, embracing the city of Boston with its familiar landmarks, the forests of Middlesex Fells, the mass of buildings forming the Danvers Asylum; the dim line of the beaches, the more distant Boston and Minot's Ledge lighthouses, the Blue Hills at the southeast, the high hills of Waltham four miles distant at the southwest. Westward thirty miles is Mount Wachusett ; northwest forty miles away is the haystack form of Watatic Mountain ; more to the north Monadnock lifts higher still the dim line between the earth and the sky. Next come a succession of the northward hills of Massachusetts, and the minor and nearer New Hampshire mountains ; then the gaze comes back to the winding Charles, to Fresh Pond in Belmont and Cambridge, and to Spy Pond at our feet in Arlington. This pretty sheet of water, of 150 acres, formerly furnished some water-power on its outlet, but is now drawn upon too heavily by the waterworks for such use. There are, however, some manufactures in the town, as musical instruments, cordage and twine, leather, metallic and wooden goods, carriages, food preparations, and others. The last named yield the largest return, the figures for 1885 being $118,575 ; wooden goods coming next, at $57,488 ; building and stonework, $54,793 ; wood and metal products, including carriages, $84,200 ; making in the aggregate, $419,298. The population in 1885 was 4,673; when there were 898 dwelling-houses in the town, but only seventy-nine farms. These contain scarcely half the assessed area, which is 2,853 acres, embracing 196 acres of woodland. Much of the agricultural area is used for market gardens, to supply the Boston market, The largest crop is vegetables, which in 1885 was $285,427 ; the total farm product being $334,470. The valuation, in 1888, was $5,133,554, with a tax of $16.25 on $1,000. The Arlington Five Cent Savings Bank had, on January 1, 1889, deposits to the amount of $975,772. There is a good town hall. The water-works have cost about a third of a million, and the fire department is fully equipped.

A large proportion of its inhabitants are occupied through the day in or about the business centre of the region, and are an active, social and kindly people. The town has graded schools, with six excellent buildings and other school property to the value of $79,875. There are seven libraries, containing nearly 15,000 volumes, of which the town public library has in its fine building about 10,000 ; the public schools nearly 1,000 ; the balance being made up by the Sunday-school libraries, The "Arlington Advocate," with its office, has a good patronage considering its nearness to a large city.

There are churches of six religious denominations here : the Baptist, organized in 1781 ; the Congregationalist, in 1842; the Protestant Episcopal (St. John's), in 1875 ; the First Congregational Parish (Unitarian), in 1733 ; the Universalist, in 1842; and there is also a numerous Roman Catholic Congregation, under the name of Saint Malachi.

The locality now bearing the name of Arlington was originally known as Menotomy, from Menotomy River (now known as Alewive Brook), which, for a number of years, was the boundary line between the first and second parishes in Cambridge. This western parish was, in 1807, incorporated as the town of West Cambridge, the name being changed to Arlington in 1867. Part of Charlestown was annexed to it in 1842 ; in 1850 a part of it was taken with other territory to form Winchester ; in 1859 another portion was taken to form Belmont ; and in 1862 it received an addition from the parent town of Cambridge. The first church was organized here in 1733.

Arlington sent 295 men into the army and navy of the Union in the last War. There were, in 1885, 38 residents who were over 80 years of age, which is further confirmation of the wholesomeness of the place. The summer house of the late Hon. Edward Everett is in this town, below the bluffs on the western shore of Mystic lake; and the popular author Mr. John T. Trowbridge has a residence nearby. It is also the residence of Governor John, Q. A. Brackett. Ebenezer Smith Thomas, an able journalist and author, was born here in 1775; and Convers Francis, D.D., was born here in 1795, and died in Cambridge in 1863.

pp.   in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890

Gazetteer