Chelsea Massachusetts, 1890
CHELSEA is a beautiful and growing city in the northern part of Suffolk County, inhabited largely by people whose daily business is in Boston, — from whose several northern parts it is separated only by the waters of Chelsea Creek and the Mystic and Charles rivers, which here meet and mingle with the sea, forming an extension of the harbor proper. Everett, the only town from which it is not separated by water, lies on the northwest; Revere, the northern town of the county, is on the northeast; Breed's Island, the northeastern extremity of Boston, lies directly east; the high island of East Boston occupies a southeast position; and the promontory of Charlestown lies at the southwest, separated from it by Mystic River.
The assessed area is 961 acres; and in this are upwards of 30 miles of streets. Many of these are shaded by well-grown elms and maples. The city has excellent water-works, — drawing from the Mystic River department of the Boston Water-works. It has also a well equipped fire-department, and an extensive system of sewerage. A street railway connects with the Charlestown district over a broad carriage bridge, thence by another with Boston proper. The same line, passing in the other direction by bridges to East Boston, forms a land connection for that district with the city proper. Another extension northeastward through Chelsea furnishes a connection with Boston for Winthrop, Revere Beach and Lynn. By the Grand Junction Railway, whose line extends across the midst of the city to its extensive wharves in East Boston, it has easy access to all the railroads which radiate from the metropolis. There are also two ferries to Boston, with two boats each, constantly running in the day and evening; each boat having two commodious saloons for passengers and space for several carriages and carts,
The surface of the city is uneven, and rises into several gently swelling eminences, the most conspicuous of which is Powder-Horn Hill, whose summit is about 220 feet above sea-level. Upon this is situated the Soldiers' Home, an institution of the national government. The geological formation of the territory is drift and alluvium. The soil is rich, giving luxuriant growth in the gardens so generally attached to residences.
Though largely a place of suburban homes, it has quite a business of its own. The larger manufacturing establishments are the Magee Furnace Company, Suffolk Cordage Company, Forbes Lithographic Company, Low's Art-Tile Works, Eastern Elastic Gusset Company, Woven Hose Company, Chelsea Wire Works, brass works, several furniture factories, rubber factory, tanneries, boot and shoe factories, type foundery and printing offices, and others of less note. The food preparations amounted to $599,409; iron goods, $406,531; leather, $293,360; wooden goods, $244,291, and the aggregate of manufactures, $4,551,895. The valuation in 1888 was $19,781,480 with a tax-rate of $18.40 on $1,990. The First National Bank has a capital of $300,000. The Winnissimet National Bank was, in July 1889, authorized to commence business with $100,000 capital. Chelsea Savings Bank, at the close of last year, bad deposits to the amount of $2,068,933. The population by the last census (1885) was 25,709; voters, 6,116; and the number of dwellings, 4412.
[the United-States Marine Hospital, Chelsea.]
The city has excellent graded schools, occupying twelve buildings which have a value of about $260,000. There are seventeen libraries accessible to the public; of which the city public library has upwards of 10,000 volumes, and an association library about 6,000. The city has several bright weekly newspapers, — the " Church Bulletin and Temperance Advocate," "Chelsea Gazette," "Leader," Record," " Telegraph and Pioneer," the "Owl" and others. The churches are two Baptist, three Congregationalist, two Methodist, one Unitarian, one Second Advent, one Universalist, one Episcopalian (Saint Luke's), one Roman Catholic (Saint Rose's), and one African Methodist. Other buildings of interest are the National Bank building on Broadway, the United States Marine Hospital (which occupies an elevated position on a hill overlooking the Mystic River), the military and naval magazine, in the rear of the same hill; and the Soldiers' Home, previously mentioned.
Chelsea is one of the most ancient settlements of the Commonwealth, lands having been taken up here as early as 1630, at which date it was known as '"Rumney Marsh," and formed a part of Boston. The Indian name of the place was Winnissimet. It was incorporated as the town of Chelsea January 10, 1739; in 1841 part of its territory was annexed to Saugus; in 1846 another part was established as North Chelsea (the name since changed to Revere); and in 1857 a city charter was granted and accepted. The usual organizations, civil and social, flourish here.
Chelsea has the honor of having been among the foremost in sending its quota of men to the army and navy during the late war; and its roll of honor, published in 1865, affords evidence of the patriotism and bravery of its citizens. A shaft of granite, surmounted by a statue, constitutes their visible monument. It was dedicated on the 19th of April, 1869.
The State census of 1885 reports as among the residents 126 persons over 80 years, and 13 over 90 years of age. Among eminent people of Chelsea are Rev. Horatio Alger, Jun., born here in 1834; B. P. Shillaber, Francis B. Fay, Isaac Stebbins, and Daniel C. Colesworthy, long time residents of the place.
pp. 232-234 in Nason and Varney's Massachusetts Gazetteer, 1890